Luring workers back to office post-pandemic is forcing employers and landlords to employ more flexible working strategies and incorporate new technologies into the workplace, according to property experts who joined an MTD TV panel on Tuesday.
“I think within offices, there’s a lot more demand for the ability to work in a more informal and flexible environment… I believe that flex is here to stay and is probably going to keep rising at a good pace over the next few years,” Anshul Jain, head of Asia Pacific tenant rep and managing director for India & Southeast Asia at Cushman & Wakefield, said on the final show of Mingtiandi’s Office Strategies Forum.
Multinationals and local companies in Asia are adopting hybrid work setups, he said, with that shift compelling landlords to rethink their properties to better serve the expectations of companies seeking to incorporate more flexibility post-pandemic.
Speaking at the same session, which was sponsored by Yardi, Eric Schaffer, APAC chief executive at essensys said landlords are now investing in upgrades of common spaces, enabling hot desking and incorporating more tech-enabled features into their properties as a way to get an edge over competitors and ensure the value of their properties for the long term.
“Folks will pay more for a flexible workspace. These investments will definitely pay off just on the outset, but also in the terms of future proofing what you’re gonna do next (with the space),” Schaffer said.
To maintain a competitive advantage in the market, he noted how asset owners and landlords are working to offer flex spaces either through third-party service providers or under their own brands. The boss of essensys, a software and tech provider for commercial real estate, also highlighted the need to integrate technology in managing co-working spaces effectively.
“What’s considered a flex office, we’d all agree that demand has certainly risen above supply in many of the markets,” he added.
While tech-enabled features in flex spaces boost efficiency, building a community-like environment in the workplace also increases productivity and boosts morale, according to Claude Touikan, a co-founder of Hong Kong-based architecture and design studio, Lead8.
“For the new design of offices, I think we’re looking at a workplace community concept – very interesting indeed,” Touikan said. “Usually when you come into the office you want to feel like you have a community feel by doing that, you can actually increase your productivity inside the office, because it feels good to be there and you also feel very comfortable.”
C&W’s Jain said the quality of the building, prestige of the address, design of office space and sustainability features of the property can help companies attract talent to come back to the office.
Bringing Teams Back
At Cushman & Wakefield’s new office in CapitaLand’s CapitaSpring in Singapore’s Raffles Place, Jain said the company had seen work attendance improve dramatically after the company incorporated a more casual style and flexible design to the workplace, which opened earlier this year.
Touikan shared similar experiences from Lead8, where his staff prefers to work on-site and take advantage of superior connectivity and the opportunity to work together more easily . He also noted how the cramped homes common in Asia motivate workers to come back to the office.
“People are happy to come back if it’s a nice environment to offer. Now, one thing is for certain, nobody is willing to come back five days a week and that is something that we must all incorporate in ourselves that hybrid is here to stay,” Jain added.
A McKinsey survey showed that 70 percent of workers globally want their employers to offer flexible or remote-working options post pandemic, while two-thirds still want to have some in-person time with their colleagues.
Flexible workspace can also allow companies to be present in multiple locations with the help of technology, according to Mimi Lee, deputy city head at The Executive Centre, a Hong Kong-based provider of upscale flexible office space.
“People now would like to have more locations for their staff to choose from. If you’re in a traditional office you can only stay in one location, but with TEC in Hong Kong, you can go to all our locations. It also attracts talent,” she said.
The Future of the Office panel marked the 31st and final show of MTD TV this year. Mingtiandi’s online forums will be back with its APAC Residential Forum in March of next year.
To view the events scheduled for 2023, click here.