Workplace strategy has become a major new area of professional services in the last decade as companies from established multinationals to high tech startups put a premium on designing offices and facilities that support businesses adapting new technologies and collaborative workflows, while making the most of increasingly precious commercial space.
In China, where the economy continues to transform from manufacturing towards an increasingly high tech service sector, international property consultancy JLL is putting some of the most cutting edge aspects of workplace strategy to the test in its new, 4,700 square metre Shanghai office.
The office in HKRI Taikoo Hui along Shanghai’s West Nanjing Road, incorporates concepts from co-working’s ability to suit the needs of high tech service providers to create a collaborative, and more productive workplace for JLL’s over 400 staff in the city, while also giving the Fortune 500 advisory firm a showroom to demonstrate new workplace concepts to its clients.
A Flexible Workplace for Collaborative Teams
Entering the two-floor office, visitors are welcomed into a living room, with the typical enclosed reception area replaced by a spacious lounge, and an open table substituted for the traditional receptionist’s barricade.
“JLL has been in Shanghai for more than twenty years, and during that time, work culture has changed from the human wave approach to solving business problems to adopt the tech industry’s approach of deploying smaller, more collaborative teams,” explains JLL’s Managing Director of East China Eddie Ng. The two-decade industry veteran sees the office’s flexible plan, ergonomic desks and chairs, and array of break out spaces and lounge-like work areas as more of an adaptation to changing work styles than a design statement.
“As companies have streamlined business operations and adopted new technologies, teams can be more flexible and agile. To serve our clients effectively, we needed to provide more spaces for informal discussions, and end the ongoing battle for meeting rooms,” Ng added.
The company has done away with fixed seating assignments, with members of the company’s numerous business lines seating themselves in flexible areas around the open plan space, and with team members moving their belongings into lockers when they leave the office.
The arrangement ends the practice of dedicating work spaces to brokers and account representatives, who may be out of the office much of the time, while freeing up more space for people to work together away from the usual fixed benches and desks.
Exploring the Future of Work
The new Shanghai office, which doubles as the company’s Eastern China headquarters, is an outgrowth of JLL’s Future of Work research, which investigates how human experience, innovation, technology, financial sensitivity and the drive for operational excellence are changing the way that companies use real estate.
The property services provider is putting the results of its Future of Work study into practice, not only in the newly-opened Shanghai facility, but also in new offices opening across the region this year, like Guangzhou, Chongqing, Hangzhou and Bangalore.”
Meeting World Standards for Sustainability and Wellness
In addition to enabling team members to work together more effectively, JLL’s new office also seeks to ensure that its workers are happy and healthy at their jobs, by incorporating wellness into the design. Studies in the US have shown that company wellness programs can reduce sick leave by 28 percent and boost productivity by eight percent on average.
The space designed by JLL’s in-house workplace strategy team and built by their project management department includes a gym with aerobic fitness machines, weight lifting equipment, yoga facilities and regular exercise classes. The space was designed to meet the WELL Platinum standard, which evaluates facilities on over 100 factors involving air, water, light, comfort and other elements to ensure that team members are provided with a healthy work environment even on Shanghai’s smoggiest days.
“WELL is about putting people first,” explains Xuchao Wu, Associate Director of Energy and Sustainability Services at JLL China. “It’s about creating and monitoring health, happiness, mindfulness and productivity, in our buildings and communities.”
The office also follows the standards of version four of the LEED Platinum standard for sustainability, with the goal of being one of the first offices in Asia Pacific to obtain both platinum certifications in both the LEED and the WELL standards.
“It’s all about creating a workplace where our people can be agile both mentally and physically, to ensure that we continue to have the most productive team in the industry,” Ng commented. With a team of 400 professionals in one of the world’s fastest growing office markets, Ng is banking on this office as not only a showcase of company values, but as a competitive edge in China’s booming real estate industry.
JLL Shanghai in Pictures
This sponsored feature is provided by JLL China