REAAS Tribe Crib Notes: Return to the office, Blending hospitality and property, and silent PropTech
Hosted by Kat Hanna, Masterplan Strategist for Lendlease, and Co-Hosted by Steve Watkins of The Fisheries, WeWork’s Patrick Nelson and Florian Fellmer of Mindspace, the ‘REAAS Tribe’ discussed the return to offices, the blending of hospitality and the role of technology.
Kat Hanna started the discussion by asserting that employees need a reason to go into the office. From here, we pick up the key points of the discussion, which took place at 'SPACE [UK Tribes]' at The Bottle Factory in London (a SPACE+ micro-event).
Although isolation has resulted in a desire to be around people again, employees need a “reason to go into the office”.
Leadership is often more reluctant to return to the office than junior staff. This could potentially result in training and development gaps for new starters. It was asserted that it is the “responsibility” of leadership to be around their employees.
The most important element of tenant experience is human interaction. Steve Watkins described The Fisheries as the “analogue of the digital revolution”, which manifests in a feeling of belonging.
CBRE’s Lara Wade noted that in the North, where average commute time is shorter than London, the return to the office has been much quicker.
In the city vs fringe conversation, WeWork’s Patrick Nelson asserted that Core is still the preference, considering their focus on larger enterprise clients, whereas fringe still has merit for those predominantly serving start-ups.
Flex is now arguably a separate sector altogether.
MAPP’s Charlotte Campbell pointed to science and business parks as the forerunners on activation post-Covid.
All agreed that in the shift to greater hospitality and service levels, technology should be “unseen”. It creates a consistency of service and enables you to be a “host”.
Patrick Nelson pointed to HVAC and acoustics as the “quiet heroes” (and potentially villains) of customer satisfaction.
Kat Hanna raised the possibility of new market entrants to the co-working from the traditional landlords. The operators were skeptical about the understanding of hospitality.
Kat Hanna also raised the question of the reverse direction of travel; hospitality companies shifting towards the property sector, especially in light of the “work from anywhere” mantra. It was also noted that cultural institutions with brand resonance, such as Southbank Center and National Theatre, attract unofficial 'work from anywhere' visitors, although not necessarily monetized.
The groups concluded by discussing the impacts of isolation during the pandemic on mental health, particularly in younger people.
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