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Well-being high on priority list for corporate tenants

Car parks and vast corner offices are no longer the most desired amenities for commercial tenants looking for premium office space.

An increasing focus on health, and a persistent flight-to-quality, mean those looking for top-of-the-line workplaces now need to know how buildings, and landlords, accommodate hybrid working models as well as the health and well-being of staff, according to Bayleys office leasing experts.

In a report predicting UK workspace trends in 2024, Bayleys’ global partner Knight Frank found the hybrid working model, where employees split their time between the office and working from home, remains the normal mode for most workplaces post-pandemic. The report predicts that through 2024 more organisations will continue to embrace the hybrid model, requiring workplaces that are flexible, collaborative and technology-driven so they can accommodate a mix of remote and in-office work.

The report also found more office spaces included biophilic, or natural environment-driven design elements such as natural light, plants, outdoor spaces and ergonomic furniture design, to promote employee health and wellness.

Bayleys national director of property management services, Stuart Bent says those same trends are being seen in premium office space in New Zealand, largely among leases of 1,000sqm or more, as employers balance hybrid working with trying to encourage workers back to the office.

Bent says while New Zealand is behind other larger markets, change is being driven in some instances by large corporates with offshore head offices particularly around sustainability, a key part of the wellness movement.

“Many of those large global corporates are mandated to meet certain baselines in terms of their commitment to wellness and sustainability.”

That includes certified efficiency and performance of a building across key utilities such as energy, water and waste, as well as wellness amenities supporting active transportation options (end-of-trip facilities), indoor air comfort, shared collaborative spaces, and community engagement strategies, Bent says.

Bayleys national director office leasing, Matt Lamb says the shift to NABERSNZ energy ratings, an independent building measure backed by the government, is growing quickly and he expects that to extend to other performance measures.

“It will become the standard of what landlords are doing for tenants, because it’s part of how corporates demonstrate their commitment not just to sustainability but the wellness of people in their building,” Lamb says.

“It’s not enough to know how the building is performing. It’s how companies take those metrics and move them forward, asking: How are we doing better? Are we recycling? What else can we be doing that supports the well-being of our people?”

Aside from building performance a lot of wellness initiatives focus on health and facilitating staff fitness, with features like end-of-trip facilities such as bike racks and high-end, well-maintained lockers and showers, Lamb says.

“It’s now standard practice when a tenant inspects to include a tour of the basement level and what facilities are there, or can be added.”

When it comes to new builds, we are now seeing developers work directly with tenants to create bespoke wellness facilities, Lamb says, citing, as an example, Mansons TCLM Ltd’s development of 30 Daldy Street in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter. The eight-level building, due for completion in 2025, will have a dedicated wellness hub on the ground floor. Mansons is collaborating with incoming tenants to tailor their preferences for the space.

“That could be a yoga studio, a meditation space or given over to additional end-of-trip facilities. The tenants will be able to decide what will best suit their needs.”

The wellness focus in corporate workplaces is having a flow-on effect in the retail space as more small-scale wellness businesses, or chains, like pilates studios pop up among premium office blocks.

Bayleys national director retail, Chris Beasleigh says there has been an increase in fitness businesses leasing retail space around premium offices, or even taking spare space inside corporate buildings.

“There’s a lot of demand for businesses like Studio Pilates which has just gone into Wynyard Quarter and there are others spaced around the city. You’d expect about one in every three large office buildings to meet demand without having so many they’re over-supplied; they need a fairly wide demographic.”

This article first appeared in Bayleys’ Total Property portfolio.

Read the full version here.

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