Popcorn lobby events: strong business case for increasing worker engagement in office buildings: JLL survey

Popcorn lobby events: strong business case for increasing worker engagement in office buildings: JLL survey
Popcorn lobby events: strong business case for increasing worker engagement in office buildings: JLL survey

Key amenity differentiators for office buildings like childcare and gyms are still rare, while lobby events bring a sense of engagement for workers in a building who are from different firms and who might not otherwise interact, reveals a new survey of customer service and offerings in commercial office buildings by global real estate services firm JLL.

JLL’s first Regional Customer Services and Experiences survey is a regional snapshot of 62 JLL-managed properties across eight countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Half of the properties surveyed were in Australia.  

The survey revealed that whilst some amenities, such as end-of-trip facilities, retail and concierge services are becoming widespread in commercial buildings, other differentiators such as childcare, shared meeting and conference rooms, gyms and lobby lounges were rare – with only 5-10% of buildings surveyed offering them.

“Customer service is increasingly a strong differentiator. In the current competitive market, it is increasingly difficult for a commercial office building to differentiate itself from its neighbour or a similar building down the street,” said Mike George, JLL’s head of the Premium Asset Group, Property Management.

“And the good news for building owners is that improving customer service doesn’t necessarily result in additional expense.

“Mostly it can be done for little or no additional cost to the normal day-to-day operations of the building.  Some measures, like end-of-trip facilities, require a capex commitment but other measures are about changing mindsets, attitudes and behaviours.  It does take an investment in time and effort, but done properly, can reap significant rewards, including attracting new tenants, retaining existing tenants and enhanced brand strength for the property and owner,” he added.

A JLL Paper titled, ‘Putting the customer first’ outlines the business case for offering superior customer service and engagement in commercial buildings.  

Amenity and Convenience

With office employees spending between 40 to 60 hours a week at work, there is increasing demand for more lifestyle conveniences within the workplace. Employers recognise that they can and should cater for these conveniences, like dry cleaning services and on-site physio, if they want to retain the best talent and create a productive workplace.

“End of trip facilities once served as a key differentiator amongst Premium and A-Grade buildings.  However in more mature markets, like Australia, tenants now expect them,” George said.

“The JLL Survey found 68% of buildings surveyed provided extensive bicycle storage, shower and locker and facilities.

“In contrast, only 5% of the buildings surveyed provided childcare and these were concentrated in Australia and India and in buildings and complexes that were over 300,000 square metres in size.” 

Lobby events

The JLL Survey found 68% of buildings surveyed held lobby events, with the majority stating these were quarterly events.

Explaining the importance of lobby events for building an engaged community in an office building, JLL’s Australian head of customer experience, Peter Merrett  says these create a catalyst for people who might not otherwise need to interact.  

“A single office tower can be occupied by dozens of companies, so creating this sense of community is a long-term project, comprising smaller steps to help build engagement.  These may include lobby events like a wine and cheese tasting at the end of the work day, a health and fitness challenge or even a lion dance for Chinese New Year,” he said. 

“Simple things like handing out Easter eggs or as a surprise, installing a popcorn machine in the lobby for the day can build engagement.” 

 

And what’s next?

 

Lifestyle clubs

“Lifestyle clubs are a relatively new service with the ability to attract like-minded people from different companies within a building and enhance a sense of community.  Food and wine clubs are the most popular, but other possibilities include fitness and cycling clubs.

“Clubs need not be expensive. They can usually be delivered via the property website and can be funded by club members,” said Merrett.

JLL’s customer service specialist practice area has gone from being a trial six years ago to becoming an essential part of the property management business.

“What we are delivering is a new level of hospitality and convenience services in office buildings, to assist people with things like organising sporting tickets and making restaurant bookings.  There is no cost involved for providing this personal concierge service on behalf of our guests – it is all part of the service to support business lifestyles,” said George.  

“For instance, at Liberty Place in Sydney, the concierge offers a raft of services to customers: limousine and car services, shoe shine, theatre and concert tickets, flight and holiday information, restaurant reservations and room service-style catering.”

Tags: 
Commercial Property Office Market

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