The New Role of ‘the Office’ in Competing for Top Talent

Christophe Garnier headshot

Here are the two big things I think your office strategy needs in order to stay competitive — and how to get them.

In a recent webinar hosted by FORCE Family Office on the future of work, I was joined by CEO Evan Sohn and WorkingNation CEO Art Bilger for a conversation about, in part, the role the office now plays in attracting talent, post-pandemic. We talked about these questions facing corporate leaders today: How does this space we call the office fit into the landscape of remote and hybrid work? And what role does it play in attracting talent today, when the idea of spending 40 hours a week at the same desk in an office downtown feels suddenly so outmoded?

It may sound cliché, but I believe people really lean into the idea of being a part of something bigger than themselves. The office today has to play a bigger role than just four walls where people show up because that’s where work happens, roll through their task list, commute home to get ready to unquestioningly commute back again the next day. Today’s office needs to be a valuable, irreplaceable experience: One that elevates your people and motivates them to do their best work. One that makes a case for itself.

1. Amenities that make it fun and healthy to be at “the office”

We talk a lot here about how talent expectations for office amenities and services have shifted. Your employees’ reasons for coming into the office center around flexibility and experiences that contribute to their wellbeing, productivity and collaboration.

With that in mind, sure: Hospitality-led services and amenities can elevate the office and create a bespoke experience for the employee. I’m talking about in-house cafés where your team can meet clients, a relaxation room for meditation, bike storage, a gym with shower facilities, and of course, serviced meeting and event spaces. But of course, this is a lot to bite off when you’re not even sure your teams will ever come back to the office full time. Are companies going to dive in and make this investment when so many members of their workforce, including leadership, are unsure about that whole “40 hours a week at the same desk” idea?  A full office build-out like this is, at most workplaces, going to be tough to make a case for.

That’s why we’re seeing so many companies supplement their workspace portfolios with existing shared workspace: Great spaces conveniently located near your employees that already have these amenities up and running.

2. Environmental commitments that help a workplace stand out

Pulling existing flexible workspace into your office plan, and giving employees access to coworking spaces like the thousands we offer on the Upflex network, checks another very important box when it comes to competing for the best talent: sustainability.

One recent study found that more than a third — 34% — of UK office workers said they would refuse a job offer if the company’s environmental, sustainability or climate control values weren’t aligned with theirs. Another study showed that 59% of workers in the 18-to-22 range would stay longer at a company that was visibly committed to environmental and sustainability goals. In the U.S., 41% of workers said they’d refuse a job offer and in France, the research shows, more than half of office workers feel this way.

Today’s employees want to make deliberate, informed decisions about how and where they work. They are going to be more likely to choose workspace that has a mission to be carbon neutral and to do its part to reduce environmental impact. Traditional office buildings are burning energy while sitting half empty, blowing out your company’s environmental impact. Downsizing that space, and bringing in, in its place, existing, shared, third-party workspaces that have energy efficiency top of mind, can move the dial — especially when these third-party spaces are located near where your employees live, helping them cut commutes and the carbon that comes with it.

Adding flexible workspace to your office strategy gives you the ability to offer talent more

We’re working with companies of all sizes right now — from startups to the Fortune 100 — to help heads of real estate and workplace experience figure out how to compete for talent in this landscape, where office space is expensive and underutilized, flexibility is king, and skilled job candidates are in high demand.

Our global network allows them to add thousands of convenient, connected, modern, beautifully designed, amenity-rich workspaces — complete with sustainability pledges — to their workspace strategies. They’re giving their teams access to our global network of bookable desks, meeting rooms and private offices, on flexible terms, so employees can browse and book the spaces that resonate with them. Meanwhile, managers can strategize for collaboration and teamwork at spaces their teams are excited to work from. In this way, coworking spaces and bookable flex offices are letting companies have it all — and offer it all to prospective new hires. This is how I see companies leveraging “the office” to compete for talent.