The growing realisation of the importance of common areas to the success of multi-let offices is a welcome trend.
For too long, office workers in city centres and business parks across the UK have all too often had to settle for dated decor, sub-standard facilities and a general absence of inspiration in the workplace.
But when we refer to common areas what are we actually talking about?
Essentially, they are the shared areas and facilities of a multi-tenanted building, such as:
- Entrance foyers and reception areas
In some cases, buildings can offer a greater range of facilities for their (lucky) tenants within the common areas, including:
- Cycle Stores
- Breakout areas (indoor and outdoor)
- Cinema rooms
- Table tennis / pool tables
- Kitchen facilities
Occupiers actively looking for their next office suite will generally compare the standard of shared areas within the different buildings they are considering.
It is therefore vital for landlords to make sure that they not only create a great first impression, but that their buildings also pass the test when it comes to a more thorough investigation. Increasingly businesses are consulting with either a selection of staff and in some cases their whole team, before deciding on their new office address.
Any business who is looking to recruit and retain a healthy workforce (and reduce their carbon footprint) will want to ensure their staff can cycle to work. That means that their office needs to provide secure bike storage but also facilities for showering/changing and possibly storage lockers. Such facilities can also be useful to those exercising in their lunch hour and this has in some cases led to landlords providing gym facilities inside or outside their building. Basement areas which may have previously been left unused can offer a number opportunities to create useful amenities which can make a building stand out from the competition.
Where possible, shared spaces should be designed around the type of tenants that a building is trying to attract. But even if a building does not need to attract new tenants, it is important to maintain high standards in order to keep existing tenants who may have a break option or lease expiry approaching.
So, if you are looking to invest in the common areas of your building to attract and retain tenants, here are our top five tips for a successful project:
- Make creative use of your space – for example lobbies, basements and outdoor areas can be utilised to create shared facilities such as informal meeting areas or breakout space.
- Focus on the type of occupiers are you looking to attract – provide facilities that your tenants will actually want to use. Tech & media companies may be looking for something different to traditional corporate occupiers – so do your research first.
- Select the best materials and features for each area within the building e.g. hard wearing flooring in high footfall entrance foyers, acoustic products for sound absorption, biophilia to bring nature into the workplace.
- Lighting and furniture can have a big impact – be willing to choose bold colours and unusual materials. Consider providing co-working spaces and adopting the growing trend for domestication of the workplace.
- First impressions count – an eye-catching and multi-functional reception area can make a great impact on staff and visitors (especially if there’s the option to get a good cup of coffee!)
We have successfully completed a number of office fit-out and refurbishment projects in recent months including the new reception area at the award-winning 71 Grey Street and the common areas within Generator Studios.
These projects perfectly illustrate what can be done with some foresight, imagination and a willingness to go the extra mile.