"Give me good reasons to come back to the office!"
Reduction or redevelopment of occupied areas, fragmentation of workplaces, relocation to more central districts, the post-Covid period is reshuffling the cards of professional real estate. At a time when employees are reluctant to return to the office, companies must also consider the added value of being on site. Because a nice office, well laid out and well located, cannot be the only remedy for the “great resignation”.
Tribune by Jean-François Couëc, President of the Kardham Group published in Entreprendre.
Strong comeback of central locations
If the health crisis has led to a redefinition of real estate strategies, it also calls for new opportunities on the HR side. With the acceleration of hybrid work and the reduction of surfaces, it can be assumed that companies will gradually abandon the urban periphery in favor of more central areas. This relocation can also constitute a real lever of attractiveness, in particular for young talents: at constant real estate costs, being in the heart of the city offers certain amenities in the eyes of employees who want to work in a secure, lively environment where they will be able to enjoy neighborhood life during their meridian break.
Another strong requirement of this post-Covid period: easy access to means of transport. With the break-up of workplaces, employees have taken off. So, when you have to come back on site, everything must be smooth and fast. This new requirement will certainly accentuate a renewed interest in well-served business districts as well as those around stations. On the other hand, the relocation of offices to the city center raises the question of the future and rental yield of assets located on the outskirts.
The workspace, a remedy for the great resignation?
Contrary to the belief of the market according to which the office, in its interior dimension, would be used to attract talent, it is therefore its location which now seems to rise to the first place of the criteria for choosing candidates. Thus, an office offering a concierge service but which would be poorly placed would be of little interest. However, is a central, accessible, connected, service-oriented workplace that offers an optimal user journey sufficient to motivate employees to return to the office? Certainly not. From now on, the workplace must offer them a human experience that is attractive enough to encourage them to leave their homes. An unprecedented situation in the history of work, because fifty years ago no one would have imagined saying to their employer "Give me a good reason to go back to the office"! “The great resignation” of the current period therefore also questions management methods and employee experience: since you can perform your tasks remotely, what added value can you offer the employee when he is on site? What will happen humanly in his workplace? How to run collective meetings and one-to-ones imposed on employees differently?
The meaning, the psychological dimension and the relational dynamics in the workplace will become essential. The office will only regain its appeal if it offers real moments and spaces of conviviality. It may not seem like much, but in the industrial period, the bistro outside the factory was a place of reference for all workers. The office must allow you to forge your own identity, to weave human links, stories and common memories that will build individual and collective memory. Employees, especially young people, will only enjoy returning to a place where they exist and where their manager shows them that they exist.
The place and the link
Beyond the material aspect, it is therefore the immaterial dimension of the office that must be reconsidered. More than a workspace, organizations must recreate a workplace that will restore value and meaning to the presence on site. The current period should encourage them to review the management of space, in other words to rethink all the times when the employee will be physically present in the company. Recreating this dynamic necessarily involves initiating a process of change management in terms of corporate culture, management and space management. A fundamental approach "of place and connection", combining disciplines such as psycho-sociology or ethnology, which explores all the springs of human relations and team identity. In the end, the office must become a real place of resources, to work well certainly, but which also offers a rich social experience conducive to weaving the links of a collective history.