“Hotelization” Can Improve the On-Site Office Experience: Q&A with Project Management Advisors’ Mark Knott
Back-to-work mandates continue to coincide with employee reluctance. One method to make returning to work more attractive is incorporating hotel-like amenities – “hotelization” – into office space.
Connect CRE recently asked Project Management Advisors’ Vice President, National Hospitality Leader Mark Knott, about the hotelization trend and to provide some examples of how this might work.
Connect CRE: Can you provide some background on office hotelization?
Mark Knott: Bringing more hospitality-inspired experiences and amenities into the workplace has been a slow but steady trend, going back well before the COVID-19 pandemic. It began with amenities like low-budget fitness centers (a few pieces of fitness equipment in the basement). It’s now in full stride, providing more robust offerings. For example, shared rooftop common spaces are a norm in new developments.
Even when repositioning existing assets, common area amenities are necessary to attract and retain tenants. While office culture, mentorship and connectivity are some of the key reasons companies are pushing for a return to office, having office planning and common spaces to support those engagements is now almost a requirement for companies looking to bring their teams back to the office.
Connect CRE: How is hotelization manifesting itself today?
Mark Knott: Hospitality design has been infused into office design for years but has accelerated with the competition for top labor. Today, companies with mandated RTO must justify those policies to compete with those that still allow remote work. Providing a hospitality-inspired experience in the office can make the transition back to the workplace much more palatable and attractive for employees. Examples of hospitality design worked into office planning include flexible working environments, repositioning lunch rooms as café areas, common and casual seating workplaces and bar or game room configurations. All of these are commonplace in office design.
Meanwhile, hospitality properties are also involved. Work-from-home has transitioned to remote work. You can spend a month on the road in hotels and VRBOs, all while working. As a result, the hotel sector has seen occupancy tick up in key locations due to remote work. What used to be a three-day weekend is now a full week of remote work.
The hotel industry has already adjusted multiple design aspects to accommodate these ‘bleisure’ travelers, including modifying the layout of common areas and guest rooms to ensure a comfortable remote work experience.
Connect CRE: How are landlords and employers using hotelization to encourage employees to return?
Mark Knott: At the office level, flexibility is the key. Some offices are offering the ability to choose your space daily or work where you want and how you feel depending on the day. Offices are incorporating more café spaces, where employees can work all day, with easy transitions to lunch, then later to happy hour programming. Other examples include huddle rooms that can act as mini-conference rooms for team workshops, meeting spaces more akin to lounge areas with couches around a coffee table, and wellness rooms that offer a quiet place to re-energize throughout the day.
It’s important to incorporate hospitality amenities at the building level as well, even extending to building services or programs. For example, some properties and companies offer concierge services to support staff and assist in the day-to-day activities that may distract from productivity. Other buildings have introduced art programs as a unique way to keep the space active and fresh.
Whether it’s a grand entrance that creates a distinctive sense of arrival, or rooftop spaces offering a breath of fresh air and a moment to socialize with colleagues, creating “wow-factor” public spaces that are open to all tenants for use (or available to reserve for private events) is required for success on any project these days. Go to a building that has done this right at noon, and you will find people gathering for lunch or grabbing some sunshine on a nice day.
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