Hybrid working is the “new normal”

Published on NZ Herald online, 23 September.

More hybrid workspaces are being developed in Auckland following the $150m purchase of three buildings in Albert St in the city’s midtown precinct.

Inspired by the success of the rejuvenated 1 Albert Street, where Auckland’s first private business members club is located, Auckland Real Estate Ltd (ARE) is to sustainably upcycle the buildings into new, modern hybrid workspaces.Collectively known as Formery, the sites at 87 Albert St, 60 Federal St and 16 Kingston St will expand the Alberts business club to culture-led businesses of all sizes that operate hybrid and flexi working models, ARE CEO Andrew Saunders says. Formery will occupy a total floor space of 14,500sqm over 10 floors at Formery East and 16 floors at Formery West. Alberts private suites, Alberts bespoke suites and traditional office spaces will be available.

Saunders says there is a clear demand for purpose-designed hybrid working workspaces of all sizes indicating that hybrid working is the new normal rather than a temporary trend. He says this “work club” trend is thriving around the world as business travel makes a big comeback, hybrid work-from office and home models become the new normal, and businesses downsize from large offices.

The Alberts model has been very successful in Auckland, with 1 Albert fully tenanted with boutique service-led consultancy companies such as Hustle & Bustle, Brand Counsel, Tattico, Bolton Equities, Streamline. ARE is deeply committed to providing purpose-designed true hybrid-working spaces and has investigated the business model and impacts on culture internationally.

Recent research by international commercial design company Steelcase revealed that 30 per cent of employers are concerned about preserving their workplace cultures in a hybrid working world and 64 per cent of workers want hybrid collaboration spaces. “Culture and community is integral to hybrid working,” says Saunders. “Though hybrid working saves businesses money, we must consider the significance of culture and community as well as the bottom line. “Company culture and ultimately business performance is impacted by cultural erosion caused by staff who choose to work from home on select days. True hybrid working solutions need to resolve this.” Alberts provides a combination of spaces designed to foster community – club lounges with food and beverage options, hosted events to promote networking and encourage employees as well as neighbouring tenants to learn and socialise together, on-site.

Saunders says the true-hybrid workplace and office must offer variety, aspirational design and compelling reasons to choose the office over working from home – such as a team neighbourhood with a sense of collaboration; comfortable, familiar and inspirational places to work and meet (both formally and informally) and isolated areas for quiet focus.

Tiffani Graydon, CEO Yealands, moved their team to Alberts in 2021: “I wanted to move to a place that facilitates creative thinking and our previous space was very quiet, void of energy. Without a community surrounding you there is no-one else feeding into your own cultural vibe.” In functional terms, hybrid-working spaces need to offer significantly different spaces and experiences to pre-pandemic ‘open plan’ offices.

Saunders says the top five things people want in 2022, in order of importance are: hybrid collaboration spaces; single-person enclaves for hybrid meetings/video; privacy; workspaces with full or partial enclosure and reservable workspaces – closely followed by informal spaces to connect with colleagues and sustainable design. Designed by CTRL Space with furnishings by Coco Republic, the Formery office sizes are available to suit, with the option for tenants to collaborate with ARE to create their future space. Formery residents will also enjoy all of the benefits of Alberts Club including concierge, networking events, shared spaces, technology services, on-site quality food and beverage options, brand partnership perks and benefits.

Read the original article here.


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