We had coffee in the Club with Gordon Munro of Cushman & Wakefield, to get the scoop on his experience at Alberts.
Given your career and your inside knowledge in real estate, what enticed you to consider Alberts as your new workspace?
I’ve worked in corporate real estate in various guises for 25 years, and I have always had an active involvement with the building (1 Albert Street). I’ve always loved to see the regeneration of assets – this is an asset that investors have struggled to make work, and it was great to see someone take that on and regenerate it into something very cool. It’s an iconic building being turned into what it should be.
How does Alberts compare to previous workspaces?
We have been at places that market what they consider a similar offering to Alberts. These shared spaces are good at a certain level of business development and they did suit our needs for a couple of years. Alberts not only provides us with our own space but it’s a great example of a solution that really enables hybrid working providing other areas in the building to work and meet clients on a formal and social level while not locking us into large office space. The commercial real estate side of Cushman is growing in NZ and the Alberts model really helps enable that growth. The proactive nature of the staff at Alberts along with the breakout spaces are very impressive and professional, it simply takes it to the next level.
In terms of members lounges, it is something the market has grappled with to really make work, but Alberts provides greater quality and that proactive front of house service that provides something we have not really seen before. The level of quality and professionalism here makes an impression when you walk in. The concierge makes you feel like you’re walking into a downtown office tower in a major metropolitan city, it’s very high calibre.
As a team we feel like we’ve grown up and we wanted to take it to a new level, and that’s why we chose Alberts, and I think that with New Zealand’s business community/office workers are growing up too – we don’t have to be in the office 5 days a week. A good employee is a valuable commodity – you have to be an employer of choice and not dictatorial. If you’re an SME Alberts is a great choice.
What do you think of the overall feel of the Alberts spaces?
There’s just so much light and air in all areas. It’s taken companies an awfully long time to work out that people aren’t much different from plants – a bit of light and nutrition and they do quite well! The more actual daylight people encounter the better, the happier people are the more productive they are.
How have your clients reacted to the space?
The people I’ve brought through just love it. Of course, what most prospective tenants are concerned about is that blend of cost savings and functionality, like the shared kitchen on the floor, but what Alberts does right is proactively keeping these spaces serviced and maintained to a very high standard. Even down to the fresh fruit being always fresh! It’s the attention to detail, that really makes the difference.
What do you think about the Alberts model, i.e. our outlook on the workplace?
People need flexibility, light and air and not sitting in the same spot every minute of the day. However, we all still need an office and security. Not being tied into a one-person one-desk model allows you to grow like businesses are growing now.
The first thing new employees used to ask was ‘where is my desk?’, now they ask ‘how many days do I have to come into the office?’ About fifty per cent of our staff are in-house on any given day, and that changes as projects change. The social experiment of the pandemic allowed many sectors of business to realise that we can work from home two to three days a week easily and productivity does not change at all. Clients that we have worked with at Alberts are embracing the hybrid model allowing them to use fewer permanent desks, and from what we’re seeing as a global trend most major, global businesses are reducing their office footprint by around thirty per cent and providing more flexibility of how people work while providing more amenity in the workplace. So based on what we’re seeing, Alberts has hit the nail on the head of offering a really good fit business needs for ourselves and our clients.
What do you think of the communal spaces?
Alberts make the breakout space really work – not just token spaces that people struggle to really engage with. They have a warm comfortable but professional feel to them. Sometimes the communal spaces can just feel like another bolt-on corporate café or ticking a box, the spaces at Alberts are certainly much more.
Our new bar and restaurant Palmer is set to open very soon. How do you see this space benefiting your business?
There is a need for Palmer, this area is crying out for it. A number of nearby restaurants have dipped in quality since opening and have become pretty underwhelming. When you’re having a business lunch you need reliable service, good quality food that isn’t too intimidating and ideally some nice outdoor space for summer. Plus a good turnaround time! There is typically just one or two places I have returned to again and again over the years because I trust it, so we definitely need something new.
What would you say to any prospective tenant considering an Alberts workspace?
Alberts provides the doing, not tokenism. The Alberts model lifts it above that, and this includes Lawn Cafe. It’s an easy sell to get people to look at Alberts. Businesses are downsizing and using those savings to invest in quality, there is a real positive change in the market, and this shift aligns so well with the Alberts model and way of thinking.
Gordon Munro is National Director Tenant Advisory Group at Cushman & Wakefield.