Property solutions are increasingly being sought out to boost productivity, provide environmental benefits and add to employee well-being. 

The demand for commercial office spaces is the strongest since 2009, with enquiries up 33% in the first quarter of 2017 alone . At the same time, the requirements for commercial office space are more complex, with environmental credentials, advanced facilities and well-being support playing a larger role in lease decisions. 

Sustainability 

According to a 2017 study conducted by academics from the University of London, research across Australia, the UK, US and the Netherlands indicated that more sustainable commercial spaces were also valued higher by buyers, investors and occupiersv. The study also suggested that investors and occupiers are willing to pay for better sustainability and green features. 

Sustainable, green features don't just help the environment. Research and interviews conducted with leasers in South Australia indicate that sustainable offices can help reduce costs and increase employee retention . PricewaterhouseCoopers note that sustainable building and offices help communicate a stronger corporate image, foster industry leadership, and, similar to the South Australian findings, can improve staff retention and help recruitment.

Green buildings - designed, constructed and operated to achieve sustainability, water and energy efficiency and indoor environment quality goals - are desirable. 
The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) will be 20 years old next year. It provides an indication of the environmental impact of buildings and takes into account energy and water consumption, as well as waste generation and indoor environment quality.

A building rating like NABERS is not just set and forget. A Green Lease Schedule, a formal commitment between tenants and building owners, ensures the ongoing operational building energy performance. According to a case-study conducted by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the implementation of a successful Green Lease Schedule reduced costs for building operations up to $10 per square metre.

Looking after employees

While wages have been struggling to increase significantly over the last two decades , the same cannot be said of the workplace environment. Corporations looking for improved productivity have turned to building features to help. 

A Colliers report on Global Workplace Trends suggests that improving the employee experience can help employees engage better , and while 85% of businesses surveyed valued wellness of their employees, many find it difficult to implement related strategies.

Research findings have consistently validated the positive benefits of factors like access to daylight, views of nature, individual temperature control and other design measures affecting the productivity of employeesv, . Companies like Westpac have also invested in this idea, albeit differently, by creating a concierge service that can take care of dry-cleaning, restaurant reservations and more - indicating how important these additional services are to attract and retain top talent within industries .
Gyms as well as showers, lockers, and change rooms encourage employee health and fitness. Concerns about difficult commutes can be addressed through the provision of secure bike parking spaces. Staff lockers and storage facilities are also an essential component for organisations looking to have an office-wide hot desk culture.

The tin of instant coffee - once the de facto office standard - has long since moved over for the espresso machine. Staff rooms have morphed into quasi-cafes, sometimes with their own barista. They provide less formal areas for meetings that can help encourage creativity. 

Reaching beyond the square metre

The Federal Government's Energy Efficiency in Government Operations guidelines require any government office more than 2000 square metres in size to correspond to a NABERS Energy Rating of 4.5 stars of higher . It's a high standard: a 5-star NABERS score indicates excellent performance, while a 6-star rating implies market leading performance and is the highest standard of comparison.

Commercial clients too are seeking advanced features in buildings for reasons of corporate social responsibility, employee productivity, staff retention and financial benefits.

  • When seeking out leads its worth considering how these factors can be addressed in your marketing and communication. Some factors to consider include:
  • Allowing potential clients to filter the commercial listings on your Web site by NABERS rating, or to pinpoint features including lockers, bike storage, showers, change rooms, proximity to childcare services and more.
  • Ensuring descriptions that are published on commercial listing sites adequately address these features.
  • Adding visual cues in your marketing - from photos to icons - for these features. Do your property videos, for example, devote adequate time to bike commuting with drone footage or maps of bike lane approaches as well as storage?
  • Creating a thought leadership content series about issues like employee productivity, commuting, well-being and more to capture leads. 
     

© Copyright 2018. RP Data Pty Ltd trading as CoreLogic Asia Pacific (CoreLogic) and its licensors. All rights reserved. The data, information and commentary, provided in this publication (together, Information) is of a general nature and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the relevant contributors and should not be construed as specific advice or relied upon in lieu of appropriate professional advice. While CoreLogic uses commercially reasonable efforts to ensure the Information is current, CoreLogic does not warrant the accuracy, currency or completeness of the Information and to the full extent permitted by law excludes all loss or damage howsoever arising (including through negligence) in connection with the Information.


References

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  • next?", Journal of Corporate Real Estate, Vol. 19 Issue: 1, pp.5-16, https://doi.org/10.1108/, viewed on August 13, 2017.
  • Green Lease Schedule Case Study, 2011, "Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) National Office, 50 Marcus Clark Street, Canberra", Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/15e48d7e-c7b5-4ca9-b3d8-f1bd3daf5a4d/files/greenleaseschedulecasestudy.pdf
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  • Colliers International, 2017, "5 Shifts Companies Must Make in the Next 5 Years", Spotlight Report Global Workplace Trends, July 2017, viewed on August 16, 2017.
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  • Cummins, C. 2016, "Westpac raises the bar at new Barangaroo digs", Sydney Morning Herald, January 29, 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/business/property/westpac-raises-the-bar-at-new-barangaroo-digs-20160118-gm8g4d.html, viewed on August 16, 2017.
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