What can workplaces learn from hospitality?

On the face of it, there’s little that workplaces and tourist attractions have in common. If anything, we may think of them as opposites: holiday hotspots like the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls are where we go to take a break from our desks in polished glass buildings.

But for those who prefer a city break to a tranquil getaway, the most exciting destinations could be New York’s One World Trade Center, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa or London’s The Shard. As the skylines of the world’s most visited cities grow taller and taller, few of us can resist a visit to these landmarks – though we may forget that they weren’t actually built to populate Instagram feeds, but to house some of the world’s largest companies and their people.

So, offices and tourist destinations aren’t always opposites after all: in some cases, they happen to overlap, and in other cases building managers will see the unique placement and height of their buildings as an opportunity to increase its value. The panoramic views from the One World Observatory, which sits at the top of the One World Trade Center, attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, each paying up to $35 for a ticket

.In a world where experiences are recorded and documented on social media and the number of likes on a post is the new currency, it’s no wonder that offices have become landmarks. But even for those who work in buildings that don’t boast viewing decks, glass floors or dizzying heights, there are lessons to be learned from this phenomenon: any business can apply the overlap between office space and hospitality to how they approach their workspace, and attract and retain the best talent by doing so.

Adopting a hospitality mindset

Embracing a hospitality mindset means tailoring experiences to individuals and pre-empting their needs, so that they are able to have the most unique and fulfilling experience possible. This mindset can be applied to the workplace, becoming a key tool for businesses looking to beat their competitors in the war for talent, at a time when the best potential new recruits have a multitude of appealing options to choose from.

The biggest players in the tourism trade know how to attract customers with hotel spaces that cater to every need – from spas and gyms to beautiful interiors. Facilities managers can take a leaf out of their book by thinking about how a workspace can mimic the effect these features have, whether it’s by decking out offices with modern designs or considering amenities like in-house cafes.

Workplaces designed for happiness

Some businesses are already leading the way. Google’s New York headquarters, for example, have a ‘150 feet from food’ rule which means that no part of the office is more than 150 feet from a restaurant, coffee lounge or cafeteria. And these features don’t just make Google an attractive place to work for staff – they also help the business succeed as a whole. Happier employees are more productive, and by encouraging workers to spend time in communal spaces, Google encourages them to collaborate more frequently and with better results.

This is not to say that there is one set way for those operating a building to gain inspiration from the tourism trade. The whole point of the hospitality mindset is to tailor the experience to the customer; or, in this instance, to tailor the office to its people. This won’t always mean introducing snack spots. It could mean introducing technology-free zones so employees who spend their days glued to a screen can unplug and relax, or installing noise-free pods in an otherwise collaborative and open-plan office for those who need space to focus. Overall, it means placing the employee experience of a workspace at the heart of its design.

The hospitality industry is known for, and depends on, its focus on customers. For facilities managers or anyone with a say in how an office space is utilised, this human-centric approach can be the edge a business needs, whether it means opening up a well-positioned building to visitors or treating employees like customers. For many businesses, attracting the best talent is as important as important as wooing clients; and if they want to succeed, thinking about how to make a workspace fit the needs and desires of staff can be absolutely vital.

Article by Tom Carroll. Head of EMEA Corporate Research, JLL