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Featured in The Stoddart Review supplement: Turning workplaces into destinations

11 December 2016

Lendlease managing director, property Europe, Jonathan Emery comments on why he believes developing workplaces as destinations is key to driving both employee and business productivity. 'No place like work: Turning workplaces into destinations', published in The Stoddart Review Sunday Times supplement highlights Lendlease's work around the globe and identifies how this experience is being brought to the UK for the first time at International Quarter London. 

The idea of workplace has changed dramatically in recent years. Technology means we can now work from almost anywhere. We can send emails on the train, we can take part in conference calls in airport lounges and the concept of working from home is now commonplace. The office, in short, is no longer the sole place we work.

This, says, Jonathan Emery, managing director, property Europe, Lendlease, “has changed how we now determine what makes a great workplace”. 

Lendlease is a global leader in developing workplace destinations and has made a name for itself through its large, long-term, complex projects, including its recent Barangaroo development in Sydney and the £2.4 billion International Quarter London project in Stratford being delivered in partnership with LCR. 

A good workplace, Emery believes, should be one that puts people first, reflects the culture of an organisation and delivers business outputs in the most efficient way. 

Of course, organisations measure workplace effectiveness in many ways. The elements of productivity are not straightforward and can be informed by a variety of different factors. “As a provider of workplace in the built environment, the cost aspect of productivity is a key consideration for most organisations, but it’s not the sole ingredient or indeed the most important.” Emery says, “It’s not just about the physical cost of occupying a building but, critically, the output of the workforce occupying it.” 

Emery believes we need to look at the workplace as a motivator. “Done right, the workplace can provide employees with a positive sense of purpose. It can contribute to enhanced health and wellbeing, create a sense of community and improve pride in a place of work. All of which significantly enhance productivity and contribute to the attraction and retention of talent.” 

It is in creating this type of workplace environment that Lendlease has built its experience and as a result become a global leader in the space. “Place making is a complex process,” Emery explains, “Place making for the workforce is undoubtedly a collaborative effort between occupiers, interior designers, architects, engineers, furniture designers and tech, however the benefits of a conductor – experts in workplace design who really understand the full suite of evidence based ingredients and are informed in the latest thinking and tested ways of working – is essential to creating truly great workplace destinations.”  

Moreover, the workplace is expanding outside of its traditional mould. “It is no longer simply the office floor which determines a successful workplace; the surrounding environment such as the streets and public realm are increasingly important as we become more mobile,” Emery says. 

Lendlease’s workplaces tend to be focused within large urban regeneration masterplans. So the development teams are able to expand their remit to the curation of not only the office floorspace but also the mixed-use elements that surround it. Emery says, “We carefully consider how we organise the public realm, the retail experience, to ensure as a whole it contributes to a holistic workplace experience. We have seen that providing these aspects not only encourages people to spend time at work, but also improves their productivity while they are there.”

Both LCR’s experience at King’s Cross and Lendlease’s Barangaroo development in Sydney stand as testaments to this approach. Barangaroo has been designed to put people first and this is crucial, Emery believes. “Just entering the precinct, walking through the streets, before you even get to the offices themselves, you get a sense that this is a vibrant place to work. And that immediately starts to energise you and inspire that sense of purpose.”  

“The workplaces themselves offer employees personal comfort combined with transparency and connectivity to immediate colleagues and wider business groups. Through the organisation of space and design cues, there is an open invitation and encouragement to circulate and collaborate.” 

Driven by delivering quantifiable outcomes for its clients, Lendlease focuses heavily on research and uses international reporting methods, such as the Leesman Index, to review the positive impacts its workplaces have on organisations. 

“In Australia, the resulting staff engagement has been excellent,” Emery says, highlighting Lendlease’s work at the Brisbane Showgrounds as a key example. “Our vision for the redevelopment of the showgrounds was to reignite the local iconic landmark for modern day life and create a vibrant new working community at its heart.” 

Emery explained, “What we found, after our own Lendlease team moved in to the first building, was an exceptional increase in a number of the Leesman Index’s key indicators, with 83.4% saying that their workplace was a place they were proud to bring visitors and 74.5% saying that the new office contributed to a sense of community at work. We were also impressed to see a 31.6% increase in people saying the new space positively impacted workplace culture.” 

International Quarter London, the joint venture between Lendlease and LCR in Stratford, presents an exciting opportunity as it’s the first time the company has brought its workplace expertise to the UK.  

“International Quarter London really signifies the importance of creating a workplace as a destination,” says Emery, “It is offering us as regeneration partners the opportunity to create an entirely new and future-proofed business district, one where we are able to bring our learnings from across the globe and tailor to the UK market.” 

At International Quarter London, employees’ choice of workspace will not be limited to a desk, office floor or building. “We are investing in a ground plane that is designed for our tenants. Completely wifi-enabled, the public space will provide the amenities for working outdoors, and will be combined with a retail offering that encourages collaboration between both employees and businesses alike.” Staff from Transport for London and the Financial Conduct Authority will be the first to experience this fresh design approach, making the move to Stratford in 2017 and 2018 respectively. 

Emery believes International Quarter London will create a shift in the way workplace is perceived, used and evaluated. “The workplace is no longer just a building. They are, and should be, destinations.”

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