By John Drover, CEO, Argyll
According to new research by independent consultancy Barnett Waddingham, 85% of UK businesses expressed that they have been negatively affected by the pandemic-induced ‘Great Resignation’ and are prioritising staff retention this year. After a tumultuous two years, employee demands have shifted, with the top desires now including hybrid working capabilities, flexibility around working times and employee benefits that go further than salary uplifts.
However, for the financial services community who make up our core client base face-to-face meetings are critical to the success of their businesses, and so employee demands differ slightly. Employees must have the best of both the office and home: creating an informal, welcoming office space with high-end surroundings and a boutique residential feel. Set-desk, private offices with the option of breakout spaces are in demand for the financial sector. These spaces allow team members to meet and collaborate, but also host clients in discrete, high-end surroundings which emulate the business’ brand and continue to incentivise employees into the building.
More than bricks and mortar
For the financial services community, leaders are now looking for an office that embodies the residential feel that employees crave after leaving full-time home working behind. A premium office that fosters a sense of productivity, calm and quality can be key to incentivising existing talent to return to the office post-lockdown. More than that though, the office is key to recruitment – it can set a vital first impression.
For example, many financial services firms are currently looking for young ambitious talent for whom a business’ location plays a big role in a job selection. Offices at key hubs in London such as Bank or Mayfair ensure that firms have a range of bars, shops and eateries on the office’s doorstep and, in turn, can offer their younger recruits an active social life and quick access to the best of London.
A networking hub
Firms should not underestimate the brand credentials a premium office can offer them for both new recruits and clients. In fact, in an industry built on carefully crafted reputations, for financial services companies, bricks and mortar represent their brand more effectively than their company website and provide a vital networking base.
For instance, take our client Stewart Bevan, who runs management consultancy Kaihen from our 1 King Street building in the City. He says: “my office offers me a convenient drop-in drop-out networking hub with both the option of a communal space for an informal chat, as well as a private office for more discrete conversations.”
The pandemic took its toll on businesses’ sense of identity, but this can be rebuilt. The office can allow firms to grow relationships, regroup teams, and construct brands, achieving objectives in line with pandemic recovery strategies. For financiers looking to make the most of in-person collaboration, team building and networking, a central office in impressive surroundings is key.
So, what does the future office actually look like? After two years of enforced remote working, financial firms are on the lookout for an office which matches the comforts their employees have come to expect. The offices of the future must be premium – in design, location, comfort, and tech. For example, at Argyll, we are investing £27 million in an extensive refurbishment programme, working with Grand Designs presenter Damion Burrows to enhance and upgrade eight prime central London buildings. With premium interior design and furnishings; tech to support hybrid working; and even a signature scent designed by perfumer Azzi Glasser, the aim is to create welcoming, luxurious surroundings.
Working in financial services is not a low-pressure affair: an office can, and should, be an effective tool, helping firms focus on building their business by creating an environment which caters to their every requirement. Ultimately, financial services professionals now look for a workplace that provides high-quality comforts at their disposal, as well as the IT support and technology to ensure a seamless transition from their home office to city office. The future of work is about high-quality spaces that facilitate productivity and networking in a hybrid age.
From talking to our own clients, it is clear that after two years of tech malfunctions, high-quality tech is crucial to the future of the office. Video call booths with expert lighting and sound proofing that allows for discreet conversations are now at the top of the priority list. First-class, hotel-standard customer service is also crucial for financial services companies looking to navigate hybrid working seamlessly.
With a recent report citing that 60% of employees are looking for a new job, there is no time like the present for employers to move fast to meet new demands. A contract which offers a range of perks, including flexible working and wellbeing policies is now a given – what will now set employers out from the crowd in the fierce talent war is being able to boast a high-quality, comfortable office that can cater to their employees’ every needs.