And the trend is set to escalate in 2019, as the sector matures.
WeWork Australia General Manager Balder Tol said that it was natural for the company to create places with “a very residential feel”.
“The world of work is changing and the lines between work and life are increasingly blurred,” he told sidespace.com.au.
“Given that we spend as much time at the office as we do at home, it follows that the work culture and the physical environment needs to inspire and create a feeling of comfort to bring out the best in people too.”
Weekly meditation sessions, yoga classes and lunch-and-learn get-togethers are a few ways WeWork advocates work-life integration.
Mr Tol said it is important to keep employees happy as they are “at the heart of an organisation”.
“Culture, behaviour and happiness – which in turn boosts productivity – can dramatically improve within a space that is thoughtfully designed. Therefore, ensuring (employees) have the infrastructure they need to thrive in their roles is crucial.
“Whether this means providing collaborative workspaces for teams to work together freely or making sure employees have the appropriate technological support, providing them with an optimum work environment will ensure they have purpose and enthusiasm to thrive, and profit will naturally follow.”
And with “enterprise member companies” - businesses with at least 1000 employees around the world - accounting for almost 30 percent of WeWork’s total membership, focusing on employee satisfaction is proving to be an imperative for the group.
Colliers International’s Director of Tenant Advisory Rowan Humphreys said corporate occupants have diverse expectations of the spaces they use, seeking both professional workplaces and more casual coworking-style spaces.
“Colliers has seen corporates are seeking higher quality and more professional-looking spaces, with better furniture, increased privacy and their own identity,” he said.
“Conversely, other corporates have allowed a particular team or division to occupy space in a coworking centre, often in a different part of town to their head office, to enable that division to create a different culture and attract different staff.
“In this case, the appeal may be for a less corporate environment and things like free beer, more creative fit-outs and a more collaborative environment may be the key attractors.”
Buildings lacking amenities such as end-of-trip facilities are “deal-breakers” for many of Mr Humphreys’ clients seeking prime-grade office space, from big corporates through to small and medium-sized enterprises.
“We are also seeing landlords of these buildings increasingly offering things like yoga and pilates classes or bootcamp-style fitness classes either free for tenants or heavily subsidised. However, we don’t see these offerings as a must-have, rather it reflects a market trend.”
While lounge spaces or “third spaces” have been common in Australia in the past few years, Mr Humphreys expects these to evolve into event spaces, suites of meeting rooms and more sophisticated food-and-beverage facilities.
In fact, the trend of incorporating “third spaces” has been adopted by office landlords in Asia, using Australian examples as the model.
Mr Humphreys pointed out as the flexible workspace sector matures, the bar for workplace design, fit-outs and amenities is set to be raised.
“Cramming an end user into a small glass box with cheap furniture is no one’s idea of an inspiring workspace and in no way is this conducive to productivity or wellness, only offering a cheap office space to satisfy bottom lines,” he said.
“Occupiers will begin to look more at less tangible metrics such as wellness, staff retention and productivity rather than the obvious financial benefits of squeezing space densities.
“Meanwhile landlords must be mindful of this trend and that the workplace needs to become a more experience-driven environment and the arms-length, light-touch, transactional era is coming to an end.”
Cover Photo: WeWork says they aim to fill their spaces with light and green plants to make members feel at ease when they work. (Photo: Supplied)