Companies who invest in a service-focused model will reap the rewards in a more competitive market, suggests Beth Hampson, Commercial Director at The Argyll Club.

The office market could learn a great deal from the hospitality industry. Hotels don’t often receive five-star reviews just because of their location or the building’s design as it’s stellar service that will make a good experience into a great one. As the flexible workspace market continues to grow and new players make their mark, competition to attract and retain occupiers will only increase. In this climate, those who invest in a service- focused, rather than real estate-focused, model and concentrate on service from the front door to back office support will see the results.

Although offices and the way we work have changed a great deal over the years, the old saying ‘first impressions count’ still rings true. There is no second chance to make a great first impression and so a strong front of house team is essential.

So, let’s start at the front door. Before even entering an office, occupiers and their clients will notice its address. For businesses in London, certain postcodes attract certain brands, sectors and professions. Take Canary Wharf and financiers; hedge funds and Mayfair; and insurance firms and EC3. Occupiers can leverage a prestigious address to add value to their business and brand by being seen in a certain location. But, when entering the building itself, the front of house welcome is crucial.

Reception staff who offer a greeting parallel to the experience at a premium hotel can prove a valuable asset in the modern office. Similarly, those that manage the simple things effectively, such as transferring


calls, setting up meetings and providing refreshments seamlessly, can create a vital, high-quality first impression. However, providers can’t expect that this will happen automatically. They must begin to see investment in staff training as a must-have rather than a nice-to- have. Remember that the hospitality industry is rooted in training courses and service qualifications, and the office industry may increasingly follow suit.

Adding the human touch Beyond the front door, moving further into the office building, we come to breakout spaces, communal lounges and kitchen areas. Although the design of these spaces is important, there are still service principles to consider. In a world that operates at 100mph with mass produced products and services, a space that feels carefully thought-out with personal touches is working its way up the agenda when a business is considering its workplace.

For example, simple things can again go a long way in creating a personal workspace: providing refreshments that are tailored to the preferences of the current occupiers, like stocking their favourite tea in the kitchen; ensuring that all of the staff know the clients’ by name; and organising networking events where each occupier can get to know the team and their neighbours. With unbranded offices, personalised communal spaces and a service team that feels like part of the client’s business, a serviced office can quickly feel their own. As a result, we have increasingly seen businesses choosing workspaces

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