By John Drover, CEO, Argyll
According new search by independent consultancy Barnett Waddingham, 85% of UK businesses said they had been negatively affected by the pandemic-induced ‘big quit’ and are prioritizing staff retention this year. After two tumultuous years, employee demands have changed, with the main wishes now being hybrid working capabilities, flexible working hours and benefits that go beyond pay increases.
However, for the financial services community that is our primary customer base, face-to-face meetings are critical to the success of their businesses, and so employee demands differ slightly. Employees should have the best of both office and home: creating an informal, welcoming office space with an upscale environment and boutique residential feel. Set-desk, private offices with the possibility of breakout spaces are in demand in the financial sector. These spaces allow team members to meet and collaborate, as well as welcome customers in a low-key, upscale environment that mimics the company’s brand and continues to inspire employees to step into the building.
More than bricks and mortar
For the financial services community, executives are now looking for an office that embodies the residential vibe employees need after leaving full-time work from home. A high-end office that fosters a sense of productivity, calm and quality can be key to enticing existing talent to return to the office post-lockdown. More than that, the office is key to recruiting – it can make a vital first impression.
For example, many financial services companies are currently looking for ambitious young talent for whom a company’s location plays an important role in job selection. Offices in key London centers such as Bank or Mayfair ensure that companies have a range of bars, shops and restaurants close to the office and in turn can offer their young recruits a social life active and quick access to the best of London.
A networking hub
Businesses should not underestimate the brand credentials that a high-end office can offer them for both new hires 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’s website and provide a vital networking foundation.
For example, take our client Stewart Bevan, who runs management consultancy Kaihen from our building at 1 King Street in the City. He says, “My office provides me with a convenient walk-in networking center with both the option of a common space for casual conversation, as well as a private office for more discreet conversations. »
The pandemic has taken a toll on companies’ sense of identity, but that can be rebuilt. The office can enable companies to develop relationships, bring teams together and build brands, achieving goals consistent with pandemic recovery strategies. For financiers looking to get the most out of in-person collaboration, team building, and networking, a central office in an impressive environment is essential.
Comfort above all
So what does the future office actually look like? After two years of forced telecommuting, financial companies are looking for an office that matches the comfort their employees are used to. The offices of the future must be top of the line – in terms of design, location, comfort and technology. For example, in Argyll, we are investing £27 million in a major refurbishment programme, together with grand designs presenter Damion Burrows to upgrade and modernize eight prime buildings in central London. With high-end interior design and furnishings; technology to support hybrid working; and even a signature fragrance designed by perfumer Azzi Glasser, the aim is to create a welcoming and luxurious environment.
Working in financial services is not about low pressure: an office can and should be an effective tool, helping companies focus on growing their business by creating an environment that meets all their requirements. Ultimately, financial services professionals are now looking for a workplace that offers high-quality comfort at their disposal, as well as the IT support and technology to ensure a seamless transition from their home office to the office in the city. . The future of work requires high-quality spaces that facilitate productivity and networking in a hybrid age.
After talking to our own customers, it’s clear that after two years of technology malfunctioning, high-quality technology is crucial to the future of the office. Video call booths with expert lighting and soundproofing allowing discreet conversations are now at the top of the priority list. First-class, hotel-grade customer service is also crucial for financial services companies looking to seamlessly navigate hybrid working.
With a recent report citing that 60% of employees are looking for a new job, there’s no better time for employers to act quickly to meet new demands. A contract that offers a range of benefits, including flexible working and well-being policies, is now a given – what will now differentiate employers from the crowd in the fierce war for talent is being able to boast of having a comfortable, high-quality office that can accommodate all the needs of their employees.