Question: What could turn office-bound wage earners into digital nomads faster than a fully equipped Winnebago? Answer: The Covid-19 pandemic, of course.
Covid liberated once-inert employees to move freely and work where they chose. For many, what they chose was the chance to travel widely, working from hotels and other hospitality industry settings. Marrying work and hospitality served the needs of both globetrotting office workers and hostelries where they chose to rest their heads.
Now that employees are inching back to the workplace, some say designers of offices can gain much from studying the ways hospitality settings are designed.
The concept of tackling office work tasks while savoring the relaxation, ease and attentive service of a hotel might today be referred to as “workspitality,” a concept that finds office design inspired by the kinds of convenient creature comforts woven into many hotel designs.
These amenities may range from fitness centers and bistros to tech-forward features integrated into the architectural infrastructure. Above all, the idea of workspitality, with its focus on supercharging work productivity by making the setting more enjoyable, is a means of luring high-level employees, prized clients and great investment partners.
A number of companies have advanced the concept.
Philadelphia, Pa.-based commercial real estate development and investment company Keystone has reimagined its offices to incorporate hospitality-industry cues. The firm’s Conshohocken headquarters building, 1K1, has integrated such hotel-like features as cafes, fitness and wellness amenities, outdoor work areas with seating, games and WiFi and such experiential features as communal lounges.
Design firm Benoy, with offices from London to Shanghai, had advanced five ways to bring hotel-like qualities to the workplace. They range from making clients and employees feel valued in the front-of-the-house reception area to forging a dynamic and affirmative brand experience that fits with the personal world views of employees.
Teknion, a company providing an integrated portfolio of furniture for the modern office, has observed that great hotels capture market share by anticipating the needs of their guests in every facet from comfort to entertainment to ability to undertake heads-down work, and that the workplace should provide similar hospitality at all touchpoints.
Workspitality acknowledges that “a positive work environment leads to enhanced productivity, creativity and overall satisfaction,” says Samuele Sordi, chief architect at Miami, Fla.-based Pininfarina of America, which like Benoy is among the leading design firms exploring the possibilities of workspitality.
“Drawing inspiration from the hospitality industry, workspaces are now being designed to provide a warm, inviting atmosphere that cultivates a sense of belonging and community among employees.”
Among hallmarks of workspitality, like many post-Covid office design concepts, is a focus on infusing a great deal more flexibility into offices, giving the office worker as many alternatives as a guest at a fine hotel might enjoy.
“Spaces should be adaptable and provide different settings – such as private work stations, collaborative areas, relaxation zones and interactive communal spaces – so employees can select the environments that best suit their task, mood and work style,” Sordi commented.
At the same time, workspitality takes its cues from the fine hotels’ amenity suites, incorporating extras that add to employees’ enjoyment, wellbeing and convenience. Among such amenities may be wellness areas and fitness facilities, on premise restaurants or coffee shops, game rooms, art installations and relaxation areas.
“These features not only foster employee well-being, but also encourage collaboration, social interaction and a healthy work-life balance,” Sordi explained.
These days, hotels are also known for providing leading-edge technology features, helping to ensure guests can connect with their colleagues and clients and work with great efficiency from the comfort of their hotel rooms or business centers.
It follows that workspitality pulls in the same kinds of tech advancements, including smart systems, IoT devices and intuitive digital interfaces. The tools heighten efficiency, connectivity and customization, helping make for a seamless user experience enabling workers to concentrate on their work without dealing with interruptions.
The bottom line is that workspitality pulls in and keeps the greatest talent, due to the fact work-life balance engenders greater job satisfaction and loyalty. “It also [reflects] the organization’s values and commitment to its employees,” Sordi says.
“Such spaces project a positive brand image, fostering a sense of pride and attracting potential clients, partners and investors.”