Shanghai workspace gets a facelift
Companies in Shanghai are expanding and invigorating their offices to reflect the city’s newfound optimism. The Chinese metropolis has just overtaken Tokyo as Asia Pacific’s top commercial real estate investment destination. JLL data indicates that not only did the transaction activity for Shanghai reach a high of USD$8.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016; the city was also fifth as a target for international investment in year-end results—ranking behind global cities New York, London, Los Angeles and Paris.
So what does it take to create a great workspace? Why are sustainability and wellness important? What elements help to keep employees engaged and productive? What are the new technologies inspiring greater efficiencies? Let’s explore these elements by taking a closer look at the new JLL Shanghai office.
Sustainability and wellness
According to Eddie Ng, Managing Director of JLL East China, JLL’s new Shanghai office “reimagines office design while meeting the high environmental standards of LEEDv4 and WELL* Platinum in terms of energy efficiency, facilities and materials, which was a focus for our team in the design process and has become the new standard for JLL offices across the region.”
“For LEED certification, buildings are measured across a number of categories to assess their levels of sustainability including design, construction, operation and maintenance. And we scored well in a new ‘location and transport’ metric which considers walking distance to transit stops, access to bicycles networks and ease of bike storage,” explains Robert Price, Director of Design & Integrated Solutions, PDM—a JLL company. “With close proximity to three metro lines and facilities for bike storage, we’re thrilled that the HKRI Centre Tower met this more stringent standard of LEEDv4 along with several other standards.”
“It was our vision to incorporate plenty of sustainable materials for the interior and the exterior of the office like flooring made of reclaimed wood, and wall finishes that reduce the project’s environmental impact. Our lighting is designed to promote circadian health and is monitored to ensure optimum energy efficiency is achieved,” says Ng.
Ng adds that the health and comfort of the people occupying the office space are of paramount importance, particularly given that most of us spend over 90 percent of our time indoors. Citing air quality—a WELL health and wellness category—as an example, he explains that the new JLL Shanghai office has an air filtration system linked to an app which provides real-time measurement of the air quality indoors and out. This allows the facility managers to optimize indoor air quality for the health of our employees and visitors.
In addition, JLL Shanghai promotes an active lifestyle by offering access to an in-house gym and fitness training and subsidized bicycle-sharing program. And the in-house-café only offers healthy food choices.
Comfort and collaboration
“The JLL office design is centered on the employee because productivity, staff welfare and retention directly impact the firm’s bottom line,” says Ng. “Promoting the experience of nature-derived patterns through indoor biophilia has also been a focus—research suggests these patterns are closely linked with our experience, mood and happiness.”
Price further explains: “With varied desk and space configurations, communal worktables, and state-of-the-art meeting rooms, the design of the new office embraces a flexible, coworking style that encourages collaboration, openness, knowledge-sharing and innovation. Ergonomic furniture gives employees the choice of sitting and standing positions to reduce discomfort and body strain and our unique ’15-minute’ room offers employees somewhere to decompress.”
Staff report feeling “more connected to colleagues than ever,” thanks to new options to “meet and collaborate in a variety of different ways.” Such flexibility, coupled with a combination of adjustable desks and in-house gym, encourages them to work with a balanced body and mind throughout the day.
And the entrance resembles a hotel concierge, complete with brand ambassadors to help staff with their office needs and ensure guests in the office feel welcome. “It is a home away from home,” says Price.
Technology and innovation
Smart technology has been applied in the new office to improve staff productivity and user experience. The Microsoft HoloLens is one great example—it uses hologram technology to project digital content into 3D imagery, allowing cutting edge virtual interaction. “There are three interactive walls we use to engage staff and clients which highlight industry trends and insights,” says Price.
Traditional telephones have been phased out. Employees access Internet-based telecommunications via laptop computers or smartphones while they enter the office and use the lockers via their mobile phones as well.
Breaking it down
What does this mean for companies with expansion or update plans across Asia Pacific? As organizations increase their footprint, it’s crucial that we continue to advance sustainability application in workplaces and registrations for green building certification increase year-on-year, particularly in China and other countries with ambitious environmental objectives. Savvy companies will also aspire toward WELL-certified spaces.
Workspaces have a measurable impact on employee engagement, attraction and retention. And for JLL Shanghai, Ng believes this move will also inspire heightened levels of service excellence for clients. “The upgrade will bring about other benefits such as increased productivity and efficiency, happier staff and improved brand value,” says Ng. “And that’s what’s important to us.”
* WELL certification measures air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind