A Culture of Convenience: Work Comes to Life, When Life Comes to Work

by PlaceLabFeb 5th, 2020

Business recruiters on the hunt for great talent say it’s not enough to provide perks such as a gym membership. What good is a membership if you can’t find the time to go to the gym? In today’s competitive environment, companies must take a holistic look at the close relationship between their employees’ work and their personal life, because “work-life balance” does not accurately describe what’s happening in the new workplace. 

Today’s workers aren’t seeking an equal balance between their separate work and home lives. Our tech-driven, always-on lifestyle demands work-life integration.

“You can work from home, and you can hang out and live at the office, so our spaces are starting to respond to that,” said Adam Rolston, Creative and Managing Director of Incorporated Architecture and Design. “Because work is spreading beyond, I think we have to use our emotional and life resources differently when we’re in the workplace.”

Companies need to think beyond surface-level perks and focus on making the workspace a living space.

If companies can create a culture that allows their employees to balance their home and work life harmoniously, they will find that this can be just as important as pay rates for increasing recruitment and retention. Employees who feel supported by their organizations tend to become walking billboards for a brand, which can save a company substantially on recruiting costs.

Supporting work-life integration boils down to acknowledging the importance of convenience, the fourth “C” in EQ Office’s philosophy of “Space for Greatness: The 4Cs of Spatial Alchemy.” 

Convenience: Flexibility Matters Most

Today’s successful companies need to think beyond surface-level perks and focus on making the workspace a living space. Health care, retirement and paid vacations? Those are benefits. Gym memberships or employee discounts? Those are perks. 

In a convenience-driven workspace, the benefits and perks are still on offer, but so are well-considered solutions that embed convenience in the day-to-day lives of the talent. These solutions include child care, diverse and high-quality food options, wellness activities and services, and at the top of the list, options that permit flexibility as people try to integrate their work and life.

Yoga classes are offered to tenants at EQ Office's 350 North Orleans.

Schedule and workplace flexibility, in fact, are the conveniences that talent seeks out above all else, and are so much in demand that they’re becoming the new norm.

Schedule and workplace flexibility are the conveniences that talent seeks out above all else, and are so much in demand that they’re becoming the new norm.

Options are vital. Today’s talent has come to expect to be able to work anywhere, anytime: Flexibility is a potential bonus that can tip the scale toward saying yes to a job offer. This means offering people the choice to avoid freeways during peak hours or presenting them with a selection of curated workspaces that recognize their preferences, so they can concentrate in a quiet environment, hold meetings or brainstorm together over food and drink. Workplaces designed for immediate drop-in, comfort and Wi-Fi establish ease and flexibility for mobile workers, who use technology to work both in and outside the workplace. The number 1.87 billion people, or 42% of the workforce globally, in 2020.

Playa District has partnered with Industrious to create a host of collaboration, conferencing and amenity experiences across the campus. Photo credit: Chris Ozer

Conveniently Close: Kids, Top Chefs and Wellness

Proximity equals convenience, whether it’s child care, food or fitness.

Child care is the top reason why employees miss work, are tardy, or work a shorter day, so it’s no wonder that on-site child care is growing in popularity. Amy Baker, a general manager at EQ Office’s U.S. Bank Centre in Seattle, appreciates the advantages of having her two children cared for at Pacific First Montessori, located on the ground floor of the building. “It's having the ability to go downstairs and see your child if you need to,” she says. “I can go nurse my 5-month-old, and I can visit my older daughter at lunch.”

Offering on-site child care might also help recruit more women in tech, according to Emily Chang, author of BroTopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley. “Silicon Valley companies have largely been created in the image of their mostly young, mostly male, mostly childless founders.” 

Rotating food trucks every day and a weekly farmer’s market make the lunch scene both exciting and convenient at EQ’s Playa District in Los Angeles, while chef collaborations, such as the one at 1740 Broadway in New York City, reimagine food in the workplace. John Fraser, a Michelin-starred New York chef, was tapped to develop a cafe concept on the lobby mezzanine and offer catering services throughout the building for cocktail receptions and sit-down dinners inside the workspaces. 

At EQ’s Willis Tower, the Tone fitness center is preparing to launch “Lunch and Learns” on different topics to help infuse work with wellness. “It’s about fitness, but it’s also teaching about wellness to help people stay healthy in the workplace,” says Lindsey Vaughn, Tone’s general manager. 

Meanwhile, the first five floors of Willis Tower make up Catalog, a highly curated mix of retail, food and activity space whose offerings are made instantly accessible with the My Willis Tower app. Every occupant of this office tower can book a class or make a reservation via smartphone. 

EQ Office’s Willis Tower in Chicago: Catalog, five floors of retail, services and restaurants

Innovative Solutions to Thrive

Any company that embraces solutions for work-life integration, and promotes a culture of convenience, is set up to attract the best talent. Check out some other innovative solutions that allow talent to thrive.

Challenge: Can’t squeeze in time to exercise

Why Needed: The Mayo Clinic says exercise in “almost any form” is a stress reliever. Stress relief boosts health, happiness and overall productivity/creativity in the workplace.  

  • Autodesk in San Francisco has treadmill desks side by side so people can have a meeting while they are exercising on the treadmill.

  • Colliers International in Toronto offers employee wearable devices to track everything from motion to stress, and suggests that they get up to move around when they’re feeling stressed out.

  • Prana headquarters in Carlsbad, California, and Athleta in Petaluma, California, both have fitness classes in a designated space on workdays.

Gensler-designed treadmill desks at Autodesk, San Francisco; Photo credit Michael Townsend

Challenge: A lack of healthy/quality food options on site

Solutions: A recent study found that more than half of U.S. workers eat unhealthy foods at work because of the limited options available to them on site. However, 91% of them report that they would prefer more healthy choices and believe this could help them improve their diet at home. Obesity is now linked to 40% of all cancers in the United States.

  • In Chicago and New York, a startup called Farmer’s Fridge creates healthy salads, bowls and snacks and dispenses them in vending machines that can be installed in a building upon request.

  • Roaming Hunger has worked with companies like American Express to set up food courts with food trucks at office parks.

Challenge: Employee personal hygiene, family life and well-being may suffer due to the difficulty of scheduling self-care or care appointments for the family – e.g. haircuts, kid pickups, dog day care and doctor’s appointments.

Solutions: One workplace survey found that more than half of employees would like their companies to take an active role in supporting their well-being. A SHRM report showed that bringing services on site helped millennials to take advantage of their dental benefits.