These places are not just selling or attending clients anymore. They are now aggregating services and activities that give a enriched experience between the consumer and the brand.
And I foresee the future of office will be similar, going from private to public and shared, and building up infrastructures and agenda to create a network of sustainable activities. Employees too are looking for experiences that will augment their day to day, rather than operational tasks.
It’s a challenge for all companies. But some are already taking notice (and the rise of the CHO – Chief Happiness Officer – might be part of this trend).
Look at Apple’s strategy with their stores. The switch is impressive a year after the integration of Angela Ahrendts from Burberry and how the reshaping of their main iconic store in San Francisco has been executed.
Some will say it’s more a temple than a shop. I’d say it’s the corner stone of Apple’s new strategy to define the Apple Store as the leading platform to experience the brand in all its aspects, for all its customers.
People can touch and try the products, developers can come and get pro training sessions, everybody can come, meet and enjoy the free Wifi, customers can come back for support and training to. Starbucks in a way has been pioneering this trend. Come get a coffee and stay as long as you want. How many professional meetings has been held in Starbucks ?
The same is happening in the coworking ecosystem. It is moving from small specific places with shared desks (300 square meters, freelance profesionals in residency, little extra activities, poor office furniture) to bigger open spaces, several floors and an open mind, with frenzy agendas, every single day of the year. Coworking spaces are specializing around industries, topics. You will go to one because you will find a bundle of community, services, events, tools around design or app development, etc.
Meanwhile, other players are also integrating office spaces into their own ecosystem. Aéroport de Paris just opened a brand new, connected, space (600 M2) for professionals on the go. Free to access, with meeting room, free WiFi and and a filled agenda of events, ADP wants commuters to optimise their waiting time by “developing their professional network” and create new business opportunities.
A business center in the middle of an airport and a shopping mall ? Why not ?
Companies should notice. Their employees will ask first for more flexibility, then bring back this spirit in the HeadQuarters, asking HR responsible and CEO for an more opened culture and additional experience. Beyond happiness, this might be the company culture that some will have to re-invent if they want to attract and retain talent.
And this, goes through rethinking the office and getting out of the cubicle era.