Written by Tracy Wilson, Managing Partner of Pacific Workplaces
Hospitality has always been an imperative component for the success of a flexible office business. At Pacific Workplaces (PAC), we closely monitor our client testimonials and online reviews – delighting in the great experiences shared by our members and cringing at those that give us opportunities to do better.
We take many of our queues from the hotel industry, rightly so, we are both in the “space meets service” business. We make sure to have thoughtful presentations of coffee, specialty teas, fresh fruit, snacks, wine and cheese and … glorious donuts. We consider the comfort of our members so sit/stand desks, plenty of oxygenating greenery, private phone booths, mediation rooms and outdoor patios are always considered during space planning. And, we always have a ‘we are so, so glad to see you today’ greeting and smile from the front office team that should, if done right, result in a release of endorphins from even the most curmudgeonly member.
During the COVID crisis, technology has driven so much of the successful role of Work from Home (WFH) solutions, making them sufficiently doable or better in the short-term. Doses of resilience and a flexible attitude have helped as well. A question was posed to me recently: What technological solutions will win the day for the operational success of the flex office in the mid-to-post COVID environment? My answer was non-technological … the operational success will come through “high -touch” (yet, touchless) hospitality.
Zoom fatigue will remain, though will likely become a dull ache similar to the ‘too many, too lengthy’ in-person meeting complaints of many pre-COVID office workers. Cloud document management systems, digital mail scanning, and never-ending online ordering solutions for office and personal needs have also made all this possible. These technologies make WFH possible, but they won’t be the reason employers and workers choose a flex office solution.
Flexible offices offer a variety of Virtual Office services and other amenities that will entice workers to emerge from the confines of their homes. There’s the quiet(er) space free from progeny, pets and partners (a new PPP for our COVID repertoire), the afore-mentioned sit/stand desks – a decided relief from dining table induced back pain, and….I believe, the real reason to change out of the workout pants, brush one’s hair, and take some of the risks that come from leaving the confines of home, will be that when one goes to the office, they are quite simply, delighted by the experience.
It will be of the utmost importance to up our hospitality game. At the annual Global Workspace Assocaition Conference – the in-person one – last September, we were treated to a presentation where The Ritz Carlton shared with us two of the secrets to their exceptional service success: 1) the crazy level of empowerment they grant their staff to create exceptional experiences for their guests, to the tune of $2,000 per guest, and, 2) the relentless and consistent training of their staff to their core service values and expectations.
I didn’t appreciate the presentation’s lessons for our business at the time, but in the last few months I’ve thought about our value proposition on the backside and I’m convinced, exceptional hospitality is the answer! We probably all could do a bit better reaching for the Ritz-level of service for our members. It is incumbent on all of us to make decisions to stay healthy – but getting back to life means engaging in a bit more risk. And, to make the risk have more worth, there has to be a payoff. For our members, that payoff will be the social-emotional value of going to a place where they just feel good and are happy to be there. This doesn’t have to cost. In fact, a genuine smile is free and plentiful.
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