Communities and social responsibility

We all like being around other like-minded people, right?

Whether that’s at work, when we pop out for a spot of lunch, or a drink in the evening. So, it makes sense to have buildings that are both in the middle of the action and that contribute to it.

There are two communities to consider - the people that work in our buildings and those that live and work around them. We want our occupiers to love their office and the local community to embrace it as a dynamic addition their streetscape. But the whole should be more than the sum of its parts. A successfully integrated development brings added value to both communities.

Engagement should start at the very outset of a project, with meaningful consultation and a commitment to create local jobs, education opportunities and benefit to local businesses. During construction, safe working environments need to be prioritised and good neighbour policies promoted. Social Responsibility isn’t an administrative box to be ticked, it’s a living partnership we form with the communities within which we work.

A new workspace shouldn’t be imposed upon a community, it should something that is welcomed and embraced.

The best way to achieve that, we’ve found, is to get local people involved right from the outset, whether it’s by creating amazing graffiti artworks on our hoarding, holding open-days and events on site, handing out a free coffee, or animating an entire building with a light show. Once the building’s open, coffee shops, cafés and restaurants often enliven the streetscape and bring a new vibrancy which can be appreciated by all.

It’s important to create a sense of joy in an office. Something its occupiers can feel the benefit of each and every time they come to work.

Creating shared experience within a building is such a positive thing, whether it’s the smell of freshly ground coffee in reception, a new piece of art, an event, or a social gathering. Our Concierge teams go out of their way to ensure there’s always something in the diary.

Open communal spaces present those opportunities to mix and provide potential for cross-fertilisation between occupiers.

Insightful architecture designs these spaces in right from the start. The 100m ‘street’ that runs right through the middle of our Charter Building in Uxbridge is a great example. The more people find they have in common, the closer they become as a community.

Some things are just worth investing in and when it comes to community, we’re all in it together.

Sometimes, creating these shared environments, in what might otherwise be prime lettable space (such as our Roost club space at Thames Tower or the Penthouse and Roof Terrace at 1 Queen Caroline Street), can feel a little at odds with received commercial wisdom, but the benefits in occupier experience (and ultimately loyalty) far out-weight any short-term downside. It’s all about being part of something bigger. It’s called community.