The NEW Work-Life Environment

by Jill Wheeler

The global pandemic turned our long-accepted work routines on their heads. From hourly employees to C-suite executives, office professionals suddenly worked from home. Wearing sweatpants. In their living rooms. With their pets and houseplants nearby.

As COVID-19 winds down, the million-dollar question from employers is: How do we get our employees back to the office? The answer may be to provide an evolved work-life environment that meets the new demands of professionals. But how?

Intentional Office Design

Forward-thinking companies understand that today’s workplace needs to look and function differently. Many new or redesigned workplaces include large rooms with various unassigned workspaces, each with its own vibe. Multiple seating options accommodate individual and collaborative work. Cafes and lounges are being added to compete with the comforts of home. “Zoom rooms,” or conference rooms that support high-definition video and audio have become necessary to connect in-office employees with those working remotely. 

According to Deliotte, a global group of financial-consulting firms, “As we look towards the future of work, we recognize that the nature of work, the workforce, and the workplace have fundamentally shifted. We are intentional about when we co-locate with each other and our clients for maximum impact while empowering our people to preserve the flexibility that they desire.”

At City Center Allentown, we are partnering with new and existing tenants of all sizes to upgrade their traditional office layouts. Some want more flexible floorplans. Others want to add spaces where employees can gather for the social aspects of work, like brainstorming, team building, or connecting over coffee or a meal. While an intentionally designed workplace will look different for every company, the desire to have space that engages employees, promotes their well-being, and enhances collaboration and productivity is universal.

People First Federal Credit Union recently relocated its headquarters from an older building in South Allentown to a new, intentionally designed space at Five City Center in downtown Allentown. President and CEO Howard Meller says, “Our employees have been invigorated and energized by our clean, fresh environment. The open floor plan allows for collaboration between team members, which has led to increased productivity and engagement. We can present People First in the best possible light, and it allows our employees to work in premium space that reflects our premium brand.”

Yes, Location Matters

What makes for an ideal office environment? It begins with the location itself. In downtown Allentown, right outside the office buildings, there’s a vibrant city that’s been a major added benefit to drawing employees back to the office. From bars and restaurants to arts and entertainment, from green space to trendy new apartment communities – all within walking distance of the offices – the downtown is a place where employees want to work.

People First’s Meller adds, “Our employees love the convenience. The office is close to everything they need, from places for lunch meetings to public transportation to our branch on 6th Street. And there’s always something going on downtown, so employees can go out together, and that helps bond our team.”

A great office location can do more than strengthen your corporate culture and employee engagement. It can even help you reach your organization’s goals for growth and profitability.

According to global commercial real estate services firm JLL, “Determining the right location for your office remains a key factor in creating a resilient business plan. It can help attract and retain the best people, many of whom closely monitor where they’re based on optimizing work-life balance—something 72% of employees prioritize. The right location can boost your organization’s long-term performance.”

Interested in enticing your employees back to in-person work? Start with a thoughtfully designed space in a lively, walkable community.

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