The world has radically changed and shifted over the course of the past two years and no facet of people’s lives has remained unaffected. The notion and very fabric of work environments have been greatly disrupted, forcing businesses to confront what this new reality calls for, with no clear path laid out for how to navigate it.
The way forward? Office spaces need to reflect this new kind of working. Office spaces need to be reimagined in a way that cater for greater connectivity, enhanced wellbeing and the reality that many workers will adopt a hybrid system that will enable them to work from home and the office in a seamless manner. Avenue 77 is a project that delivers this new kind of space. The 12,000sqm project connects five blocks of flexible office solutions, retail and catering facilities and offers three floors of an underlying car park .With 7,000sqm of ready to be tailored offices and a 3,000sqm business centre complete with fully serviced offices, meeting and training rooms, a marketplace, a pitch arena and conference facilities, Avenue77 has left no stone unturned.
At a recent event hosted by the Director of Avenue 77, Raf Augustinus insisted that “We are service providers not real estate developers – and that meant that we could approach the development of Avenue 77 in a different way. We are developing offices where we would like to work ourselves.” He proceeded to introduce three international key speakers, who shared their expert views on the current global real estate market and flexible office solutions. The aforementioned speakers were:
James Rankin, Head of Research and Insight at The Instant Group who specializes in the flexible and agile workspace industry, supporting occupiers, landlords and providers of flexible space with data and insight.
Andy Wilson, Head of Property Management and Business Office Services, globally responsible for office acquisitions, whole scale fitouts and the facilities management operations.
Nicolas Kint, a Property Tech Entrepreneur who co-founded two start-ups and is on the board of Parkoffice, a business centre in Ghent; co-founder of Soulbricks.be that builds serviced real estate concepts in Belgium and now also for Avenue 77 in Malta.
Together they shared their views on the importance of absolute connectivity in any work environment, an element which Avenue 77 aims to create by offering a guest experience that integrates comfort, workspace, technology and a relaxed ambience, where one can choose to be alone or to interact and socialise with colleagues.
Such connectivity is also driven by technology. Full connectivity to all occupants is provided in the meeting rooms, training rooms as well as throughout the entire business centre, inclusive of the retail space at the Avenue. Additionally, tenants will also be offered complete internet telephony services, ensuring that they can be reached on their office number whether working remotely, in a meeting room or whenever they are travelling.
Raf Augustinus continued to explain that the whole concept and essence of Avenue 77 could be elucidated through four key areas, as set out below.
“First is hospitality. We have invested in some hotels in Belgium – and this has taught us how to make a difference in hospitality. We will translate this into a high-level service offering at Avenue 77, where employees and guests will always feel welcome.
The second area is technology – Avenue 77 will avail of cutting-edge technology, including the dedicated Avenue 77 app which will provide most of the offered services. Through this app, employees would be able to access their office space and lifts. Workers will also be informed of any visitor arrivals, be able to book meeting rooms with extras, receive notifications of deliveries, connect with all tenants of Avenue 77 and be informed of all concierge services provided and community events being organised.
Sustainability is also key. A lot of effort is being invested into designing and creating a comfortable work environment with natural light, sound isolation and optimum air quality.”
Avenue 77 is aiming to achieve a ‘very good’ BREEAM certification – a testament to how Avenue 77 has been designed to address pertinent issues such as carbon emission reduction, energy consumption, use of low impacting materials, waste reduction and most importantly prioritises health and wellbeing. Furthermore, Avenue 77 also promotes various alternative means of transport, with a mobility partner that offers various pay-as-you-use packages for e-scooters, car-sharing and e-bikes. Charging points for electric vehicles will also be provided.
“The fourth area is wellbeing and community management.”
At Avenue 77, wellbeing is paramount and our team of experts have focused on ensuring optimal air quality, appropriate lighting, an ergonomic design and much sought after amenities to enhance the wellbeing of tenants and visitors alike. This will contribute to creating a close-knit community, where people are able to enjoy collaborating whilst at work and to connect outside office hours, through various social events being organised. As succinctly stated by Kint, “For a community to thrive, one needs to create the social areas for it. You need to create spaces where encounters can happen. At Avenue 77 these spaces will be there.”
This element of community will be further solidified and enhanced through the restaurants, cafes, fitness centre and other retail outlets located at street level, all of which aim to create a hub environment. The Avenue 77 offering is all about flexibility and weaving this into the solutions and packages that we offer.
Rankin expressed that: “We are being approached by larger corporates and medium sized firms, who are increasingly open to moving away from their traditional leases and are looking for a more service lead solution.”
He emphasized that: “This is quite exciting as with this change in customer comes a change in the requirement. We see greater demand for larger private offices that still deliver the key attributes of flexible space, cost certainty, access to open plan areas, value added services, easy move in and out but alongside this the desire to make the space their own with branding and soft furnishings.”
Asked where customers’ priorities lie at the moment, Rankin added that: “Value added services are key therefore, creating an environment where everything is close by and easy to access means that when people do come into the office they can access a whole raft of services that ultimately makes their life easier.”
Augustinus concluded by adding that “Overseas we are seeing real estate developers adapting hotel concepts in an office environment. This ‘hotelification’ trend is related to the community-aspect of real estate as a service. Trendy hotels create lobbies that become places to meet people, with a cosy bar or a strong food concept, they not only attract hotel guests and tourists, but also neighbour residents and people having an office in the area. Such a concept will work very well in a business centre such as Avenue 77.
This has posed a challenge for all projects in the Central Business District. Currently, it is impossible for us to get a permit to integrate serviced apartments or a hotel service in Avenue 77.
The Central Business District will evolve gradually into a relatively scaled business district as in global major cities. This should push the authorities to open permits for residential developments and hotels to accommodate the influx of employees, especially foreigners in the area.
Office buildings are redeveloped into mixed complexes that seek to combine living, working and entertainment in one place, making the most optimal use of space. Food for thought for the future?
Challenging times indeed. But so much fun!”
Avenue 77 truly embodies the very essence of this ‘new kind of workplace’, by offering a fresh take on the concept of office space as we know it and placing you, your business and your success at the centre of Avenue 77.