Young generations of workers are demanding changes in the workplace that aren’t just aesthetic. In Asia, attracting and retaining talent is becoming increasingly difficult as young generations show an appetite for change and seek to not only take the best workplace practises from the West but also evolve them for Asia.
While workplace culture has traditionally been the responsibility of employers, property brands and developments may also need to play a role. Babby Fung, head of office marketing at Swire Properties, believes there’s no question about it.
In early March, the property brand launched “Not Any Place”, a brand campaign for Taikoo Place. “It’s not a rebrand, but we want to reinforce Taikoo Place as a destination for office professionals and like-minded people who want to balance work and play,” said Fung.
The campaign includes a range of promotional initiatives: a collection of scented candles and fragrances labelled with taglines will be available for free order during lunchtime over two days, and a series of OOH advertisements, popup displays, stunts and street parties will lead to the campaign’s climax at the end of April.
However, what is not apparent about the campaign is that it’s part of a larger five-year brand plan. “We need to reshape workplaces for young generations,” said Fung. “The young are more concerned with the software of their workplace rather than just hardware.”
In other words, amenities and nice buildings are a given. Office brands need to push beyond that to create infrastructure that supports the future workforce’s intangible needs.
The challenge for property marketers and brand strategists is threefold: to constantly come up with ideas that engage tenants; create a culture within cultures, an overarching structure within a physical building that unifies tenants under a connected community platform that creates value; evolve and shape the future workforce.
According to Fung, Swire Properties is aligned with these challenges, with the objectives of being people-first and creating long-term sustainable development that looks after the cultural and emotional needs of occupiers, while also providing total solutions to businesses.
Compared with other product categories, office properties not only have much longer lifecycles but also tend to be seen for their utility. They can quickly become peripheral. “Even with our campaigns, it’s hard to get the attention of office workers and tenants,” said Fung.
As such, community and tenant-engagement programs seem to be the area in which Fung and her team have had the most success—and where further opportunities lie.
For example, “a cappella-la-la”, an initiative featuring over 40 office executives in a bespoke a cappella theatrical production staged at ArtisTree, recruited people digitally and then brought companies and communities together at Taikoo Place.
“We’ve discovered our tenants are so multitalented,” said Fung. “We created the platform to allow these professionals to get together and unleash their talent. It’s about place making and helping to ensure people are happier to come to work.”
Having demolished Somerset House in Quarry Bay, Swire Properties is in the midst of a seven-year, 6-million-square-foot office redevelopment project that will include a 69,000-square-foot landscape garden.
“Five years down the road, we will be ready for a new generation of workers,” said Fung. “This is just the beginning of the process of evolving our brand.”