In a post-pandemic hybrid-working world, occupiers risk workforces becoming disjointed and isolated. This means building workplace community is even more vital. How can destination marketing be used to bring people together?
Before the pandemic, destination marketing in the workplace could be aimed at a captive audience. They are people who were coming to the workplace, regardless of the occupier experience. Today, it’s a very different challenge. Fluctuations occur in the working week. Numbers of people coming to the workplace are unpredictable on any given day. While there are peaks and troughs in engagement, the onsite property team must employ greater cleverness and creativity. They need to organise events and activities that appeal to staff who may not come to the office.
Dina Mistry, Marketing, Communications and Events Manager at Breakspear Park, explains their different approach. The park is managed by Workman and located in Hemel Hempstead. It spans 16 acres, with over 300,000 sq. ft of indoor space, and houses 1,300 employees from various sectors.
“We are no longer planning single-day events because we see a spike for a few hours of uplift in employee engagement, and then the event is over. Our focus is now on growing our community back over a sustained period. Events and activities are running over longer phases, and culminating in the download of our new app,” explains Dina.
A workplace community through Destination Marketing
Before the pandemic, the site attracted a dedicated following who engaged with its vibrant #ParkLife agenda. The agenda featured a variety of events, such as the Ice Bar, Halloween Pumpkin Picking, and Silent Cinema. These events were promoted through email newsletters and a closed Facebook group. The pumpkin event generated positive regional PR and increased the site’s closed Facebook group sign-up rating.
However, the post-pandemic number of employees engaged via email or the Facebook group have reduced to 60% of the usual figure. This was due to factors such as a turnover of occupier staff and new companies arriving at the park. The aim of the new app, explains Dina, is to highlight key awareness dates, recycling initiatives, book swaps and plastic-free ideas. The key message is that “you don’t have to be physically in the office to still feel a part of the Park Life Community at Breakspear Park.”
“The challenge now is to get out there with our #ParkLife campaign and regularly communicate with people. Destination marketing means they can see what we’re doing for them. We’re giving occupiers’ employees things to do that their direct employer cannot offer. This includes freebies, central places to be engaged onsite and encouraging their own wellbeing,” Dina says.
One example includes a flower wall activation that lasted for four weeks in July. The campaign incentivised occupiers’ employees to take selfies, share them on Instagram, and tag #BreakspearPark for a chance to win a four-month subscription to Freddie’s Flowers. In addition, a free Green People organic sunscreen is on offer via QR code to those who download the new Breakspear Park App. The event aims to encourage engagement among staff, create joyful moments with colleagues and restore a sense of togetherness in the post-pandemic period.
Creating engaging workplace communities
During August, the onsite team organised an internationally themed event. Live music was featured from a Caribbean-style steel band,.American Country and Indian music was also played, along with outdoor food pop-ups. The event made use of the site’s 16-acre gardens. It ran for three days – a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This was staggered over three weeks to enable people who may be away during August to take part.
“Our goal is that people coming to work here feel that they are part of the community, which is #Park Life. As such, this summer campaign is an opportunity to network and meet people. The #ParkLife agenda means that Breakspear Park is not just a workplace; it’s a place where the community is formed. Everyone plays a part in its success,” Dina says.
Engaging the community for mutual benefits
While business parks are not often in the most convenient city centre locations, the culture of wellbeing, lifestyle opportunities, leisure provision and collaboration opportunities with other occupiers speaks of an increasing awareness from properties owners as to the kind of strategies their onsite property management teams should be offering. The best onsite property management teams create inclusive, supportive work environments, unifying the commercial goals of the landlord with the realisation of a better work-life balance for individuals through the range of activities on offer for those onsite.
As Andrew Sparrow, Director of Placemaking in Workman’s Activate team explains: “We are aiming to achieve asset management objectives by increasing occupier satisfaction and retention levels. There is a competitive market in terms of where businesses now take space, so occupiers will question the added value of each site, and what they and their employees stand to gain from it in terms of community and wellbeing.”
The #ParkLife concept at Breakspear Park, launched by Dina and the team in 2018, has grown from infancy into a value-adding proposition that helps the site stand out from competitor workspace solutions for its heightened employee benefits and wellbeing solutions.
Entertainment is combined with the realisation of a better work-life balance for individuals through a range of regular activities. Examples include a health screening programme and fitness studio classes. These create inclusive, supportive working communities, in unison with the commercial goals of the property. For example, the #ParkLife programme has included events around National Relaxation Week. Up to 800 30-minute massages are offered to employees on-site, as well as a Health Screenings Programme, including free Diabetes Screening, that serves as an effective employee benefit and wellbeing option.
Collaborating with the community for employment opportunities
There is also a desire for business parks to reach out to the communities around them. They collaborate with schools, charities, community groups and local council to generate routes into employment at the site. “It’s about connecting people and building pathways within the community,” says Andrew. “We call it destination marketing. However, what we are doing is unifying the goals of the asset with those of the occupiers and their employees.”
Read more about our approach to Building Community across our managed portfolio.