What the rise of private clubs predicts for the future of the office
Returning to the office is still a work in progress – complicated by the threat of an economic downturn and the resulting shift in the employer/employee balance of power – but only 16% of employees today work exclusively from home, according to a recent study by JLL. The fastest growing workplace is not the home or the office, but a third place: a café, a hotel lobby or, increasingly, private clubs.
Once a stuffy, exclusive corner of city life – with jacket requirements and strict policies around phone and laptop use – private clubs have emerged from the shadow of the pandemic as a modern nexus for creative professionals, nightlife enthusiasts, foodies and world travelers (among many other niches) who seek a more collective and curated experience than in public spaces or corporate offices.
While private clubs are springing up across the country, they’re probably not the answer to large-scale hybrid work. But their unique combination of physical locations, world-class amenities, hyper-targeted programming, and an air of exclusivity can give office owners and operators the inspiration to innovate the next iteration of the office.
Lead with Hospitality
Before the pandemic, many office buildings were in a hospitality foot-race, adding services and amenities that reminded workers more of an upscale resort than the factory-built design of corporate workplaces. ‘old generation. As offices consider the next evolution of hospitality as part of their return-to-worker strategy, private clubs have already taken the concept far beyond a gym and on-site dining room. square.
At NeueHouse, a hybrid social club and coworking site for creatives, hospitality measures include the expected bar and cafe, but also interiors that have been redesigned to encompass both work and play. This includes plush, comfortable seating that performs double duty as sound deadening, allowing guests to host private conversations while remaining visible for chance encounters. Details such as raised tables that can be used comfortably for dining and typing and enhanced lighting that creates ambience while providing enough luminescence to read a menu or an important document, have been meticulously thought out to provide the best of all worlds. experience to members.
These specifics may be familiar to many in the property management space, but private clubs go above and beyond, hosting art exhibitions that cannot be experienced elsewhere. The goal is to draw and inspire, not just create the visual equivalent of background noise. Private clubs even invent scents to create sensory memories for their members and further establish the tone of the club.
Does the office need a scent? Maybe not. But articulating a vision of what office space is for, how it should be used, and who can best use it can help bridge the gap between the occasional office visit and occupancy rates that most companies wish.
Lifestyle-focused amenities differentiate
In a hybrid work model, the value of the office is to provide a place for socializing, team building, and collaboration. According to a study by JLL, half of remote employees say they miss the social interaction of the office and 44% lack the shared understanding and connections that come with face-to-face work.
But socializing is not enough. In the wake of a global health crisis, most employees want workplace health and wellness amenities and expect their employers to adhere to them. Private clubs have clearly taken this desire to create a more holistic lifestyle approach to health and used it as a differentiator to grow their membership lists.
Bian, a Chicago-based private club, opened in late 2020 just as pandemic-era stay-at-home mandates expired. It’s the ultimate wellness destination, with fitness classes, therapeutic spa services, nutrition consultants, medical concierge, as well as beauty and medical spa treatments. In April, the club added co-working to its growing list of amenities, reflecting the club’s “time is precious” philosophy, minimizing distractions and the need to travel to any other location to get everything you need, from a gourmet meal to executive coaching.
In Los Angeles, the recently opened Heimat combined a luxury fitness experience – including specialized studios for hot yoga, Pilates, boxing, cycling, dance and TRX workouts – with the packaging of a private club. Although the club is organized for the well-being, there is no feeling of deprivation. A rooftop pool, multiple dining options, some of which are open to the public, and spa services all contribute to the common thread of fitness as a lifestyle that runs through everything the club does.
Not every office building can incorporate infrared panels for hot yoga, but improving outdoor and green spaces and providing certain fitness components in these environments can help directly address employee stress. , which is a growing problem for hybrid workers. Early research suggests that the more regularly a person chooses to work, the higher their stress level, with “hyper-hybrid” workers who alternate between three or more locations bearing the greatest stress load.
Providing stress relief in the office solves the problem directly and helps eliminate the need for workers to go elsewhere to get work done. Bringing in wellness services, like chair massages, a special fitness class, or even a Botox event, can further entice individuals to come to the office and help the space feel like a key part of their lives. , rather than just one of many options to complete the job. .
Unlocking the Keys to Community Development
Private clubs create community by tapping into specific common interests: food, travel, and art are just a few places to start. But in the office, the draw is productive work with people who support a similar mission. Private clubs are exclusive; the office is inclusive, a place of engagement and belonging.
But as private clubs and even hotel chains try to move closer to the purpose of the office, the workplace must find new ways to rely on the fusion of the personal and the professional, without completely blurring the lines between both. The idea is all the rage in today’s home clubs, but it’s also helped shape the workplace for years. Work, well-being, socialization and culture are intrinsically linked and must be provided with appropriate space in the workplace if offices are to remain relevant.
But the outlook for the office is not bleak. Those who work in community development know that the workplace still ranks second only to home as the physical place where people feel drawn to spend their time. While home and third places can eat into the corners of the office, it remains the one place where employees can become primarily productive and engaged in their work, a position that is only reinforced by the integration of other measures. lifestyle in the environment.