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The role of the office in creating thriving business communities

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Many businesses are now looking ahead to returning to an office environment. In fact, recent research found that 50% of leaders say their company “already requires, or plans to require, full-time in-person work in the year ahead”.  

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to a shift in thinking around the ‘role’ of the office, with many businesses re-evaluating their space to ensure that it supports employee wellbeing and creates a sense of community. 

So, what role can office space play in creating a thriving business culture? 

Boosting creativity and collaboration 

Business leaders based at Lakeside North Harbour also highlighted the importance of flexible, well-designed office space and access to nature.  

Will Kelly, Director of Lakeside-based workplace provider Portsdown said: “The type of space that businesses need is changing, shifting away from offices that are built to support individual activities to more open plan, creative and collaborative environments. 

“Lakeside’s buildings and grounds offer our employees flexibility - Lakeside even has space to work outdoors, including a three to four-man hut that looks out over the lake.” 

Supporting health and wellbeing 

A Government-backed study recently reaffirmed the benefits of outdoor space on health and wellbeing, finding that parks and green spaces in England and Wales provide adults with £25.6bn of ‘welfare value’ each year.  

Lakeside’s 130-acre campus is unique for its immediate access to blue and green space and a plethora of opportunities to connect with nature on site. 

Carl Hewitt, joint founder and director of Lakeside-based media and web agency Hewitt Matthews, said: “Lakeside’s buildings are incredible, but it’s the proximity to nature that makes the location really special.  

“Having a lake right on our doorstep, where we often see wildlife, including rabbits and birds, means on stressful days we’ve been able to get out into nature to reset.” 

James Fernandes, managing director of recruitment firm Carrington West, added: “We’ve been and grown at Lakeside for eight years. It is surrounded by pockets of rugged woodland, and the lake is a stone’s throw away. 

“We encourage staff to hold walking meetings around the lake, and to step away from the desk to spend time in nature as part of their working routines to aid mental health and wellbeing.” 

Lakeside North Harbour in Portsmouth
Lakeside North Harbour in Portsmouth

Meeting the need for social connection 

‘Social spaces’ rank within the top five benefits that employees want from office space. Furthermore, research suggests that individuals may benefit specifically from the interaction delivered through office environments. 

This makes perfect sense, as Kelly explains: “When people are looking for office space, they want a destination just as much as a strong environment. People are social animals – office space is important for connection and collaboration with colleagues.” 

At Lakeside, we offer a wide variety of networking opportunities and events to encourage team bonding and support individual wellbeing. These include sessions on mindfulness, opportunities to interact with nature, such as visiting our bee hives and learning more about our bees, and Street Food Thursdays.  

Many businesses and their employees are also looking for opportunities to interact and build relationships outside of their own teams.  

Our community 

Lakeside is home to more than 40 businesses, across a wide variety of sectors including engineering and technology, recruitment, technical services, marketing, automotive and maritime.

Our diverse community includes large corporations - including IBM, Virgin Media, Capita and Markerstudy Broking - SMEs and start-ups. 

Ross Hallifax, Affinity Director at Markerstudy Broking, explained why the business chose our community: “We needed attractive, modern space that would enable us to continue to deliver exceptional customer service and continue to grow. 

“Lakeside’s modern facilities and fast access to a wide range of amenities, including a gym and shops on site, as well as the opportunity to be close to nature, was a major contributing factor in our decision, as we can offer our employees a beautiful environment and unrivalled convenience.” 

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