The 12th Property Directors Forum

The 12th Property Directors Forum 4 Dec 2018

Avison Young hosted PDF12 - the 12th Property Directors Forum - on Thursday 15th November 2018 at the prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House in London’s West End.

The Forum’s focus was on what occupiers ‘really want’ from their spaces and featured insightful presentations from keynote speaker Tim Oldham, Founder & CEO of the Leesman Index and Ben Samuels, Director of Enterprise Business EMEA & APAC at WeWork.

Tim’s presentation concentrated on the Leesman Index’s latest research ‘The Workplace Experience Revolution’, which considers the real drivers of employee sentiment. Based on a survey of 485,000 employees across 500 organisations and 90 countries, the survey is one of the most authoritative pieces of research in this field.

Its findings revealed that only 52.5% of the respondents felt proud of their workplace and only 58.5% of respondents agreed that their workplace supported personal productivity. Clearly many of their employers are not meeting the main drivers of employee sentiment – but what do they have to do to provide their employees with the “right” environment?  

In an age of constant change and improvements, our expectations as individuals have increased and are set by factors outside the office. We want our user experience to be continually enhanced and the workplace is no exception.

As Tim explained, we are in a new era of employee and employer expectations. Yet, from the research’s findings, it is non-tech drivers that continue to be most valued by employees. These “Super drivers” include features such as managing noise levels, availability of informal work area/break out zones, desk-based work, and general tidiness across office and support areas.

This indicates that employees value the gratification of basic human needs such as social interaction and areas to rest and relax over super-efficient technology in their workplaces.

As Tim summarised, for a workplace to provide fulfilment to its occupiers, it needs to encourage productivity, be clean and visually appealing and give its employees a sense of community and overall pride in working there.

Ben’s presentation echoed many of Tim’s sentiments on occupier requirements, highlighting why agile and flexible working spaces are growing so rapidly. WeWork’s spaces focus on four main pillars, technology, events, hospitality and operations for success.

They provide the necessary technology to give each day maximum ease and convenience, opportunities to develop new skills and meet new people, various food and beverage facilities to relax and enjoy, and lastly clean, spacious working spaces tailored to their clients. Through prioritising creativeness and enjoyment in these spaces they enable the various occupiers of these spaces to connect and interact forming a larger community.

One key comment Ben made on flexible working spaces is that demand for them is in part driven by the “War for Talent”. In Ben’s view, “Millennials” joining the workforce want the immersive, participatory experiences at work that Tim previously mentioned.

Therefore it is crucial for employers to consider where the future of work is heading and invest in their spaces if they hope to gain and keep the best talent.

So the take-home messages from the PDF12 discussion are that whilst fast and effective technology is a much valued tool for occupiers, it should not be prioritised over the basic human needs. Significantly, most of the “Super drivers” are easy and relatively low cost to implement.

These themes link back to PDF11…..


“Culture may well eat design for breakfast, if we let it.

Let’s not let it. Better that they had breakfast together”

Neil Usher, PDF11, June 2018


Many thanks to Tim, Ben, and all the attendees for another insightful PDF discussion!

Date for your diary – the next Forum will be held on Thursday 13th June 2019.


For more information regarding the Property Directors Forum please contact Gail Wickes [email protected]