As agile working becomes more established, the role of the corporate headquarters is changing and the idea of the office as a clubhouse that reflects the corporate brand is gaining traction. Not least is this evidenced in research from CBRE, where every respondent to their global study of September this year believed that an office should be a place where a company reflects its brand and culture and provides space for employees to experience community and social interaction.

At the core of the brand clubhouse concept is membership – that sense of belonging and community. In the words of Work Design, the digital publishing group specialising in workplace trends, the clubhouse ‘enables workers to have a sense of familiarity, identity, ownership, and most importantly, pride.It should also have a positive impact on clients and customers, giving them the sense of being part of something special as well as supported and empowered. The ‘wow’ impact of a great entrance or the perfect private space to meet is all part of the ritual of building relationships and winning business, and this will only become increasingly important in the post-COVID world. Less means more: the less we are present in the physical office, the more important the office becomes as a safe yet experience-led destination.

A clubhouse culture affects staff as much as it does clients and customers, playing a major role in reinforcing employee engagement and retaining talent through the creation of a place that’s a pleasure to be in, with an emphasis on amenities, services and employee experience. Indeed, Facebook employees at Menlo Park in California can expect valet parking, an on-site barber and dental care, dry cleaning services, free meals and snacks throughout the day, and a video game arcade as part of their office life.

While post-COVID these benefits can only be accessible if core needs of safety are met, the mentality behind a human, community-centric and vibrant physical workplace is here to stay, and it starts with knowing what you stand for. At Patagonia, the workplace is not only a place of experience but a place of individual and global transformation – their mission ‘to save our home planet’ is reflected in an office culture that looks after its people in view of their whole life; for example, beyond their surfing policy, all employees have access to on-site child care.

As London enters into Tier 3 this week and the pandemic again readjusts what we can do at home and what we need to do in the office, there is an opportunity to re-evaluate the role of the corporate HQ, recognising the unique contribution that it could make in reinforcing brand culture, attracting talent and generating new business in a post-COVID world.

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