Business Parks Turn 'Super Parks' for Greater Work Life Balance
When searching for an office, your choice of location will usually be top of your priority list - and we're not just talking about your choice of town or city.
Certain industries prefer central business districts, which is reflected in the 'urban tendency' of many organisations like banking and insurance firms. However this doesn't suit every business. For instance, sales employees who spend a lot of time on the road generally don't appreciate city locations with congestion and limited parking.
This is one reason why business parks have been flourishing in the UK of late. A report by Bilfinger GVA, released in Autumn 2015, has found impressive take-up for business parks.
It cites a total of 2.3 million sq ft of take-up in UK business parks during the first half of 2015, which was 6% above the five-year six-monthly average.
Furthermore, a report by JLL released in September 2014, 'Business Parks - rising to the challenge', suggests that occupier demand for business parks "has held up well", stating that they remain an attractive solution for businesses looking outside of congested town and city centres.
As part of their appeal, JLL cites large, flexible floor plates and lower average occupancy costs as a major plus point for business park occupiers. For UBCUK, which operates more than half of its serviced office centres in business parks, this is a major draw for corporate firms looking for greater flexibility and expansion potential in managed office agreements.
Of course business park offices aren't just for large corporate firms. For instance, UBC's business centres at Ancells Business Park near Fleet and Cirencester Office Park start with single serviced offices right up to entire floors for dozens of employees. Both locations are on the fringes of the town centre with excellent amenities and good accessibility.
They also enjoy a pleasant environment; Cirencester Office Park is located in the Cotswolds while Ancells Business Park is a short walk from Fleet Pond - a local nature reserve with well-maintained walking trails.
Having amenities like this on your doorstep have become an important part of business, given the modern emphasis on work/life balance.
As such, business parks - such as Birchwood (Warrington) and Birmingham Business Park - fit well into this ethos. These examples in particular are home to cafes, restaurants, mature parkland and walks - not to mention close proximity to major road networks, which makes getting out at rush hour considerably easier.
One significant development that could align further with the work/life balance trend, as noted by JLL, is the concept of 'place making'. This focuses on creating a sense of place that would essentially bring work and leisure closer together.
JLL notes an increase in business parks being "reworked" to incorporate residential and mixed-use elements, such as new homes, retail and leisure facilities along with greater 'walkability' between amenities - much like a town centre.
The report suggests that Birmingham Business Park - home to UBC's newest business centre - could be in line for more mixed-use elements.
Sebastian O'Kelly, writing for Property Week in October 2015, thinks this trend is set to accelerate. Sebastian describes 'super parks' as "thriving centres... set in immaculate grounds and enjoying an abundance of communal and recreational facilities."
He refers to Birchwood Park as one of the more successful business parks in the UK, thanks largely to its extremely well connected location close to the M6 and M62 and its vast array of facilities. Not just business facilities, but leisure amenities too - including cafes, restaurants, accessible transport, health and wellbeing centres, a crèche, and a pleasant environment.
So, while the success of a business park relies largely on business facilities and aesthetics, its ability to provide comfortable and productivity-enhancing conveniences for staff is also a major factor. Could we start to see more of these 'super parks' across the UK? It's entirely possible, and your UBC office could soon be within walking distance of shops and restaurants - much like a town centre.
Find out more by taking a closer look at our serviced offices in business parks in Birchwood, Daresbury, Birmingham Airport, Birmingham Business Park, Cirencester, and Fleet.