Accessibility – the key to accessing a wider pool of tenants 

Kevin Wither, head of landlord at Peldon Rose 

To attract and retain the most diverse pool of potential tenants, landlords and property developers need to keep a variety of design aspects in mind. When successfully providing a commercial space that is truly accessible, the specific needs and requirements of end-users need to be at the forefront of design and planning. Providing a space that can be effectively used by everyone should be a top priority and the requirements of end-users should ultimately guide the development and design of the workplace.

The commercial perspective

In an often volatile and increasingly competitive property market, commercial landlords are undoubtedly considering the ways in which they can develop and strengthen their competitive edge and how a range of tenants can be targeted and attracted. Going back to basics, when commercial spaces aren’t deemed fit for use by a group of businesses, the pool of potential tenants becomes significantly smaller.

The commercial impact isn’t restricted to that building in isolation either. This may also be detrimental to the development of a well-established property portfolio, has the potential to adversely impact rapport with tenants both returning and new, and make it harder to establish a reputation as a forward-thinking, inclusive property owner.

From an employer’s point of view, when individual requirements aren’t catered to, the talent pool can be similarly reduced. By not providing a space for employees with a variety of needs and abilities, teams may be missing out on the benefits unlocked by having a truly diverse workforce. With so much at stake, the onus is now on employers to ensure that they’re operating from a workplace that can be enjoyed by all employees and where individual requirements are fully met.

Customisation is key

Although providing a commercial space that is tailored to all can initially seem like a complex task for landlords and property developers, there are some simple measures that can be introduced to take the first step.

Providing adjustable settings across the building, like lighting features, enables end-users to tailor lighting to their specific needs within a space at any given time. For tenants, areas can be made brighter for periods when collaboration is needed; alternatively, lighting can be dimmed or made softer for more relaxed periods of rest or recreation throughout the working day. Importantly, lighting can be overstimulating to some end-users, and it’s crucial that this can be adjusted as and when is needed.

Other features can support a sensory experience throughout the space. For example, the installation of air ventilation – that could be used to either mask, or produce, certain smells – and sound acoustics to regulate noise across a space are also key to providing a more customisable space for tenants. The five senses can play a huge role in how we use, interact, and behave within a space and this principle is no different when it comes to workplace design. Crucially, ensuring that a space is truly customisable for tenants is a key step in the provision of a space that can be used by all.

Establishing a space that is physically accessible to all, irrespective of its intended purpose or use, should continue to be an integral part of commercial design today. To guarantee this, landlords and those involved, even from the initial design process, ought to consider the needs of all potential occupants and the specific requirements they might have. Innovative, design-friendly assistance equipment is readily available to designers and landlords and providing this is an all-important way of guaranteeing that all individuals can access and enjoy a space.

As well as customisation, landlords should also ensure physical accessibility throughout a space, to establish a commercial property that is suitable for all. From assistance equipment including height-adjustable or automated office features, such as doors or lifts, to the provision of physically accessible outdoor space, there are a number of design features that help to ensure that all tenants, irrespective of mobility, can enjoy and use the workspace. Removing physical barriers with the use of flexible furniture or fixtures is a simple measure in which a workplace can be made to be more inclusive and accessible.

Key takeaways

Providing a truly accessible space for tenants is important. There are a range of commercial opportunities for both landlords and employers to unlock through the introduction of an accessible workplace, and with the availability of today’s design wisdom and resources, spaces that can be used by all are within easy reach.