Workplace events don’t have to cost an arm and a leg to be memorable and impactful. There are many kinds of workplaces with many different budgets. And there's no reason to think you can't create a memorable, exciting community with whatever you have at your disposal.
That's why we spoke to Equiem Customer Success Manager Sophie Shalson, who has accumulated years of tried-and-tested techniques for creating a great workplace experience. Join us as we explore her tips and tricks to help you create a fantastic workplace experience without breaking the bank.
What is workplace experience?
In today's world of commercial real estate, the focus is not just on providing desks for employees to sit at but also on creating a positive workplace experience.
So, what is workplace experience? It's simply a term that encompasses the experience that workers have when they come to an office place every day. Think of it as the workplace equivalent of lifestyle.
Workplace experience encompasses all aspects of the building, including:
- Communal spaces
A great workplace experience is crucial in attracting and retaining tenants. In the competitive world of commercial real estate, landlords and property managers are constantly striving to differentiate their properties.
Crafting a unique workplace experience can set them apart from their competitors.
Sophie, a seasoned Community Manager, notes:
In other words, placemaking has come to the fore. More attention is being paid to events that build workplace communities and ground them within the physical space.
How to improve workplace experience on a budget
Creating a sense of community within the workplace is more important than ever. And workplace events are one of the best ways to achieve this.
But how do you create an event strategy that works for your specific workplace? According to Equiem Community Manager Sophie Shalson, the key is to focus on events that build a sense of community around the asset.
Of course, every site is different, from single multi-level buildings to expansive campuses in regional areas. That's why your event strategy should revolve around the space, budget, and resources you have at hand.
After all, you're building a community for that particular workplace, and it can't be a one-size-fits-all approach. So, keep your goals in mind as you develop your event strategy. There is no budget limitation that would make community building impossible.
Having a clear goal will ensure that your plan keeps you accountable for that particular commitment. With the right event strategy in place, you can improve the workplace experience for your tenants and create a thriving community, regardless of your budget.
Crafting budget-conscious workplace event ideas
Start by thinking about your budget
- Consider how you’ll break down your yearly budget.
- Allocate more money for festive periods and early summer.
- Don’t spend money during periods with less foot traffic. More people means a greater chance of success for your event.
What resources do you have?
- Consider what spaces you have within your building.
- Communal spaces are a great resource that can be used as event venues.
- Approach onsite cafes to see if they’re interested in hosting or supplying your event.
- Use unoccupied offices to host fitness classes.
- Consider any outdoor spaces you could use for your event.
Set a goal and let it guide you
- Think about what you want to achieve and why.
- Choose either a general or a specific goal and stick to it.
- A general goal could be creating buzz around the building. A specific goal could be driving footfall to a newly opened cafe.
What worked in the past?
- Look back at your previous results.
- Check the results of polls you’ve run on your digital workplace experience platform.
How to promote your workplace events
Great workplace event ideas only matter if you get people to show up. And the key to that goal is promotion and communication.
If you have digital workplace experience software, use it to put decisions directly to your community. Surveys and quick polls can be powerful tools.
And once you have a clear picture of what they want, be clear about what you’re going to do and how they can get involved.
Two-way communication isn’t the whole story. You also need an effective plan for promoting your workplace experience. We asked Sophie for some practical tips:
Create a calendar with all the important upcoming events, dates, holidays, and events. Anything worth talking about, map it out on your content calendar. Any excellent digital workplace experience app will have a function to handle this. For instance, Equiem’s CMS allows you to build and schedule content ahead of time.
Get your content ready
Don’t wait until after the event to produce your content. You want people to be excited about what’s coming up. So map out your content, prepare it, and preschedule the newsletters you will use to promote your event.
Use push notifications
Many digital workplace experience apps give you the power to send push notifications to users' phones. These notifications are a great way to gain the traction you want but haven’t achieved.
Where to save on workplace events
It’s easy to get lost in your enthusiasm when planning workplace events. A fun idea can quickly pick up steam. Before you know it, you’ve blasted past your budget.
But don’t worry! If you keep a few best practices in mind, you can throw fun workplace events while keeping your budget under control.
We asked Sophie to tell us some methods she uses to keep workplace events on a budget without sacrificing quality. She gave us a few fool-proof tricks for cost cutting:
Choose your suppliers carefully
External suppliers have pros and cons. On one hand, they can handle a lot of the manpower and effort needed to make an event a success. The trade-off is the bottom line. You’ll have to fork out to partner with big-name external suppliers.
Ask if you could run the event yourself. Imagine you’re running a doughnut giveaway in the lobby. An external supplier could cost you more than thousands of dollars.
Sophie suggests checking in with your local doughnut shop or bakery. And if you have one in the building – even better! Find out how many doughnuts you can order and set up the event yourself.
You’ll end up with an event just as good as an external partner would throw. But for a fraction of the price.
Be smart with your collateral
When you’re putting together your promotional collateral, think about what you could repurpose for future events. If you’re printing vouchers, leave off the specific date. That way, you can use any leftovers for future giveaways.
A little bit of planning will allow you to use collateral multiple times across annual events. And that means big savings!
Low-cost workplace experience doesn’t have to be boring
Just because you aren’t shelling out thousands of dollars for each event doesn’t mean you have to settle for less.
Remember, you’ve likely been investing in your asset for years. That means you can leverage all the great amenities and services you already have to create workplace events that are unique and engaging.
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Find your pre-existing strengths and work with them.
Here are a few ways to use your asset’s strengths to your advantage.
Promote existing initiatives and amenities
What makes your site special? Do you have an indoor garden of native herbs or a rooftop beehive? The suppliers who run these installations are usually more than happy to run talks for tenants.
But don’t think you need a rooftop hive to put an event like this together. Even if you just have some impressive green space, you can get your landscapers to run nature walks and talks with your tenants. Just think creatively about the resources you have at your disposal.
Retailer popups and events
Go chat with local businesses and organisations. Plenty of them will jump at the exposure of being connected with your tenants. They’ll happily help you supply lobby events, give away free samples, and host workshops with your tenants.
Leverage the relationships you already have. For instance, you can ask the supplier of a flower popup if they’d be willing to give you a free bouquet every quarter. You can use those bouquets as incentives for further events.
Highlight public events on your apps
If you have workplace experience software, use it to your advantage. Promoting events in the area won’t cost you a thing. But that doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to your users.
Keep an eye out for exciting retail offers, cultural events, and food festivals. You can promote these on your app for free while enticing your tenants to spend more time in the office.
Consider digital campaigns
Digital campaigns can be very cost effective. But the right type of campaign will still appeal to your workplace.
You could run a series of community interviews that highlight interesting or high-profile building community members. Or host competitions with small prizes like a week’s coffee subscription to your onsite cafe.
Budget workplace event ideas from Equiem
Sophie has run dozens and dozens of workplace events for Equiem clients. And she’s accumulated a lot of wisdom in the process. We asked her for examples of standout events she’s put together on a shoestring budget.
DIY ice cream giveaway
In early 2023, one of Sophie’s clients wanted to run an ice cream giveaway. They considered working with an external supplier, but it would have cost £1,000. They didn’t have the budget.
So they decided to run it themselves. They purchased the ice cream they needed directly, ordered a mini fridge for storage, and had their existing staff man the giveaway. In the end, they hosted the event they’d imagined for a fraction of the price.
Community quiz master
This client was starting a lunchtime trivia session. They looked into local quizmasters but balked at the price. Instead, their Community Manager went out and bought a big book of pub quizzes for £10.
For that paltry sum and a few tea and biscuit sets as prizes, the client was able to make their programme a hit with their tenants.
This Community Manager wanted to celebrate World Bee Day. She looked into purchasing pouches of seed blends designed to encourage pollinators. But when she spoke to the supplier, they quoted her £600!
She took matters into her own hands. She ordered the same seeds separately, then bought pouches herself. She even had enough budget to buy stickers replete with the building’s branding.
All told, it came to about £60 and only took about an hour to make them all up. She saved a massive £540 by managing the giveaway herself.
Workplace events need creativity more than cash
If there’s one major takeaway, it’s this. A programme of exciting, engaging workplace events doesn’t have to cost big bucks.
Workplace experience is about grounding your building’s community in the space they share every day. There is no substitute for thoughtful planning, enthusiastic promotion, and events that put your asset’s existing strengths in the spotlight.
Community isn’t about money. It’s about connection. All you need to do is harness the passion, energy, and talent within your asset.