Workman has long offered a vibrant events programme for occupiers at Birmingham Business Park, from big screenings and cycling races, to mindfulness and yoga sessions. In the current unprecedented situation, they acted quickly to refocus the social calendar to continue connecting with customers. Working with suppliers and occupiers, they moved activities online wherever possible and found new ways to support the wider local community.
Promoting wellbeing and sustainability through events and amenities
Helping occupiers attract and engage talent
Contributing to 96.5% occupancy rate – the Park’s highest for 20 years
Birmingham Business Park is set in 148 acres of mature parkland. It is home to over 150 companies and around 10,000 people normally work there each weekday. The Park is managed by Workman LLP.
Four years ago, Workman launched an occupier engagement programme. This was led by the Park Development Manager, Liz Allister, inspired by the amount of green space and lakes available for people to enjoy. The Park’s strapline – Invested in You – is at the core of the offer.
There are normally events on the Park every weekday, giving occupiers the chance to enjoy activities over a lunchtime or after work. Regular weekly activities include yoga, pilates and mindfulness for wellbeing, along with food events such as Foodie Fridays and Meat Free Mondays. Other opportunities include mini massages, beauty therapy and art workshops. Twice a year, the Park hosts dedicated sustainability weeks, offering free activities such as pond dipping and biodiversity walks. Occupiers can also take part in ‘meet the beekeeper’ sessions, where they spend time with the person who cares for the Park’s two beehives. These produce around 60 jars of honey annually, with all proceeds donated to the Park’s charity of the year, currently Age UK Solihull.
The Park is also home to a community cycling club, which leads twice weekly bike rides during spring and summer for all levels of cyclists, along with free bike maintenance service twice a year for occupiers. Other cycling events on the Park include race days, which attract hundreds of cyclists, from novices through to national standard riders. All the funds from this year’s races, which the team is hoping to run later in the year, will go to Age UK Solihull, which is providing important support to elderly local residents, including food supplies and telephone befriending.
Other popular events for occupiers on the Park include big screenings of Wimbledon and an annual movie event, where occupiers can enjoy free ice creams or other refreshments. Up to 2,500 people attend Wimbledon screenings each weekday, with up to 1,000 people at a time watching the tennis and connecting with colleagues. Amenities include outdoor table tennis tables, giant Jenga and Connect Four games, shared bikes, deckchairs and six allotment beds. The community allotment club includes occupiers Arval and Canon, and charity partner Age UK Solihull.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, the Park team and suppliers acted quickly to move activities online, including weekly yoga workshops, mindfulness sessions and regular Tai Chi classes. They also stepped up communications, so that occupiers continue to feel supported and engaged. This included a special digital edition of the Park magazine in May 2020, sharing the COVID-19 response by Birmingham Business Park occupiers.
In addition, the Park team re-routed support for their annual charity partner, Age UK Solihull, encouraging occupiers to provide fundraising and volunteering support, along with food donations. Over 180 chocolate eggs were donated in the run up to Easter. Lorraine Hart of Age UK Solihull commented: “Times are challenging to say the least at the moment, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable, so to give them a little cheer at Easter and for them to know that people are thinking of them, is absolutely wonderful.” The team is hoping to reschedule several postponed fundraising events for later in the year.
The events programme and facilities are funded through the Park’s marketing budget. Many of the events are free or low cost to run, such as food events that offer local suppliers the chance to reach a new market. The highest cost items are the big screenings as the screen needs to be hired and complimentary food funded.
External recognition includes:
Gold Green Apple Award 2019 – for bi-annual Sustainability Weeks
Silver CSR-Accreditation 2019 – for social responsibility work, including annual charity of the year partnership
Gold Green Apple Award 2018 – for Community Cycling Club
How to build a successful occupier engagement programme?
The programme has built up organically over four years, with the Park team testing a range of activities and then programming the most popular events on a more regular basis. For instance, their first big screening of Wimbledon was incredibly well attended, so it is now an annual event and has now been extended to include an annual movie event as well. Artisan and street food events are also extremely popular, often with vouchers offering discounts and free tasters. When the Park team installed an outdoor table tennis table, it was well used, so the next year they added another, and then the following year they introduced giant Jenga and Connect Four. These outdoor amenities open up opportunities for inter-occupier tournaments. The Park Development Manager meets with every occupier individually twice a year to discuss all aspects of life on the Park, including events and amenities. Their feedback influences the events calendar for the coming year. It is challenging to keep the programme fresh and interesting but good relationships with occupiers and with local food and wellbeing suppliers mean new ideas keep coming. For instance, the active cycling community on the Park inspired the road races, cycling challenges and free bike maintenance sessions.
How to drive participation and raise awareness of occupier engagement programmes?
In addition to occupier meetings, the Park team generates excitement around upcoming events through regular communications. These include monthly event flyers and emails, spring and autumn magazines, and posters displayed on bus stops and throughout the Park. The team is also active on social media, including LinkedIn and Twitter, and offers prizes for photos on social media, which drives the marketing of the Park. Occupiers often tweet photos of themselves enjoying Park events and using the table tennis tables and other amenities. They also share photos featuring items they have received at events, which are branded Birmingham Business Park and encourage sustainable behaviours, such as reusable coffee cups, reusable water bottles and reusable tote bags. In the current situation, occupiers are sharing photos of themselves working from home, contributing to the sense of connection during this time of physical distancing.
Barrie Street, B2B Marketing Manager at Canon UK, Birmingham Business Park occupier
“We value the amenities and engaging activities available that contribute to the wellbeing of people who work on the Park. A successful initiative our staff took advantage of was the allotment beds launched in May last year, which provide a fantastic opportunity for our staff to get outdoors, connect with nature and enjoy the company of others. More recently, during unprecedented times, it’s been great to see how the team has moved activities online wherever possible and continues to keep people connected.”