Listening and Learning

September 21, 2023
News & Insights
As a landmark building and centrally located, The Blade is one of the most desirable business addresses in the Thames Valley. We’re proud custodians of the building and love the rich and diverse range of companies that call it home. But it’s not something we take for granted. Earning and maintaining a top spot in a highly competitive market takes work and the people best placed to determine whether we’re still pushing all the right buttons are our occupiers. So, we’re pleased to share the first insights from our 2023 occupier survey.

Why run an occupier survey?

Whilst we speak to and interact with our occupiers on a daily basis, an annual survey provides an opportunity to formally record their views and help us develop an action plan focussed on continuous improvement of the building and its amenities. It also allows us to ask some of the more functional questions that don’t always pop up in day-to-day communications. These may link to the regulatory expectations of the property owner or, as we explored this time round, certifications such as BREEAM. We’re in the process of applying for BREEAM certification for The Blade and so there were some specific questions within the survey that gave us good pointers to form part of our submission.

The survey was wide ranging and went to all occupiers, to ensure we received a broad view and to reflect the diverse needs and expectations of businesses of varying sizes and sectors. So, in addition to questions about temperature, facilities and location, we also asked about sustainability, what first attracted them to the space/building and of course what they thought about Northwood Investors as the building owner and manager.

What did the survey tell us?


·        Satisfactionwith Northwood as the property owner/manager – 100% Good or Excellent

·        Recommendationof Northwood as the property owner/manager – 100% would recommend Northwood

·        Biggest attraction of The Blade? – Location and iconic status

·        Space requirement – 83% expect to require the same space in 12 months time whilst16.7% expect to require additional space

Did the survey identify room for improvement?

As we’d hoped the survey gave us some great feedback about what more we could do. We know, from anecdotal feedback, that maintaining the building at temperature which is comfortable for a few hundred individuals simultaneously, is hard. The building is a unique shape and is surrounded by other structures of varying sizes. Its external skin is also made entirely of glass and different aspects and floors will be in direct sunlight, full shade, be entirely exposed or hidden in the shadow of another building – all at the same time! It’s a careful balancing act and the survey pointed out that most of the time we get it right, but sometimes we need to work harder to find that balance.

Because The Blade is home to many different sized organisations, their individual aims and aspirations also came into play – particularly around their Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) and Corporate Social Responsibility. For instance, one occupier is keen to achieve their own zero carbon footprint so is reliant on us as their ‘landlord’ to ensure we are doing all we can reduce, reuse and recycle and also limit our own carbon footprint. Our roles here are symbiotic. The key takeaways are that we need to do more to separate the waste from the building and look at making more use of solutions such as energy efficient lighting with auto-off settings triggered after shorter periods of inactivity.

Next Steps

The responses we received to the survey are extremely valuable, representing the views of half of our currently let space and more than half of our occupiers. We feel this response rate provides a solid foundation upon which to make decisions, draw conclusions and plan future enhancements. We’re working through the response sin detail and where necessary will respond directly and individually to occupiers seeking specific actions. More generally, the survey will form the basis of the next round of enhancements and investment, as well as underpinning our BREEAM certification application. Needless to say, we’ll also share our progress with occupiers and keep on listening and learning!

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