Imagine being able to try your next office on for size by designing how it will look – then walking around it in augmented reality.

Property firm Bruntwood is using tech to bring spaces to life for prospective customers and attract the next generation of businesses.

It recently opened its first AR experience as part of a major refurbishment of its St James’ office workspace on Oxford Road in Manchester. As part of the launch BusinessCloud was invited to walk around the empty office holding up a tablet that showed how the space would look when furnished.

Bruntwood sales director Andrew Butterworth told us about the tech it is looking to incorporate into its spaces.

"Imagine sitting up in bed on a cold Monday morning and setting the temperature in the office to warm up," he said.

“If you forget to switch the lights off at the weekend you’ll be able to check or tech could turn lights off automatically when the daylight is strong.

"It's not about putting tech in the building for the sake of it, but using it in a way that has benefit for customers."

Projects like St James' AR experience help potential customers engage with the space better than if they were only able to view the space in CGI, says Butterworth.

"Customers become more inquisitive and open and can visualise the space more easily - we’ve certainly found using tech makes a difference," he said.

Butterworth says Bruntwood will continue to focus on tech as it grows, believing this forward-thinking approach has helped the property company attract an increasing number of tech businesses, including the likes of Microsoft and MoneySupermarket.

The new wave of companies coming through put more stock in office spaces that work with them to help attract and retain the right talent, he says.

"Companies are becoming more selective about the properties they’re taking and the developer they will have the relationship with," he said.

"We work hard on amenities including wellness, events and being more inclusive of occupiers, engaging them in how the building works and what service charges are spent on."

The AR experience is designed to showcase Bruntwood’s sensitive regeneration of a landmark building into a vibrant, modern and forward thinking home for Manchester’s next generation of businesses.

The experience was designed by Holdens creative agency, who chose AR rather than virtual reality to ensure as many people as possible could experience it at once.

The small Manchester team boasts a full suite of expert services, which means that if a potential customer views the office in AR and wants to see a different layout, the agency could spin it up in a matter of weeks.

"We wanted to show off the different ways the space could be used," said Holdens managing director Ted Holdens, speaking at the event. "Rather than just installing the typical nice office furniture suite and saying ‘look this is how it could be’, we wanted to think differently.

"AR gives us that opportunity in ways other technologies don’t. You walk round and get a real feel for what the space could look like.

"At one point we had a huge amount of greenery in one of the designs and little butterflies flapping round. We want to attract companies that are prepared to think differently about what this space could be."