Anybody in commercial office real estate who expects things to go back to “normal” is – no way around it – f****d. (Kindly overlook my potty mouth – I’m a Brit).
What companies need from their office now is drastically different from what existed pre-pandemic. The new realization is that the workplace, as we have known it, is now as dead as a doornail.
The new normal is a hybrid model – in which people work from home part of the time and come into the office for collaboration and connection the rest of the time.
This requires more flexibility from both employees and employers, while landlords must adjust their offerings because this new way of working is here to stay. Those who are unwilling to adapt and keep their heads in the sand will be left behind because wishful thinking is not a strategy.
So what’s the new reality?
That there are far more efficient and cost-effective ways to work than the traditional office model.
Businesses simply don’t need as much office space as they used to. Companies are opting for small, more efficient spaces that can accommodate a variable number of daily users.
And what does this mean for landlords?
As a landlord of commercial office real estate, you are in direct competition with all the many conveniences offered at home. That’s why you need to create spaces that give people things their homes simply can’t.
More than just a place to conduct business, your clients want a destination that offers them and their employees a unique, positive experience. They want an environment that feels safe and welcoming, that enables human connections and meaningful collaboration. They want a space that’s centered around the end-user and delivers greater flexibility, greater convenience and enhanced employee wellness.
Amenities, then, are no longer optional. “Nice-to-haves” are now essential “Must-haves.”
That’s because people are increasingly looking for convenience and comfort in their lives. They want places that are easy to get to and offer them things they need without having to go out of their way. That’s why businesses like Amazon and Walmart are so wildly popular.
As a commercial real estate owner, you need to take heed of that and step up your game. You need to create spaces that people actually want to inhabit – not just spaces that are mainly functional.
The Office as a 5-star Hotel
I believe offices should be like “Hotels for Businesses” with first-class hospitality, superb amenities and the latest technologies being core to their offerings.
That’s because, along with a well-designed space, tenants want to be treated like guests and to have the technologies and amenities that make their work day joyful and efficient.
Buildings that fail to provide such features will watch helplessly as their tenants flock to other properties.
This shift is a fundamental change.
Whereas offices were once seen as merely functional spaces, they must become more like hospitality venues, with the primary goal of providing enjoyable and memorable experiences for tenants.
To create this new kind of office environment, simply putting in a coffee bar or ping-pong table won’t do. Hospitality is all about catering to, even anticipating, the large and small needs of your tenants. This includes but is not limited to:
- Making sure that they have food and coffee whenever they want it.
- Taking care of all their technical support issues.
- Providing meeting rooms are satisfy their requirements.
Office workers can even be given a specially designed app, compliments of the building, that enables them to build a community, interact with guests, foster security and make the overall workday more enjoyable.
The building must be a desired location that enables staff to work better and more successfully. Not only will this attract occupancy but it will also generate more ancillary income for the building.
As a landlord, you need to decide what kind of Hotel brand your building wants to be. Is it going to be efficient, simple and functional like a Holiday Inn? Or will you strive to be a Four Seasons office building, complete with concierge facilities and high-end design? Remember: your tenants must now be treated like guests!
We’ve been down this road many, many times.
At Village Workspaces, we have always described ourselves as a Hotel service-front of house. Instead of providing rooms back-of-house, we have offices. Indeed, our facility is managed more akin a 5-star hotel than a traditional office.
As a result, Village Workspaces can point to a long history of hosting some of today’s most successful companies. Shopify, Soundcloud, Pinterest among many others.
Companies that chose the Village talk about the overall work experience, how it’s helped them perform with greater enjoyment and sense of satisfaction. They recognize our service as being clearly superior to that provided by their own hub corporate offices.
The billions of dollars earned by our tenants, whether by designing cars here or creating feature films, are testament to the productivity facilitated by the working environment we’ve created.
This new approach should not just be the remit of flexible coworking spaces. It must also be part of the core offering that all buildings should provide their tenants. Mark my words that anything less will be at your peril, while following this exciting new course will, most assuredly, be at your profit.