Five ways office property managers are differentiating buildings in the new hybrid workplace
By Bob Assoian, Executive Managing Director, Hiffman National
The reports of office obsolescence have been greatly exaggerated. Office assets are not dead. They just need to be modified to be successful in this new era of the “hybrid workplace.” Those who do not adjust will continue to struggle as leases expire over the next several years.
In this competitive environment, a property must have Class-A management to stand out and, ultimately, deliver an experience that justifies the commute for tenants and cost for owners. Below are five ways property management companies can create exceptional office properties:
1. Recommend capital projects that support leasing and retention. Newly constructed or renovated buildings have always been desirable, but that’s especially true now as employers look to maximize the value of time spent in the office. Building owners relying on outdated common areas and amenities are seeing many tenants flee for modern quality assets.
A good property management firm can help owners determine the best capital improvements to compete with nearby properties, whether that’s updating the lobby and creating new tenant lounges areas; adding amenities like fitness centers, cafes and outdoor lounges; building out spec suites; or dividing formerly single-tenant floors into multi-tenant spaces that are more affordable for smaller occupiers. At Hiffman National, we leverage our vast vendor network to obtain volume discounts and complete projects in a timely and cost-effective manner, despite supply-chain disruption and other challenges.
2. Prioritize occupant health and wellness. One of many trends accelerated by the pandemic has been growing demand for buildings that promote the health and wellness of occupants. A recent Harvard study of offices in six countries found that poor air quality can significantly impair cognitive functions, lowering worker productivity. Moreover, in a survey of 2,364 office workers conducted by Gensler last winter, 80% of respondents said an indoor air filtration system would help them feel comfortable going back to the office after the pandemic.
Our team has been helping owners and occupiers modify or upgrade their HVAC systems to make them more efficient and give returning workers peace of mind. These improvements have also helped us secure certifications such as the WELL Health-Safety Rating, an evidence-based, third-party designation awarded to buildings that meet a range of health-safety requirements. For those clients not wanting to invest in “official” WELL ratings, our staff have been able to upgrade filters, modify outside air intake and adjust operating procedures to improve health and wellness for tenants at a lower cost.
3. Identify and develop more green space. Access to outdoor workspaces and other open-air amenities such as picnic areas and walking trails is increasingly important to office employees. We have helped owners carve out more green space and figure out how best to activate it through offerings such as Divvy bikes, outdoor gathering spaces for tenant meetings and fun events such as food truck days, ice cream socials and summer BBQs.
4. Provide hospitality-like services and programming. Today, commercial property management is much like hospitality management. We work closely with our tenants to support networking events and other activities to get more employees to come to the office. As with adding green space, these activities differentiate the property in the market and provide experiences that workers wouldn’t get at their own home.
5. Think like an owner. The best property managers treat each building as if it was their own. They ask themselves how they can satisfy tenants while delivering the most value for the owner; they build relationships with occupiers and work to ensure their ongoing satisfaction; they take care of critical maintenance and repairs; and they keep properties cash-flowing. More than once, we’ve been brought in to take over a beautiful Class A building that’s been terribly mismanaged, with tenants who are unhappy because they can’t get anyone to listen to them. Their potential departures can be a death knell for properties in the current landscape. Exceptional service is key in all buildings, especially today.
In unpredictable times, effective property managers understand how to provide the service, stability and environment that pandemic-weary workers seek. By recognizing that for many employees, the preferred office may be at home, managers can partner with landlords and tenants to create welcoming environments differentiated through in-person experiences that will keep workers coming back for more.
Find the published version at REjournals