The concept of going to work has been around as long as there have been jobs to do. Doing work and being at a specific place is often assumed to be one and the same. Yet, in “I’m going to work,” the word work could actually be a noun or a verb. Once the pandemic took the differing place of work out of plausibility, work became a verb you did at home. Now people want to go work at work instead of at the desk in the hallway with the endless soundtrack of children, dogs, and more. It’s not really going back to work but going back to the office.
Before this year, building owners and landlords largely modeled their buildings on conjecture. Building remodeling or amenity and service upgrades were a result of what they thought their tenants would appreciate or to match the offerings of nearby competitive buildings. With no feedback loop of what should be done next, a pervasive idea of more is better continued to run rampant. Costly amenities inflated rental rates whether they were used or collected dust.
After this stint of working remotely, our requests of the office when we actually return have changed. We know what matters most because we have a new respect for what we didn’t have while working at our home’s hallway desk. Sure, catered lunches and free coffee are great, but missing the face-to-face collaboration time with our colleagues has been a leading headline, and the opinion of 80 percent of workers, for months now.
The pandemic has strengthened our connection to work and the office through a digital experience. Our reliance on technology has grown to provide not only productivity but a sense of collaboration and community, previously known perks of being in the same shared space of an office. Simply said we expect to get what we want through digital means and the physical experience of the office needs to complement, or at least support, that.
“Our recent survey showed that 28 percent are already back in the office in some capacity and 29 percent plan to return in Q1 next year. Another 24 percent expected to return after Q1 next year,” explained Mark Rosenthal, CRO at HqO, a tenant experience platform for commercial office buildings. “It’s no longer just nice or interesting to know what people want, but it’s required for tenants to get what they need out of the office. And necessary for them to want to stay.”
It’s no longer just nice or interesting to know what people want, but it’s required for tenants to get what they need out of the office. And necessary for them to want to stay.
Mark Rosenthal, CRO at HqO
Surveys are a tried and true method for getting a pulse on what people actually want and will use for building owners and landlords. The Human Experience report by JLL concentrates on how forward-thinking companies can adjust their approach to workplaces and people after the pandemic. The survey of over 2,000 global office workers revealed that 74 percent were in favor of a four day work week and almost 90 percent considered their colleagues to be a second family. “The rising voice of the tenant is important,” continued Rosenthal. “92 percent of commercial real estate executives are planning to maintain or raise their spend on tenant experience. The alternative to going to the office has been proven and offices need to be more aware of what their tenants, or consumers, want.”
The shifting concentration from what tenants are assumed to want to what tenants actually want can be addressed through tenant experience software. Through HqO’s marketplace, numerous services and solutions are accessible and available at the demand of the tenant. By connecting end solutions with the people who truly want or need them, building owners are saved unnecessary overhead costs while tenants have what they want without the extra bulk.
“The key to a good marketplace is interoperability and a seamless experience,” said Rosenthal. “A retrofit can be like a messy puzzle but if you work with developers from the beginning, it’s a whole different experience that leaves owners and tenants alike satisfied if not impressed.” Starting the journey of a tenant experience app by prioritizing what the tenant wants enables owners and landlords to set proper expectations. Besides, without knowing the challenges a solution is solving for, what’s the point?
The concept that the tenant is right and the guiding light for building improvements whether amenities, processes, or layout rings familiar to those from retail or service-related jobs. Ever heard the mantra “the customer is always right?” This appropriately reflects the shift between buildings and their tenants from a business to business to a business to consumer relationship. The buildings are no longer just where something happens but are active participants in the entire tenant experience. The bridge connecting buildings and their tenants is a digital one.
Earlier this year in an interview about the importance of buildings in creating a happy workplace, Joanna Frank, President and CEO of the Center for Active Design talked about the intersection of physical and psychological perception of safety in a building. Frank said, “A building can be as safe as humanly possible but if it doesn’t successfully communicate it, then the perception may be drastically below its actual performance levels.” This consistent and timely communication can be the fix for building and tenant relationships and made easy through a capable tenant experience solution.
The digital bridge between buildings and their tenants offers a two-way street for communication. While on one hand, it’s a great way to survey what tenants want and start a feedback loop for what’s next, it’s also a great way to keep tenants updated on improvements and focuses within the building. The need for collecting data and communicating updates in real time continues to grow. Those who lack this data will be at a disadvantage while those who have the information will look confidently into next year.
The consumer-driven tenant experience will be discussed in-depth at our next webinar “Creating an End-to-end Tenant Experience” in collaboration with HqO. Joined with expert speakers from hOM, Building Engines and Proxy, registration is now open.