by Jeremy Bernard, CEO, North America, essensys
Technology is essential : As discussions about the future of the office market have brought a renewed focus on tenant needs, smart, automated and connected environments are increasingly dominating the conversation. Owners and operators from DTLA to Midtown Manhattan are recognizing that the competition to lease square-footage is fierce and that occupiers are looking for buildings that are proactive enablers of growth, operations and company culture.
Listening to conversations around the industry, from end users and brokers to owners and investors, I’m seeing three descriptors come up a lot: flexible, seamless and secure. Here’s what people mean and want when they talk about these.
According to research from Verdantix, 60 percent of corporate occupiers plan to leverage flex space as part of their real estate strategy over the next three years, regardless of whether they plan to expand, maintain or shrink their portfolio size—and most are in fact looking to expand. The research also shows that barely half of landlords surveyed (53 percent) are able to offer, or are currently offering, premium turnkey flexible space.
Even before the pandemic, companies were increasingly looking for flex office space, but as with many trends, the past 18 months have accelerated the demand. The flexibility buzzword extends beyond the kinds of spaces tenants want, whether it’s a purpose-built, turnkey office or an activity-based space designed to fit a hybrid work model. Tenants are also looking for shorter or open-ended leases, as well as flexibility at scale and campus-style offerings across multiple floors, buildings and even cities, all of which adapt to needs as companies evolve.
The Verdantix data shows that 70 percent of tenants would pay a 15-25 percent premium for office space that meets their expectations right now, so this is a huge opportunity for owners rather than a burden. These expectations may include multiple office locations, amenities for employees and the ability to work from anywhere confidently and securely. The most important part of this flexibility, according to Verdantix, is that occupiers want to be able to pay only for the space that they are using. Crucially, they are willing to pay more for it.
More specifically, real estate professionals are referring to the frictionless experiences their tenants want to find when accessing their spaces and services. The pandemic has furthered the need for employees to be able to work from home one day, the office the next and somewhere else entirely the day after—and landlords should be looking for ways to make this is as easy as possible for tenants.
This is not necessarily an easy task for landlords, as there is a significant technology component to this. Many of the services that remove friction for end users, such as touchless access, universal Wi-Fi logins and digital security, require a great deal of expertise and server capacity, especially across multiple assets in a portfolio. To deliver this kind of total service piecemeal, owners would have to partner with up to a dozen different vendors—for access control, security, desk booking, space configuration, inventory management and invoicing; the list goes on. Partnering with a technology provider that integrates these services within a single, streamlined platform is essential—removing the hassle of friction from the equation not just for tenants but owners and operators as well.
While frictionless experiences and flexibility are important, security is an integral component to both. Distributed, hybrid working and working from anywhere extends the surface area of a company’s network and footprint. Wherever they are working, employees and their employers need to know that their data is secure.
The Verdantix data shows that 70 percent of occupiers surveyed were unhappy with the data security offered in the flex spaces they have been using. It’s no small task to upgrade data security and infrastructure, especially since landlords understandably aren’t digital experts. When strategizing for comprehensive flex technology platforms, finding one that incorporates cutting edge digital infrastructure that delivers secure and resilient services is key to unlock exceptional in-building experiences for building owners and their occupiers.
As hybrid work models become the norm for more companies, both tenants and their landlords will have to work harder to attract talent and retain it. Employees’ needs are widening in scope: they need to be accommodated and be able to work at any number of locations from any number of laptops or servers while assuming total privacy and security of their data. Landlords that are able to distinguish their brand with technology enabled office experiences will be able to fill their buildings at a much more optimized rate (and at premium fees) than their competitors.
Technology is essential to delivering flexible, seamless, and secure office environments by Jeremy Bernard, CEO, North America, essensys
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