No two ways about it, the competitive environment has changed. An imposing new contender has swiftly entered the arena with swagger and clout that was unimaginable just a few short months ago. The challenger – remote working – is hardly new to the game. But when the pandemic began, the robust meeting solution technologies that were already widely accessible became ubiquitous requisites, and they were pressure-tested daily by the necessities of business survival during the public health crisis.
If there was ever a stigma attached to working at home before COVID-19, there is much less so today as businesses begin their phased return to the workplace. Even when the pandemic is completely in the rearview mirror, there will surely be a greater acceptance of choice for tenants and their teams to decide from where they wish to work on any given day – from home, the office, or from anywhere reliable connectivity is available. We, of course, want that choice to be regularly and most often at our buildings.
The allure of remote working for many tenants is undeniable. Home workspaces require no time or expense for commuting and put workers in greater control of their own environment. Commercial real estate, in many ways, is competing against the remote experience just like sports teams and stadiums have over the years. To counter the competitive pressures of the at-home experience – watching live sports broadcasts on increasingly larger, better, and less expensive high-definition screens – sports stadiums and arenas strive to add value to the customer experience. With every new stadium opening, video screens continue to get larger and the content presented on them increasingly resembles the quality of the at-home experience. There is a new focus on customer-service training for stadium workers, the provision of additional and more varied environments for fan entertainment and hospitality, the enhancement and diversification of convenient food and beverage offerings, and the improvement of physical and technical infrastructure like seating and connectivity. Creating a convenient, comfortable, and compelling environment in which to enjoy a game is central to the stadium experience design strategy. Increasingly, however, sports team owners are recognizing that the game day fan journey does not begin or end at their front gate, but is rather an immersive, driveway-to-driveway experience that lasts all day long.
So it is, too, for commercial real estate owners and operators. Savvy landlords continually up their game by investing in physical, aesthetic, service, and technological improvements (like the HqO operating system, for instance), and on enhancing the quality of every touchpoint of the tenant’s journey that is under their control and under their roof, from the moment they hit the property until they depart at the end of the day. The journey, however, does not begin and end at the property line, and a tenant’s greatest pain points may be encountered well beyond your doors – like the length and comfort of their commute, the availability, cost, and reliability of transit options, even the convenience of fitness facilities and where they like to buy their morning coffee.
The workday is an entire suite of unfolding experiences from driveway to driveway, and the relationship between workplace and tenant, like the relationship between tenant end users and their companies, is not restricted just to office hours. When a tenant considers the quality, convenience, and anticipation of coming to your buildings, they are thinking about the whole experiential package, driveway to driveway.
Our objective in the COVID-19 world is to build greater demand for returning to the office to compete with the at-home experience, and to convert our tenants into fans of our building. Fandom, or brand loyalty if you prefer, is based on understanding and delivering on our customer’s varied interests and needs. This strategic underpinning combines a series of relevant, friction-free digital and live service and content options optimized for use while at the building, as well as acknowledging and addressing the pain points our tenants frequently encounter during the whole of their workday.
Driving tenant loyalty requires the kind of engaged, two-way relationship that shifts the relationship from transactional to attitudinally transformational. A 2018 HqO study noted that more than two-thirds (69%) of tenant end users “have never interacted with their landlord or property manager.” The time is ripe to change that dynamic. When we do, we will begin developing and nurturing the strong connections with our tenants that will build more demand for returning to the office, unlocking the incredible value those longer-lasting relationships can bring.
Frank Supovitz, an award-winning experience designer, producer, event organizer, and author, has played a leading role in the success of such world-class properties as the Super Bowl, the Indy 500, and the South Street Seaport in New York City. A respected global thought-leader in sports, entertainment, and facilities management, he brings more than three decades of expertise to the HqO Team as a senior consultant for Tenant Experience. Contact HqO to put our Tenant Experience team to work for you.