Last month, in partnership with the Commercial Observer, HqO hosted the webinar ‘Unleashing the Power of Employee Experience as the Ultimate Competitive Edge’. The discussion featured insights from moderator Jess Johnson, Global Head of Enterprise Partnerships with HqO, along with Ilene Goldfine, Senior VP and Chief Digital Strategy Officer for Hines, and Sabrina Pagani, Senior Managing Director of Workplace at Savills.
Topic #1: Current State of CRE
The conversation began by addressing the current state of the corporate real estate market. Jess set the stage with a sobering perspective, stating, “We have $1.5 trillion worth of commercial mortgages coming up in the next three years. We have had the most rapid rise in interest rates in the history of the United States, and that’s true across central banks globally as well. And office foot traffic is about 50% of what it was pre-pandemic, and it’s sort of stalled out there. So any outsider might be looking at this and say, it looks like a brutal environment.”
Ilene then offered a perspective of optimism, noting that “Collectively, I think the real estate industry will come through this in a better place than they were before.” She emphasized, “The question is how long that’s going to take. But I’m hopeful that the real estate industry coalesces about how to do things differently, focusing on experience [in ways that] haven’t been looked at as holistically in the past.”
Sabrina supported this optimism by sharing recent research showing a surge in tenant demand in several cities. “Tenant demand is up from the last quarter in several cities, which is exciting.” She added, “In Boston, leasing bounced back after its slowest rate in 10 years. Orange County, which we all were worried about, is showing a 23% increase in leasing activity. DC is showing a sharp uptick in the government sector, and in Dallas, there’s a demand for quality buildings that remains strong.”
Topic #2: Space & Employee Experience
The discussion then shifted to the dynamic between space and employee experience. Sabrina highlighted that occupiers are increasingly opting for the “flight to quality,” favoring well-located, premium buildings. She emphasized, “They’re looking for things that are super convenient for them so they can have their private lives — one of the top demands we’re seeing is convenience and commute. So big cities near commuting hubs are still doing really well.”
Illene noted that Hines is investing significantly in digital tools to enhance the digital and physical experiences of its tenants. “We have a very strong belief that good, quality offices attract tenants.” She added, “It’s space to do something else. It’s still about the work, but people are being really thoughtful about why they are coming back in.” Ilene emphasized the reasons behind these investments and how Hines sees the balance between saving costs and investing in superior workplace experiences.
Topic #3: Technology & Data
Data and technology are driving significant change in the corporate real estate landscape. As such, Hines recently introduced a digital ecosystem, powered by HqO, to transform their real estate experience. This new platform makes it easier for tenants and their employees to access buildings, amenities and experiences while generating more in-depth insights about building utilization and client satisfaction. The panelists discussed the impact of this technology on occupiers and the role it plays in enhancing the overall experience.
Topic #4: Prioritizing People
Throughout the conversation, a central theme emerged – the paramount importance of prioritizing people in real estate. The relationship between physical space and organizational culture holds immense potential in creating vibrant workplaces and enhancing our cities. Both llene and Sabrina emphasized the need for companies to proactively create dynamic workspaces that focus on employee experience. Ilene highlighted the commitments made by companies to treat people well, while Sabrina underscored the “importance of flexibility and culture in creating exceptional workplaces”.
It was at this time Jess touched on HqO’s REX Platform – an asset-agnostic, cross-property suite of powerful applications and services that foster best-in-class, dynamic end-user experiences. The platform, which officially launched last month, assesses the health and performance of a customer’s experience within a physical space, while providing the necessary tools for operators to manage and optimize it, all from one central location.
Want to learn more?
In an era of unprecedented change and challenges, the power of real estate experience is emerging as the ultimate competitive edge in CRE. The insights shared by Ilene, Sabrina and Jess offer a glimpse into the future of the industry, where technology, data, space, and, most importantly, people, play pivotal roles. As companies adapt to new ways of working and the expectations of their employees, the path to success is becoming clearer. The future of corporate real estate is being shaped by those who prioritize experience, invest in technology, and understand the delicate balance between space and culture. In these transformative times, the key to thriving in the corporate real estate landscape is to focus on enhancing the holistic experience of the people who inhabit these spaces.
To learn more about how HqO can help you build an industry-leading real estate experience, speak to one of our experts today.