Nuveen is one of the largest investment managers in the world, with over 85 years of real estate experience and a portfolio spanning across the globe. To get a better sense of the strategies they implement to attract and engage tenants, we sat down with Alexa Verma, Community Manager at Four Oaks Place, a Nuveen property located in Houston, Texas.
It’s wonderful to meet you, Alexa! To kick things off, can you tell us a little bit about your experience in commercial real estate?
I started at Four Oaks Place as its Community Manager in August 2021. However, my background is actually in Sports Management and Events. Switching industries was overwhelming and exciting all at the same time! Currently, my event experience has translated well to my new role and prepared me for the large tenant base that we have at Four Oaks Place. Commercial real estate (CRE) actually has opened some doors for me creatively, as I can plan a variety of events that interest our tenants rather than sticking to one specific category. I’ve truly loved my role here — I feel like I get to bring extra “fun and joy” to the workplace for our tenants!
That’s wonderful! As a Community Manager, it’s your job to stay connected with your tenants and ensure a positive workplace environment. What is Nuveen’s vision for their workplace properties, and how do you help execute on that vision?
Nuveen sets the bar high and strives for only the best for their tenants. They have a great team creating a positive culture that puts the tenant and their needs first. It’s a great path to follow, and helps me plan programs and amenities that will make our campus one that each employee wants to come to every day. Nuveen focuses heavily on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts as well, which has been an even greater influence for our buildings. We center our programming and events around bringing our tenants together and providing different ways to make our environment and surrounding community a better place. We’ve found our tenants want that sort of connection to their workplace.
Can you tell me a little more about Four Oaks Place, and some of the strategies your team has implemented to support your tenants?
Four Oaks Place consists of five premium office buildings that make up 2.3 million square feet of prime office space in the Uptown District of Houston, Texas. With such a large multi-tenant campus, our team does our best to connect directly to each tenant to make them feel like this is a second home. We want to build a sense of community among our buildings.
We plan one to two tenant events or programs per week to bring our tenants together and provide a safe, enjoyable atmosphere. We also utilize many online platforms to reach our tenants and keep them informed of campus happenings. Our [HqO powered] building app is a favored resource for event details, property amenities, digital programming, and tenant guidelines. We also use an online work order system which allows our Engineering Department to respond promptly to our tenants’ needs.
Have your strategies changed over the course of the pandemic? Why or why not?
As we move forward from the beginning of the pandemic, we now see many tenants back in office and looking for a workplace that offers engagement and programs for their employees. We have significantly increased our in-person events within the last year. Although, we do recognize that many employees are still on hybrid schedules. So, we target our higher attended days for in-person events and still offer a variety of digital programs for those working from home. We try to offer the best of both worlds.
As you mentioned, flexible spaces and hybrid work are two of the largest trends to come out of the past year. How are you equipping Four Oaks to support those trends?
We understand the flexibility in schedules that our tenants provide for their employees. We utilize our building app to keep all tenants engaged and connected to Four Oaks Place. On the app, we make sure to offer content that spans from community offers, virtual fitness classes, and digital giveaways to in-person event details, property amenity information, and in-person wellness programs.
In your own words, what role does technology play in tenant engagement, attraction, and retention?
Technology is very important at the tenant level! It’s our way to connect to so many people in our buildings, especially in a timely and consistent manner. We strive for face-to-face contact to build relationships, but we know everyone has a busy work day and it’s not realistic to depend solely on in-person connections with our large campus. Tenant engagement comes in many forms, and so we use technology to loop in all aspects of our programs.
What is your favorite feature/aspect of your workplace experience app? Why?
I love being able to upload content easily and see how it resonates with our building customers. Each program or event lives within its own button, which allows users to click into that page to read the content. I can then track how many clicks or RSVPs we have so I know what interests our tenants most. My goal is to cater events to our tenants, and this data helps supplement the direct feedback I receive from tenants.
To wrap things up, where do you see the future of the workplace heading?
It’s exciting to think about what the future holds, given that the last few years have already broadened our understanding of what the workplace can potentially become. I think it’s wise to stay flexible and adaptable to all circumstances, and to understand what is important to our tenants and their employees. Once we know the goals for their ideal workplace experience, we can adjust our plans to create the best experience possible for our tenants. Continued activation on our property will keep our tenants engaged and the communication open, which allows us to proactively see where workplace needs are heading. Overall, a sense of community will always be a leading need for a positive workplace environment, and we’ll continue to create that for our tenants at Four Oaks.