Retain building occupants through office technology

Discover how technology is shaping the future of the office in our industry outlook
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How to Retain Building Occupants for the Modern Office

When thinking about typical commercial real estate tenants, many overlook the small details of their day. From their morning commute coffee to post-work activities such as doctor’s appointments or fitness classes, tenant activities are more ingrained in your building community than you may think. Even actions outside of your building are all part of what can retain building occupants and make a good tenant experience, also known as “TeX.” 

Cultivating this ecosystem is critical for commercial tenant retention. Each tenant activity presents a new opportunity to improve the property experience through technology tailored to the individuals who are in the building every day. To attract and retain building occupants, you’ll need to harness the power of tenant experience by placing relevant technology into the hands of your building population. Additionally, you can leverage that same technology to learn more about your building’s end-users through meaningful data collection, thus empowering your team to provide your tenants with what they really want from a modern workplace.

The Demands of Modern Tenant Retention Strategies

When it comes to figuring out enhancements to your tenant retention strategies, you must first look at the most recent changes to the commercial real estate market (CRE). Due to long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRE value equation has shifted away from the buildings themselves to the people who occupy them. With the assistance of tenant experience technologies, property leaders and teams can seize an opportunity to adopt a consumer-first model and embrace the most recent digital disruptions. By blending the physical and digital workplaces, they can also create engaging and memorable experiences that differentiate their portfolios and tune into their most important assets: their tenants.

Hybrid work models have seen massive growth in order to follow mandatory health and safety protocols. This necessary flexibility in working preferences also means that the workplace and its community have now officially transcended the four walls of the office building. To increase your tenant retention rate, not only do you have to find ways to create great experiences for those who choose to come into the office, but also for those who choose to stay at home or work from some other remote location.

This is why the industry has reached a point where improvements to the physical office environment can no longer enhance the tenant experience on their own — rather, technology is needed to bridge the gap between the physical office and the digital workplace while also connecting dispersed employees in a way that is both engaging and thoughtful. Thus, the best tenant attraction and retention plans incorporate omnichannel office experiences.

Omnichannel office experiences are exactly that: integrated experiences that provide your building occupants with seamless transitions between digital and physical offerings. Signs of a good tenant experience include everything from plugging into your building’s various technology systems to ensure that the building occupant journey is tech-enabled, to increasing your digital programming through virtual amenities that all can partake in, no matter where they are.

Enhancing Tenant Retention and Attraction Through a Platform Approach

In order to achieve omnichannel office experiences, you will need to start looking into — at the very minimum — an office app for tenant engagement. A tenant engagement app will not only ease modern-day concerns revolving around safety, communication, and engagement for your existing tenants, but it will also help you strengthen your workplace culture to help attract new tenants by streamlining your tenant communication strategy.

Another focus area for what makes a good tenant experience is the concept of “flight to quality,” or digitizing one’s building amenities. A 2019 Cushman & Wakefield study revealed that before the COVID-19 pandemic, highly amenitized buildings had an 18.3% rent premium compared to the surrounding submarket. This premium proved even more substantial at 21.6% in the central business districts (CBDs) of gateway markets. Amenities still play a role in overall office culture, and the concept of flight to quality — or digitally enhancing your building’s offerings — can prove to be a major differentiator for your portfolio. This also lends credence to the positive impact that technology can have on cap rates when focused on engaging people and strengthening connections.

Offering digital programming to complement your assets can re-shape antiquated engagement models by bringing your building’s amenities directly to the end-user, as opposed to having tenants seek them out on their own. This not only strengthens workplace culture but also establishes a brand value that extends beyond the office — both of which are especially valuable now since many tenants and employees are not physically in the building.

For many HqO clients, “going digital” has already led to unique and desirable workplace experiences for both current and prospective tenants. Our platform approach to office space software allows clients to customize in-app features to fit their specific needs, creating solutions that highlight their building’s individual communities and personalities. These solutions have spanned from offering virtual fitness classes and hosting building-wide events, to gift raffles that show tenant appreciation, to mobile ordering services that cut down on traffic and congestion in public common areas associated with popular on-site food and retail vendors. 

Not only can such digital programming initiatives provide ways to show tenant appreciation, but they can also establish a sense of workplace normalcy during the rise of hybrid work models. Remember: what you do with your tenants now will create memorable, lasting impressions moving forward.

How to Become a Landlord that Provides Consumer-First Experiences

Modern tenant relations ideas can be a lot to consider, but we’re here to help. In order to ensure that CRE professionals succeed in their changed industry, we’re sharing some tips and tricks to enhance your tenant retention program and establish world-class customer experiences throughout any portfolio:

  • View the Office as an Extension of Your Brand: Valuable experiences at every turn will make tenants feel appreciative of and loyal to your brand. In order to achieve this, you first need to define what a great experience looks like at your asset. The best building experiences don’t happen in isolation. Instead, they consist of all your building’s elements working together in concert, creating an exceptional, holistic impression of the workplace. If you’re able to succeed in cultivating value for each step of your office journey, then even the more negative experiences (such as wait times, long days, etc) will feel less daunting. The other aspect of this is making sure you’re enhancing the tenant experience from the very first moment a tenant interacts with your building. What is their commute like? Their entry? Their overall first impression?
  • Make Steps to Understand Your Core Audience: In order to create the smaller, more meaningful experiences that shape the bigger picture, you need to understand your core audience: your tenants. Learning about and identifying their pain points and preferences will be key to laying the framework for a positive, collective workplace experience. Such insights can lead to fun activities for tenants, property event ideas, and even positive tenant reviews.
  • Consider the Pillars of Tenant Experience: In order to create a truly seamless office, as well as to address evolving tenant needs, you need to know the core pillars of tenant experience and how they work together to generate value. Though building needs vary, and some may leverage solutions in certain areas more than others, we’ve identified eight pillars present in every strong tenant experience program: Accessibility, Entertainment & Education, Food & Beverage, Mobility, Security, Sustainability, Wellness, and Workplace Solutions. Together, these pillars transform any tenant experience strategy into a well-rounded one. For example, activating an on-site cafe with mobile ordering or running a fitness class booking through a tenant engagement app will drive the value and utilization of those investments in a way that the physical spaces alone cannot.
  • Supplement Blockbuster Events with Smaller Activations: Introducing a mix of on-site and digital programming will make it easier to engage tenants wherever they are. Additionally, trends also show a benefit to infrequent offerings throughout the course of a year. Though high-value blockbuster events still hold value — such as work socials and larger, focused gatherings — supplementing those events with smaller activations and events throughout the year leads to increased tenant engagement. More tenants will feel connected and validated, and you won’t even have to seek additional budget to see results.
  • Communicate and Leverage Feedback: It becomes easier to determine a fitting balance of programming and other tenant engagement initiatives when you’re gathering and analyzing real-time feedback. Tenant experience software — such as the HqO platform — can push out surveys as well as use your building’s feature activations as helpful data points. Additionally, this same tenant experience software can be used to let tenants know that they’ve been heard, and about the changes and events going on in your office building. Tenants who feel they have visibility into the initiatives, decisions, and practices of their building’s ownership and management groups will respond more positively than those kept in the dark.
  • Only work with Reliable, Experienced, and Cost-Efficient Vendors: When looking for the right technology partners who can facilitate your events, building processes, and beyond, you need to ask yourself: Does this vendor have experience working with CRE? Are they available to help with the execution of their services? Can they accommodate large portfolios? The quality and reliability of technology partners is essential to saving money, time, and frustration during the procurement and execution processes. Additionally, end-user satisfaction depends on your office technology’s ability to establish frictionless, enjoyable experiences throughout your building — one bad implementation can negatively impact your building’s overall impression.

Tenant attraction and retention comes with many considerations, and they will continue to evolve as the CRE industry grows into its era of digital transformation. To get ahead on strategies that will draw in tenants and keep them happy, schedule a demo of our tenant engagement platform today.

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