Going to work today should look a little something like this. The night before, you open an app to see which coworkers will also be in the office that day and to book the desk where you want to sit. In the morning, after tapping your badge in the lobby, you go and pick up your coffee order placed last night too. It’s ready and waiting for you. Once you’re at your desk, you remember to register the client you’re meeting as a visitor so that they can get into the building. You’re in luck – that the conference room with the best view is available for your meeting, so you book it.
Each one of these actions gives landlords and workplace leaders a hint about how people structure their workdays now. From which desks and meeting spaces they prefer if they’ve signed up for onsite fitness classes, these interactions can all be captured and used to get people back in the office on a regular basis. Ultimately, that’s what will ensure revenue and valuations don’t suffer because of underutilized buildings and unhappy tenants. Instead of investors, landlords, and property managers working separately to increase time in the office, they could be collaborating and sharing data with each other to figure out what experiences make the commute worth doing.
“There are more than 8,000 proptech companies out there today. Our job is creating one tech stack that helps you understand everything that’s happening in the building in one place, not only for property managers but for real estate investors and owners too,” said Andrew Mezheritskiy, Senior Director within JLL’s Technology Advisory.
One of the first changes that Mezheritskiy recommends is picking a single app for people to use in the building rather than two. Typically, people are forced to have one app for the building to register visitors and complain that their office is too hot or cold, and another app specific to their company for navigating their workplace (connecting to printers, booking conference rooms, etc.).
Those two types of applications are morphing into one thanks to HqO, which is removing the wall between the tenant and the employee experience. Mezheritskiy explains, “HqO connects people with the building itself, plus their corporate workplace in one place. People can book conference rooms, order food, communicate with their team outside of email, and focus on benefits that are a priority for a company’s culture, all without having to switch applications or remember which does what.”
Ultimately this data can help real estate owners and investors make better decisions about which capital improvements will have the biggest impact on keeping existing tenants, attracting new ones, and hitting overall revenue targets. Why change overall office layouts or invest in new amenities if they aren’t what people in the building actually want? Instead of just copying what other nearby buildings are doing or guessing what people’s new expectations of the office are, analytics from apps like HqO give investors and asset managers data to ground their capital investments. These analytics can be as simple as tracking which days or times are most popular for programming and amenity usage via RSVPs and reservations in a tenant experience platform.
This data can also identify any correlations between amenities and programming to spikes in daily occupancy for the entire building and for an individual tenant. The inverse is also true. Property managers can identify at-risk tenants that have office space sitting mostly unused because their employees aren’t being enticed back to the building and, most importantly, create a play for protecting that revenue.
In addition, understanding space utilization thanks to bookings and deployed sensors enables property managers and workplace leaders alike to tweak new space designs and offerings based on actual usage. Instead of relying on preferences shared in survey feedback alone, beacons throughout a building tell decision-makers exactly which seating configurations are preferred and which conference rooms are most popular.
“People say one thing in the survey and then do the exact opposite,” highlighted Kevin Anderson, Senior Vice President of Sales for Flex by JLL. “Relying on this information alone to justify real estate decisions – typically a company’s biggest line item behind your people – means your strategy will inevitably be rooted in the speculation, rather than the facts of how people are using the space today.”
This closer collaboration depends on a new level of sharing not only between the property manager and the tenant but also between buildings in a portfolio. Assuming that asset management teams have enough time to do this on their own isn’t realistic. Instead, the portfolio’s shared technology stack should know which buildings are similar in a given portfolio. Then, the stack can aggregate performance data and automatically share learning about what programming, space designs, and other offerings are positively impacting occupancy, tenant satisfaction, and net operating income.
HqO, for example, gives asset owners and property managers visibility across their portfolios to see which types of tenants – size, industry, even demographics of employees – are accessing the building the most, using amenities, and attending programming. That information helps leasing teams target their marketing and business activities to like tenants, reducing the time and cost to win over a prospect and increasing the likelihood of gaining long-term, happy tenants.
Perhaps technology’s most significant impact on existing tenants is removing points of friction during their work days. Even the lobby experience is getting an upgrade with convenience in mind. Apps like HqO and access control system Swiftconnect let people enter the building with their phones–no security badge required. Mezheritskiy explains, “People don’t have to stop by a security desk if it’s their first time working at that office. They can go from building to building and, if they have access, use their phone to walk through the turnstile. It’s all about convenience and speed.”
For some, this may seem like technology overkill, but that lobby experience is the first impression for people returning to the office, many of whom didn’t work at their company before the start of the pandemic. Eliminating that anxiety about accessing the building is one less barrier to getting people back to the office. By making it easy for everyone to do things like book a conference room, check in visitors, and make service requests, occupants can have more power over their workplace, and building teams have better insights into how to create commute-worthy experiences.