22 Feb 2021

The office is now a destination, not a routine. What's a Landlord to do?

By Ken GianniniBoard Director, MCM Architecture

Every week a new survey is published or a statement from a CEO hits the press related to corporate occupier’s desire to adopt a form of hybrid working for the long-term post Covid 19. And as a result, the desire to occupy less space in their central office hub. This is not however the death of the office and the discussion about the future of work and re-purposing the office for collaboration, mentoring, creative work and the cultural glue for organizations is well documented. Organizations' will need offices.

But what about the landlord? Landlords are asking- What do we do now to attract and keep great occupiers, and fill our buildings?

I have an idea that is of its time. A time when the world has started to cooperate, collaborate, and work towards a common purpose. When work, life, values, and priorities are shifting. Employers are seeking to look after their people in a holistic way in and out of the office.

What if landlords came together with their occupier clients to support lifestyles not just workstyles?

The starting point of this idea is for landlords to ask yourself, who is your customer? No, it’s not the CEO or the CRE Director, but the entire workforce that occupy each and every building in your portfolio. Yes, all the portfolio not just those within a single building.

My suggestion is treating your occupiers as Members not Tenants. Members of your exclusive club. Provide those members with perks and benefits.

For example, access to all the shared landlord provided facilities and events in all the portfolio…the co working spaces, the reception breakout spaces, gym, cycle parking, showers, TED talks and events, the concierge services, etc. Across the whole portfolio not just within their own building. Landlords can provide a variety of benefits and facilities, but not have to do it in every building.

On top of that landlords support your club members lifestyle not just work. Tap into the buying power of that community of members by negotiating discounts or benefits with lifestyle products such as Netflix, Just Eat, Spotify, Uber, cinemas, theatre, health clubs, and etc. all accessed via an app that has all the products, services, locations, perks in one place for the members.

Look at the numbers: in the extreme case both LandSec and British Land have about 6-7million ft2 of office space in London alone, each. That equates to a population of occupiers (members) of around 600,000 members each. That is the population of Bristol! One hell of a buying power community. And this idea will work for smaller landlords as well.

The basic membership is free but special services or products are commercialised via service charge. Say a Gold, Silver and Bronze type of membership.

Imagine the win-win; occupiers win as the CEO that does agree which building to lease can see this as a benefit to all their staff. Landlords build brand loyalty and differentiate themselves. And keep their customers within their portfolio for the long term. Dare to imagine, is this the time for that illusive concept of partnering?

Originally published by Ken Giannini as a LinkedIn article on 21/02/2021 as part of the #BCOvoices blog series.