Property Managers’ Time to Shine
Property managers should take an active role in attracting tenants’ employees back to the office.
I was slow to return to the office last year. It was a change in mindset and lifestyle. I’d gotten used to the short commute, the flexibility, the reduced weight on my shoulder from not schlepping my workbag on public transportation.
But there were things I missed, and only some of them were business related. In-person interaction with my colleagues is invaluable. Water-cooler conversations with people from other parts of our business are beneficial. The ability to meet face-to-face with visiting industry members is critical. But you know what else I missed? Our beautiful office, which we’d only moved into a year before COVID hit New York City. Our local lunch places. And building events, like Ice Cream Day or Bagel Day. It may sound silly, to commute an hour and a half for ice cream, but there’s something special about those events, even if you just collect your cone and take it upstairs to the office. It gets you interested. Now I’m going in twice a week.
Some buildings have even more unique offerings. We’re an Empire State Realty Trust tenant, but if I were officed in the Empire State Building itself or a few of the real estate owner’s other buildings, I could attend an annual honey event and benefit from the property’s beehives. Free, fresh, local honey is an unusual, attractive perk that also promotes sustainability!
And while there can only be so many building events in a year, never mind in a month, those property owners that offer ongoing perks—such as classes in the fitness center or a lobby barista or discounts at local retail outlets or restaurants—incentivize office occupants to go in to the office, as well, as Gabriel Frank discusses in his feature, “Property Management Success: New Formulas for the New Office.” So, too, do buildings with more pragmatic but really attractive business amenities such as conference centers with high-quality videoconferencing.
But offering such amenities is only part of the benefit property managers can provide. As Frank notes, office tenants striving to strike a balance between business requirements and employee preferences really need help communicating everything the building has to offer. The more property managers can provide easy-to-forward announcements to facility and office managers—or better yet, communicate directly to all their employees, maybe through an app—the more aware everyone will be of the perks, and the easier they will find them to use (think links for sign-ups and discounts).
It’s property managers’ time to shine, and the more visibility, enthusiasm and creativity exhibited, the better. But that doesn’t mean every plan has to be elaborate. Hey, I’ll go in for an ice cream cone.