During 2020, many commercial office buildings faced an unexpected challenge: empty offices. The pandemic created a sudden shift to remote working, which will likely continue even after vaccines become more widely available. Businesses of all types are reevaluating their use of office space, and as a result, the relationships between commercial landlords and tenants are more important than ever.
While the pandemic will eventually abate, its impact on tenants’ comfort levels could last years. So, what can commercial property managers and building operators do to create trust and make tenants feel comfortable in an office again?
Build tenant relationships with space planning, communications and visitor management
Commercial landlords and tenants have negotiated many uncommon things over the past year, including lease concessions related to COVID-19 and multiple options for rent deferment or abatement. The relationships built over the course of those conversations will hopefully open the door for more collaboration on an effective return-to-work strategy.
1. Space management practices
Even before the pandemic, space planning and occupant comfort were becoming an important part of portfolio management. The increasing need for flexibility is top of mind for landlords, since tenants are rethinking their use of space. In some cases, employees may become spread across a distributed hub-and-spoke model in which a company has a central office in the city but offers employees the option to work from a satellite office in the suburbs.
Here are a few space planning questions to ask your tenants to find out how much flexibility they require:
- Will employees be working part-time or flexible hours?
- Will you be rethinking your space to accommodate social distancing?
- What percentage of your workforce will continue to work remotely? How are you assigning and tracking assets?
- Will portions of your office space be temporary or hotelling space?
Effective space management software can help optimize your use of space and leverage it as part of your lease management strategy.
2. Tenant communications
Landlords can proactively communicate with tenants to increase their comfort level in the office space. Sending messages about HVAC updates, cleaning protocols and other activities lets your tenants know that you are concerned for their wellbeing and are taking steps to protect the property. MRI Tenant Communications software can help you proactively communicate with tenants and keep them engaged to measure the effectiveness of your actions.
3. Visitor management
It’s essential to understand the capacity of your space and to manage the number of people on your property at a given time. Visitor management software for commercial office buildings can help you manage tenants and guests across multiple control points to get an accurate picture of activity in your space.
Flexibility is key
As the past year has demonstrated, commercial property managers need to be prepared for anything. Using technology to better understand space planning, communicate with tenants, and manage visitors can improve tenant satisfaction and help building operations run more smoothly. As the office space will also need to welcome back vendors and visitors down the line, learn how to mitigate risk as more people come back into the office.