CREJ

Page 22 — Property Management Quarterly — July 2021 www.crej.com T he commercial real estate industry is facing a critical turning point, and the time to embrace change is right now. As the world continues to reopen, we know that forever- more people will continue to work from anywhere. In May, a local publication report- ed that, for the past year, Denver’s office market had more space vacated than absorbed, according to a market report from CBRE. At the end of the first quarter, the market- wide vacancy rate was 16.8%, the highest it had been since 2010, and downtown’s rate was 19.7%. A com- ment from Hilary Barnett, a CBRE vice president focused on down- town office space, indicated CBRE was seeing a significant uptick in the market. “Big blocks of space to space set up for smaller tenants is drawing interest as companies pre- pare to return to in-person work, at least in part,” she said. This news is promising and not surprising as COVID-19 cases con- tinue to decrease and vaccination rates increase. Businesses are start- ing to feel more comfortable about having their employees return to work at the office. However, the reality is that many businesses are going to need to remain flexible and offer remote working options that don’t require people to work in the physical office. A recent Gallup poll suggests that 45% of full-time workers in the U.S. continue to work remotely for at least part of their work week. That number climbs to almost 70% among white-collar workers. Further, 30% of people working remotely would prefer to keep working that way as much as possible, even after health restrictions are lifted. Many other surveys show the majority of workers want to continue to have flexible work options. This desire and need for flexibility will result in businesses requiring less space, changing how they utilize their space and, most importantly, their need to focus on the experience they offer employ- ees to support and encourage the return to the office. What does all of this mean for the future of tenant experience? Well, it means that tenant experience is more important than ever – not just for business owners, but also for building operators. Just as business owners recognize the workplace experience they offer their employees is critical to driv- ing engagement, we are seeing a growing commitment from build- ing operators to take on this chal- lenge and consider what their role is in the effort to make the physical workplace safe and highly desirable. The office is the physical heart of an organization, where colleagues come together to collaborate, con- nect and build community. Recog- nizing that people will continue to work from home, as well as spend time in the office, commercial real estate operators need to be thinking about the experience they want to offer their tenants in this new eco- system of working from anywhere. Buildings should strive to be the hub and home base from which all other external workspaces extend out from to become the true center point of an organization’s connec- tion to its employees. If the office is seen as the home base, it is an office building’s responsibility to play a role in helping make the return to work as exciting as it is important. Ten- ants need to be reminded of the many reasons why coming back to the office is critical. Building community, creating connections with colleagues, networking and attending events are just a few of the many benefits of spending time at the office that have been sorely missed over the last year of work- ing remotely and being socially dis- tanced. In particular, buildings should consider developing a communi- cation strategy to help reach and engage tenants in real time, no matter where they are. In response to the safety and security concerns resulting from COVID-19, many buildings have introduced various systems and protocols to ensure the health and well-being of their Cultivate tenant experiences for hybrid workers Tech David Abrams Co-founder & CEO, HILO Buildings should strive to be the hub and home base from which all other external workspaces extend out from to become the true center point of an organization’s con- nection to its employees. Please see Abrams, Page 27

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