Feature piece written by HqO
At HqO, we know that even before the pandemic made workplace technology essential, proptech and tenant experience software were already revolutionizing the commercial real estate industry (CRE). There are over 8,000 proptech companies in the market, and 92% of CRE executives are planning to maintain or increase their spending on tenant experience this year alone.
Previously seen as a convenience, digital functionalities that address concerns in the key focus areas of communication, safety, logistics, and health can not only support modern tenants, but also generate immediate and future value by differentiating your assets. The adoption of more touchless experiences — due to new healthy and safety regulations — also means that not only are we currently spending less time in our buildings, but we are spending less time physically interacting with them.
We’ve seen firsthand that the most successful landlords and property teams during office re-entry have acknowledged that tenant experience software has become a necessity. The abilities to communicate with dispersed teams and to collect meaningful data on your building’s end users are now making or breaking the overall tenant experience. When the pandemic first began, we published a cohesive Back-to-Work Kit to help CRE leaders bring their tenants back to work efficiently and safely. Almost eight months into the pandemic, focusing on the four key areas for tenants is more relevant than ever:
Property teams can streamline and disseminate important information to tenants through various technological solutions. These include push notifications to cell phones via mobile apps for emergency notifications and new building protocols. Also under the umbrella of communication lies cleaning management, as clean spaces still remains one of the most prevalent concerns for tenants hesitant about returning to their workplace.
Along a similar vein, safety concerns are still on most tenants’ minds as they consider attending work in-person. Property technology can also help aid a safer return to the workplace for tenants, greatly easing their concerns. Buildings all across the country are implementing touchless technology, such as contactless building access and elevator control. These functionalities, alongside features such as digital visitor management, are extremely valuable. To take a reopening strategy one step further, advanced technologies — such as that of HqO partner Haven Diagnostics — use agent-based modeling in order to simulate realistic interactions and scenarios within a specific building, predicting possible infection patterns and rates of exposure. This technology can help employers mitigate possible infection within their properties by giving them data on what the rate of transmission would be now, as well as solutions to decrease that rate.
Additionally, building technology can help create contactless logistical processes for both property teams and tenants. Office capacity management, for instance, allows property teams to virtually manage and provide visibility on the amount of employees that are coming in and out of a workplace, lending peace of mind to office workers. Similarly, allowing tenants to submit virtual work orders and order-ahead for food options ensures less congestion and safe social distancing practices.
Finally, office buildings should focus on those capabilities that can ease concerns around the area of health and wellness. Providing telehealth healthcare bundles, for instance, can not only make a tenant’s life easier by eliminating their need to go to in-person appointments, but also ensure they have the care they need. Wellness workshops can also be translated virtually, and are an effective way to address mental health concerns during this time. As another health precaution, providing sanitation stations around a property —and making it clear where they are located —also help address these concerns.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted new demands from tenants that require faster innovation and smarter decisions from landlords. Following these evolving new expectations, property technology has become even more of a need-to-have. Now that the commercial real estate market is starting to become digitized, there’s no going back.
By tapping into how tenants really utilize office buildings throughout the day, digital technologies can bring CRE leaders closer to their end users than ever before and help them address specific needs. This type of engagement forms what we refer to as a virtuous feedback loop. When you have intelligence on the end user of your product from multiple sources, you’re able to create a better user experience, which in turn increases customer engagement and continues to provide you with more, better data.
The idea of a more responsive workplace — where there is full transparency from initiation to resolution for any office-related request — will also establish countless learning and communication opportunities for owners. By tapping into new technologies that tell you more about your building and how people use it, CRE leaders can meet their tenants where they are and become closer to their end users than ever before.
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