A few generations ago, commercial real estate was all about "location, location, location". No one was paying attention to energy efficiency, high-speed connectivity, or advanced building systems. And commercial landlords certainly weren’t investing in social meeting areas, bicycle storage and repair facilities, and high-tech automation systems.
But a lot has changed in the past decade. Now, tenants are considering a lot more than just a building’s price and location. They’re looking to lease space somewhere unique that’s able to help their business thrive: by attracting top-notch employees and clients, and infrastructure that can support and even enhance their businesses.
For owners and property managers, failing to keep up with trends and technology can be a costly mistake. That’s because today’s commercial office spaces are more than just buildings – they’re complex, tech-powered structures that need to be flexible enough to meet the needs of a wide range of different tenants.
Figuring out how to attract high-quality tenants can be tough, but here are the four big trends that we’re currently seeing in commercial real estate that can help:
1. Improved Efficiency Through Building Automation
You don’t have to look any further than building automation to see that today’s commercial office structures are more than just brick and mortar. In smart buildings, a centralized automation system controls a variety of crucial systems including HVAC, lighting, and security.
With an automation system in place, buildings are able to improve efficiency, reduce resource consumption, and minimize monthly costs – and they’re easy to use too: managers can access their automation systems from anywhere to see real-time information and make adjustments.
2. Residential Amenities in the Commercial Market
Even though office sizes are shrinking, tenants are still willing to pay a premium for top-notch properties. In response, many commercial landlords are upping the ante by offering residential-style luxury amenities – things like rooftop lounges, free high-speed common-area wi-fi, touchscreen thermostats, Bluetooth door locks, and smartphone-controlled lighting.
“Americans work more hours than do people in any other country. We are always striving for that right life balance. We are looking for that more enriched lifestyle. Employers want an engaged and productive workforce,” said Bob Pfefferle, director for global real estate firm Hines, owners and managers of several Wired Certified properties including 1251 Avenue of the Americas in New York and the all-wood T3 in Minneapolis. “People are looking to work in innovative office spaces that do offer amenities that you’d typically associate with residential.”
3. High-Tech Property Marketing
While many commercial property owners are still struggling to get their buildings’ up-to-date information online, forward-thinking landlords and property managers are using cutting-edge technology to create a fully interactive 3D tour experience for prospective tenants.
NYC-based Floored is a leader in 3D modeling for commercial real estate, using state-of-the-art equipment and their proprietary rendering engine to completely map out available office spaces in just a few hours. The end result is a nearly-photoreal quality model that can be fully explored and customized for each tenant’s needs.
4. Mobile Broadband and High-Speed Internet
Bandwidth in an office is as vital as electricity. If the lights are on, but you can’t exchange information with anybody outside the office, why even bother coming in? Today, nearly all businesses rely on high-speed internet access for their day-to-day operations, whether it’s for web research, SaaS tools, or communication like email and videoconferencing. And what's more, these days, the workforce is mobile, making wireless connectivity more important than ever. Distributed Antenna Systems, which amplify cell phone and mobile broadband signals, are helping office workers stay connected while they're on the move within buildings, and WiFi in common areas like lobbies and cafeterias is slowly becoming the norm. And as bandwidth needs increase, ultra-fast Internet connectivity is evolving from an often-overlooked amenity to a critical make-or-break priority.
By keeping up with the changes in how tenants use their space and the features they expect to come with it, proactive owners are trailblazing in the industry. To stay competitive in today’s office market, landlords have to look beyond the basics and understand precisely what tenants want from their buildings. And while location is still important, it’s no longer everything.