Want Happy Office Tenants? There's An App For That
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As robust as amenities packages have become — with offerings including yoga classes, wall climbing and dog day care — at least one study shows that business owners and employees still do not have access to one thing they want: a connection to the landlord.
In March, app creator HqO surveyed 303 U.S. office workers in gateway markets including San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York, Miami and Washington, D.C. The survey found that platforms such as WeWork have created a very competitive landscape for traditional landlords.
“WeWork has created an office ‘cool factor’ that tenants recognize and desire, making landlords more responsible for creating a brand that will attract the best tenants,” the company stated in the survey results. “The problem? Most tenants don't even know who their landlord is, nor do they ever interact with them.”
A CBRE Americas Occupier survey found that 59% of real estate executives are planning to incorporate mobile apps in order to enhance the employee experience.
“Employee-centric apps, centered on improving workplace experiences, hold the promise of connecting owners and employees with more positive sentiment activities, like food ordering and wellness activities. That’s a win for both sides," CBRE 360’s chief product officer, Brian Harrington, said.
Because most tenants do not pay much attention to elevator flyers or handouts, according to the survey, landlords are partnering with PropTech startups and launching their own platforms so tenants and employees can stay connected and have direct access to building operators should they have concerns, need to gain access to a building or want to find out what amenities and events are accessible to them.
Below are but a handful of workspace platforms and apps on the market:
CBRE 360 is an app that helps property investors and occupiers connect regarding property services and amenities. Employees using the apps can pre-order daily coffee pickup, access information about nearby news and events, reserve meeting spaces and report lightbulb outages. The apps also deliver customized concierge services, where employees can schedule fitness classes, order meals and make reservations to attend in-building or nearby events.
“In order for this relationship to work, this new category of apps need to answer three questions for employees in a positive way: Did it make my work life more convenient? Did it make my work life more fulfilling? Did it make me more successful today?’ If the answer to any of these questions is no, technology adoption will be challenging,” Harrington said.
The Convene app, created by Thomson Reuters, is a platform that streamlines conference planning. The app can help set up any event, from festivals to single-track meetings to multi-track conferences. Users can add information for attendees, such as session details, speaker biographies, FAQs, sponsor information and venue maps. Event planners can also create live polls and surveys for attendees.
Boston-based tenant-landlord engagement platform HqO allows tenants to use their phones to access a building or garage, get traffic and mass transit information, get onto or monitor a shuttle, visitor registration and more. Tenants can also claim food and drink promotions and RSVP for events. HqO can also help landlords to procure amenities.
“Modern workers and businesses of all ages, industries and sizes expect more from their landlords in terms of services, experience and amenities, and these ‘connected tenants’ expect a tech-enabled UX in the workplace,” HqO CEO and co-founder Chase Garbarino said.
As the technology, advertising, media and information sector continues to expand, landlords need to adapt to enable these businesses to compete for talent, he said.
“This is what will help them win longer leases, retain these customers and ultimately help their businesses succeed," Garbarino said.
Tishman Speyer announced last month its Zo platform and app will be available at Tishman Speyer buildings in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Amenities packaged in the platform include emergency day care, wellness, pet care, ride-sharing, refuel service and flower and food delivery to companies of all sizes.
“Our focus is on the people who spend a large part of their day in our buildings. These offerings help create an inspired, innovative and differentiated workplace that enhances employee wellness and happiness and in turn increases productivity,” Tishman Speyer Senior Managing Director Michael Spies said in a statement announcing the project’s launch. “We want people to love working in Tishman Speyer buildings and we thereby create value for all within.”
Founded in 2014, hOM offers a tech-enabled solution for community management in residential and commercial buildings, including group fitness and event planning via an API platform and web app. The company works with real estate companies in New York City, New Jersey and Toronto. With this app, users have access to programs and events occurring in and around the building, with the ability to browse and RSVP. They can also book one-on-one services direct to their apartment or office.
“The power of live community programming is in incentivizing tenant engagement, with the aim to gather essential data on what a community values,” hOM co-founder and CEO Francesca Loftus said. “While our technology is a tool to communicate in-building programs in the most convenient way for users, the reverse is also true. Our technology’s ability to funnel tenancy insights to landlords begins with engagement of users through live on-site programming.”
CORRECTION, APRIL 13, 12:49 P.M. ET: A previous version of this story conflated two different Convene apps and thus misattributed a quote. It has been updated.