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A holistic approach to office leasing is now more important than ever, and agents must drive change

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The terms experience, hospitality, customer are more often associated with the retail and leisure sectors than the office. However, for an office agent to provide the best service and ensure happy tenants and proactive landlords, now more than ever these words should be front and centre of daily vocabulary. Occupiers should become ‘customers’ and the relationships between agent, landlord and customer driven by understanding and delivering on the customer’s needs. 

Being a landlord can no longer mean minimal asset management, there must now be a more ongoing symbiotic relationship between landlord and their customer. As part of this, an agent can be a key component of the whole process, using their understanding of the tenant’s needs to help inform the landlord on decisions and asset management. This is alongside providing a full spectrum of advice to occupiers throughout their tenancies, from lease re-gears to reconfiguring floorplates. 

Great Portland Estates has had a strong positive response to its latest scheme at 16 Dufour’s Place. Having launched only a couple of months ago, the property is its first ‘managed’ offering with a café, an outdoor terrace and additional shared breakout space. The demand for this new type of asset speaks for itself and out of six upper floors, three are already under offer with significant interest in the remaining. 

Creating experiences

This is crucial when it comes to large, multi-let assets where a mix of office tenants will be complemented with ground floor retail or leisure space. Landlords should be looking at how this space can be let in a way that reflects the changed lifestyles of many. This could be by bringing in dog groomers, gym and wellness operators or childcare facilities to create a building that adds value to someone’s working day, a service that will actively help the customers within.

Hospitality and experience are two concepts that can’t be delivered from the home office and will be central in creating an office that people will want to come back to. Attracting people back to the office will be an important undertaking over the coming months. The traditional view of ‘good’ office space as being decked out with plants and pool tables needs to change. 

Fora have been at the forefront of creating spaces that deliver a product built around hospitality and wellness. Launched in 2016 it now has 12 centres with another two due to open this year. The two founders, Katrina Larkin who was the founder of The Big Chill Festival and Enrico Sanna was the former Chairman to the Cosmopolitan Hotel, bringing with them a wealth of hospitality experience and knowledge. All the Fora centres have cafes and, depending on scale, some have restaurants, gyms, meditation rooms, libraries and the ability to host wellbeing events. 

Sick of making breakfast, lunch and dinner for a year, the UK workforce are going to value facilities such as cafes, coffee bars and on-site benefits such as loyalty rewards and discounts. People will now have higher expectations from their workplace, after all – why bother commuting if the facilities are no better than at home? Agents have a crucial role to play in acting as a channel between landlord and tenant to communicate changing needs, coming up with innovative solutions and creating an office space that is futureproof and works for all. 

Now isn’t the time for the industry to rest on its laurels as it waits for the office market to recover, instead it is more pertinent than ever that we spend this time speaking to clients and understanding just what customers want from their office space, particularly after a year spent at home.

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About the author

Peter Mather is part of the London occupier advisory team working with tenants to develop a property strategy based around their business objectives.

To get in touch contact Peter.Mather@colliers.com


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Peter Mather

Associate Director

Landlord & Occupier Advisory

London - West End

With over a decade of experience in commercial property, Peter has worked across a variety of different areas. Joining Colliers in May 2018, he works within in the London offices occupier advisory team, developing new business opportunities helping tenants to identify and develop a property strategy built around their wider business objectives.

In addition, Peter advises clients who are looking for shorter term, flexible leases, through procuring serviced offices and co-working space. From start-ups to established corporate clients, he is well placed to provide real estate solutions that meet the short and long term goals.

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