The value of outsourcing in property has long been a bone of contention. Is it value for money or a one way street to lower values as contracts are inevitably squeezed for every last dollar?
Now according to new research from CBRE, there is evidence to say the value of outsourcing can go far deeper than dollars and it’s reaching into concierge services for tenants that make their commitment to a building compelling.
CBRE national director of Asset Services Suzette Lamont says sophisticated owners are increasingly looking to outsourcing to help them offer tenants better workplace environments.
And the company’s head of research, Australia, Stephen McNabb says that while outsourcing was expected to generate savings of around 10 to 20 per cent, owners now recognise that it can help tenants attract and retain workers – and that in turn helps attract and retain tenants.
“Our recent occupier and Millennial research showed that, beyond a pure focus on cost savings, occupiers’ agendas are being driven by the interaction of real estate with human resources and financial objectives,” McNabb says. By this he means services such as childcare and health and well-being facilities, which are seen as equally if not, more important than cost savings alone.
These are also the factors that drive employee retention, attraction and productivity and they also promote higher levels of collaboration and add to a building’s amenity, he says.
Lamont says ensuring mental health and wellbeing is also a big factor.
The company’s sustainability group works closely with clients to implement the WELL Buildings standard, for instance, and she notes there are more and more carbon dioxide readers being installed in occupied spaces under management.
The “really clever landlords”, she says, are creating teams that can help connect tenants and create a sense of community in their building.
Whereas in the past the tenant-landlord relationship was a “set and forget” one based on the business transaction, now it’s all about the customer.
“That’s a trend we’ve seen in every other industry for decades,” she says.
“We’re helping landlords see who their customer really is.”
It’s not just about signing leases.
Instead, in the “race to gain and retain quality talent in Australia” savvy building owners are recognising that the value of their asset is tied up in the people that work within it, not simply the “bricks and mortar.”
“Property is about people.” And it’s also about working out how to make buildings places where people can work better and more productively, she says.
In one event in a premium building social enterprise Orange Sky Laundry teamed with the landlord to invite homeless people to use the building’s end-of-trip facilities for a shower, haircut and health check and to get their laundry done.
Lamont says the workers in the building were encouraged to come down and share a cuppa and have a meaningful conversation with the visitors.
Sustainability and energy-efficiency are also still gaining momentum as outsourced services. There is a growing use of dashboards to check energy consumption and this is a technology that can “pay for itself”.
“It is not just a great environmental decision, it can be a great business decision as well.”
Besides at the top end of town 5 Star Green Star is now “the new normal”, and it’s the “basic hygiene level people expect.”
The next step is how to give workers their weekends back
The next step in customer experience is finding ways to “give workers their weekends back”, Lamont says.
That means providing the services that “alleviate the merging between home and work” and make it easier for them to do the “second shift”.
A concierge service to book the kids school holiday camp or collect the dry cleaning
That can mean a concierge service that will do tasks like book children into a school holiday camp or organise the collection of dry-cleaning. All those little jobs that then mean the worker can spend more time with their families.
In the B and C grade sector there is also the emergence of the “virtual concierge” via a website, or a portal and most of Australia’s landlords “are looking very seriously at it,” Lamont says.
Lamont says that the focus on “transforming lives” in the workplace is at the point sustainability and energy-efficiency was a decade ago – it’s a trend that will keep on escalating.