Before the pandemic, companies would try to draw talent by leasing open office spaces with lifestyle amenities like coffee bars and corporate gyms. These pre-COVID trends have been shifting towards technological priorities like faster internet and the latest smart features as landlords aim to lure businesses back to the office.
Working from home has given employees greater flexibility and convenience, which makes on-site services and amenities less of a draw. In order to attract these workers, commercial property owners need to provide them with an experience that can’t be replicated at the kitchen table. In addition to blazing fast internet, these owners are offering features like artificial intelligence systems, voice-activated controls and media centers designed for video calls.
Demand for these kinds of services is pushing up rents in newer office buildings that can support them. Modern office buildings have always commanded higher rents, of course, but the gap between newer and older properties is widening, especially in growing markets. Smart office technology is becoming more of an expectation than a luxury for businesses looking to return to in-person work.
To make matters more difficult, owners of older properties are tasked with providing these amenities on top of a technology infrastructure that has largely remained the same. Over time, wireless connectivity will continue to get worse even as the demands placed on that connectivity increase. Without the broadband and network capacities necessary for utilizing these technologies, owners of older commercial properties will lose out.
That’s why owners should invest in their technology infrastructure now in order to avoid falling behind. It’s no longer enough to provide high-speed wireless internet when businesses are looking for amenities and technical support for the latest technology. While these investments are typically expensive, they will yield a greater return over the long term.
Landlords looking to attract back tenants should look for ways to differentiate their properties not by competing with the remote work experience but by providing services and amenities that cannot be had at home. Properties that showcase the advantages of working at the office, particularly through the latest smart technology, will continue to draw and retain new tenants.