As the world of work continues to change, the relationship between commercial landlords and tenants has never been so important.
From shorter, more flexible leases through to more connected and motivational working environments such as co-sharing spaces, tenants’ needs are changing rapidly. To meet these demands and avoid empty offices, commercial developers and landlords will have to forge better working relationships with those occupying their spaces.
We’ve taken this approach for nearly 30 years and experienced the benefits first hand. By building stronger tenant relationships and managing all our properties inhouse, we’ve maintained an occupancy rate averaging 93% across the portfolio.
Delivering high-quality spaces is an important part of this strategy, but this has to be complemented by proactive care, management and investment. That could involve anything from installing more advanced technological infrastructure to improve connectivity, right through to building new buildings that better meet a company’s needs.
For example, we’re currently involved in a project with LGC Standards, a proficiency testing provider. The company moved to one of our sites in 2011 and we delivered a £1.9m design-and-build contract, including a new 19,500 sq ft office, laboratory and warehouse. To help the business expand and stay in the same location, we recently acquired the neighbouring land and secured planning permission on their behalf. The building is now being constructed next to its existing premises at Chamberhall Business Park, providing an additional 13,000 sq ft of space.
Similarly, we worked with waste management company Biffa to secure planning consent and build a new vehicle maintenance and repair workshop as well as office space at an industrial site in St Helens. This enabled the company to improve its regional repair services and working environment for staff.
For office developments and business parks, our facilities teams forge strong relationships with all tenants. We listen to what occupiers want and invest accordingly. Increasingly, this includes providing amenities to improve health and wellbeing such as gyms, showers, secure cycle storage and outdoor seating areas. We also organise events including sports matches and BBQs.
Atlas Business Park near Manchester Airport is just one example. We are currently redeveloping this scheme including an amenity hub comprising a five-a-side football pitch, café, function room and event space plus a nature walk around the park.
As technology advances and the motivations of workers continue to evolve, the future of work may be difficult to predict. However, by developing a more proactive tenant strategy, landlords can stay one step ahead. That may require a shift in mindset or even culture, but the benefits for all parties shouldn’t be underestimated.
Ian Hunter is a director at Property Alliance Group