Enabling space-as-a-service through tech
For many in the real estate world, whether renters or landlords, space-as-a-service is the new normal. For co-working companies, flex space operators, and even businesses involved in non-office property, like co-living firms, the value proposition is now about a bundle of services and not just the provision of some combination of rooms for a set period of time. Today, community and amenities are perhaps as important as the physical space itself.
While the businesses that offer space-as-a-service by and large provide an incredible value, the fact is that the model represents a much more complicated management proposal than other forms of leasing, simply because it involves so many additional elements (extra services, the management of additional physical amenities, greater maintenance responsibilities, etc).
That’s where tech comes in. Modern tech platforms allow for efficiencies and advantages that can offer huge benefits to traditional landlords, sure, but truly make or break space-as-a-service providers. Here are a few of the ways technology can be most impactful in ensuring success with these spaces.
1. Accurately target amenities and perks
One of the great assets of a tech-enabled building (or portfolio) is the ability to properly choose and target services and amenities based on occupant preferences and feedback.
With so many individual amenity choices out there, ranging from traditional options like a coffee stand or rec room to design considerations like focus pods, greenery, and art, all the way to high-tech solutions like movable walls and VR stations, actually deciding what to invest in can be challenging. Many of these amenities are relatively new, leaving little objective evidence of what would be the best “bang for the buck.''
Tech can change that. Things like tenant experience platforms can offer a vital window into the thoughts and input of building occupants, allowing preferences and sentiment to be measured and analyzed. Amenities are seldom cheap; investing in the right ones makes a big difference not only on a financial statement but also in attracting more tenants to begin with.
2. Improve ease of communication
Of course, there’s a lot more to the tenant management side of space-as-a-service than just understanding what they want. Open communication is also critical, but sometimes email and phone isn’t enough. Another plus of tenant improvement apps is their impact on dialogue, both between landlord and tenant, and tenants themselves. This is particularly important under the space-as-a-service model, where different occupants often value the social aspect of the space highly, even if community isn't a stated goal.
3. Automate the building
As new and unique as space-as-a-service is, the physical space offered for use is still the core of the offering. It goes without saying, then, that the use of that physical space must be as pain-free as possible for tenants, and as efficient to manage as possible for ownership.
Tech can reduce a significant amount of the property management workload, particularly IoT systems that leverage sensor networks and cameras to collect data, and then deliver programmed responses through networked smart devices. The benefits of these systems can help not only property managers but tenants too. A recent study found that smart lights increased productivity by 20 percent.
4. Pick up on hard-to-detect challenges
The benefit of all this better communication and sensor equipment is that property owners who embrace technology will find not only their day-to-day jobs easier, but their ability to pick up on hard-to-find problems increased as well. A leaky faucet that never floods but wastes water could be missed by maintenance staff, but a moisture sensor would immediately recognize it. Similarly, tenants may never vocalize an issue they’re having with another worker sharing the same space, but an anonymous feedback option on a tenant experience platform would quickly identify the stressor.
5. Integrate with the surrounding world
Tech’s impacts don’t stop at the walls of the office or apartment. A critical component of a highly-competitive rental space is integration with the surrounding world, and tech can be a vital component there as well. I frequently mention opportunities for space providers to build relationships with local businesses and neighborhoods, or set up local events or rewards plans through tenant experience platforms, but the opportunities go beyond just that.
Location and mobility is a critical component for establishing quality in competitive markets. To that end, TransitScreen is a provider of digital displays which, when located in the lobby of a building, can help guests and tenants identify and catch the right public transit options.
These are just a handful of the numerous ways in which tech can impact space-as-a-service operations, and they don’t even touch on use cases in acquisition, development and disposition. Not every implementation will apply to every situation, and managers shouldn’t feel the need to force circles into squares just for the sake of it. But tech can increase profit margins while reducing effort expended, and for that reason a thorough consideration is worthwhile regardless of property type.
Read about the future of office amenities in our article here.
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