Some would say that I may have had too much time on my hands when I sat down over a period of 12 months to deconstruct and examine the commercial leasing industry in a determined effort to find a better way of doing things.
While the current situation has served the sector for a great many years, it can be likened to some degree to the evolution (or rather, lack thereof) of sharks. It simply hasn’t evolved enough and has mainly survived through brute strength and sustained due to necessity.
Our industry talks of efficiency and innovation and outcomes ad nauseum.
But whether you’re a building owner, a tenant, an agent, a fitout contractor, a lawyer or a marketing guru, there are so many pain points in the commercial leasing process that remain unresolved.
In general terms, I think the current system of matching commercial property and people is broken.
It has an unhealthy reliance on luck.
At times, it is bloody annoying.
It takes way, way too long to get deals done.
And the current system assumes that all property owners and tenants are commercial property experts when they aren’t. This is particularly prevalent at the smaller end. And as a result, in many instances, it does not meet the needs of either party.
Flexspace is great. I love what it has brought to our cities and its people and can only see upside for those operators and their customers. Traditional office leasing could learn a lot more from our flex-friends.
There’s lots of current chatter around traditional leasing versus flex-space. But to assume that these are the only two options for an occupier belies belief.
To explain, let’s take the simple example of booking accommodation for a holiday (OMG I how I miss thee!).
In the old days, you would simply book a hotel room or resort.
Today, think of the multitude of options for a traveller outside of traditional hotel and resort operators. Great thinkers like Airbnb& Unyoked have us staying in modern little boxes in deserted vineyards, drinking tinnies with cattle drovers in front of roaring fires in the outback, or eating dinner with local farmers in the rainforest with guinea pigs running around their feet searching for scraps.
In essence, there is practically no limit to the experiences you can get with travel accommodation.
Those of us that provide office accommodation would do well to think of our assets and the people that use them in the same way.
It shouldn’t be about how incredible our buildings are, whose end of trip facilities are the most state of the art or just how super-premium our premium arrival experience is.
I sometimes feel like you could swap the names of building owners and the cities in which their buildings reside, and you’d struggle to tell the difference.
The “come and lease my building ‘cos it and we are amazing, and we understand you” is homogenous and omnipresent and frankly boring.
The next generation of office providers is coming.
They are going to shift the conversation from how great our buildings and services are and start creating customer journeys and outcomes that will be primarily remembered by the way they make people feel.
Now that’s iconic.