Commercial Real Estate and the Office of Tomorrow

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What is an office? What does an office represent, and will offices survive in the future?

From one aging perspective, the office represents the epitome of modern work. It’s a place that houses engine driving processes and directs the flow of money. Despite the decentralization of “the office,” there still is room for growth.

In fact, the United States Commercial Real Estate market is estimated to grow at a 3.5% CAGR with a value of more than $1 trillion USD between 2018 and 2027 (2021 is the base year), according to a report from Mordor Intelligence.

Some in the industry see smaller, local offices, like ‘branch offices’ becoming normal for mid to enterprise-level companies, shifting a controlled workspace closer to ‘remotes ‘in the form of comfortable satellite locations.  Indeed, could we see coffee houses owned by Ford Motor Company or Price Waterhouse in small-town America?

But with a rapid shift towards remote and hybrid environments over the past few years, 50% of company workers could be remote and outside the geographic reach of the home office.

Despite projected growth figures, lease renewals will remain a looming disturbance over the next couple of years, especially as the industry braces for a slew of non-renewals and acres of unleased, unoccupied floor space. Anyone selling into office environments has a vested interest in the commercial real estate industry because a downturn in occupancy equates to fewer computers, printers, and copiers in the field.
What should you be doing?

  • Remember the satellite office – bundle products and services specifically for ‘Work From Anywhere’
  • Provide unique to-the-office technology – faster internet, bigger monitors, studios, talk interactive wall displays, and digital assets not found in a household
  • Embrace the Digital Nomad Culture – it’s here to stay, so continue to model and share your remote work policy and drive implementation

Is MPS Really Dead? No. Well, sorta.

Managed Print Services, the active management, and optimization of output devices and associated business processes has been “mostly dead all day” as the universe of printed documents shrinks. But the idea survives, and contracts are being written.

Is MPS a tool for growth or a boondoggle?

Office technology providers across the spectrum are reporting higher than anticipated sales and volume nearing or exceeding pre-Covid figures. According to a recent report from Adroit, the global managed print services market will achieve an approximate value of $91.45 billion.

Additionally, European interests in the North American MPS market suggest outside interest in a mature market.  Managed print services is experiencing a renaissance just short of a resurrection.

Despite the drop in universal print volumes, there are plenty of unmanaged devices. So no, managed print services should not be overlooked.
What should you be doing?

  • Keep managing your existing contracts and actively seek out unmanaged assets
  • Consider the aggregate opportunity of three companies with ten units each representing a fleet of thirty devices: not three accounts.
  • Implement flat-rate subscriptions; not MPS contracts.

The Office as You Know it is NEVER Coming Back.  How are you going to sell?

Before September 11, 2001, every medium- to enterprise-size business had a front desk and receptionist.  Salespeople walked through the front door without an appointment and rarely had to outrun security.  Strolling in through the back door, into the shipping department and claiming to be lost, was a technique taught in many “How To Sell” courses.

Then everything changed.  Instead of a friendly smile, the norm became bulletproof glass, intercom systems, and armed guards.

Before Covid, we would perform the same ceremonies from account to account, coast to coast. We shook hands when greeted and conducted small talk while strolling to the conference room.  When the big decision-maker walked in, we all stood.  We introduced ourselves by handing out cards and talking about the weather.  Our PowerPoint presentations were laborious yet tolerated.  We terminated our meeting by answering questions, shaking hands again, walking out, and driving home or to the office.

Then everything changed. Video screens, wandering children, barking dogs, and meeting in pajama bottoms became the norm.
Trading value received for value given remains the same, but the journey to success – from the customer and seller’s point of view – has shifted more than ever.  Selling involves trust and right now trust is not a commodity.

What should you be doing when you sell?

  • Stick to the basics – don’t use jargon or talk above the prospect’s or your peer’s head
  • Increase your online presence and personal brand – your prospects and the people who advise them, visit the web
  • Expect fewer devices and less print – sell wisdom, acumen, and support - not speeds and feeds
  • Print is disposable, so too will IT - Sell differently. Consider e-commerce and higher business acumen

It isn’t disruption anymore, it is turbulence.  Riding out the storm is a choice.