The commercial opportunity of workplaces that make their tenants smarter

Graham Lauren
Jun 15, 2017 · 3 min read

If you operate commercial workplaces, what could be the value to your brand of the promise to tenants that your spaces can make their business smarter?

The competition of workplace curation

The Australian Financial Review reported in late 2016 Australian architect Hassell’s acquisition of British “space curation” company FreeState.

It wrote, “The commercial property business has already moved beyond simply selling and leasing space. The emerging world of “proptech” … is giving landlords the ability to service and respond to individual users of their space…”

Hassell chief executive Gerard Corcoran said, “your smartphone connects to a building that wants to attract you there… and [if it sways you] away from another building, there’s a competitive advantage…”

New workspace competition emerging

In the scope of commercial property leasing, configuration, branding and marketing messaging is changing fast.

To compete, every commercial property owner must become distinctive, evolving its business through branding that says something unique about what its buildings offer.

So, if the key to any sale lies in encouraging trial, Hassell’s acquisition has increasing pertinence in an age of coworking, when commercial space owners will likely be thrown into competition over every desk they hire out.

What could be better than your knowledge factories making their tenants smarter?

If you operate commercial workplaces, what tenant wouldn’t find the promise compelling that your spaces can make their organisation smarter?

The prospects for the operator capable of making and justifying such an offer are surely enormous, not least for the possible learning opportunities it presents both them and the tenant.

The competitive advantage gained from such learning could really accelerate.

In a knowledge economy, most organisations are essentially concentrations of business model know-how driven by technology and key executional capabilities.

Within their knowledge factories, they are themselves transformed by the constant acquisition, development, transmission and conversion of new knowledge into sales, and further data.

If you own the premises from which they work, how are you assisting their transformation?

Using collaborative technologies, this can be done and, based on our experience, we have a recipe to do it.

Landlords must become fingerprint readers

Every business contains “knowledge architectures,” each unique to its individual owner, like a fingerprint, that contains the blueprints for making workplaces smarter.

But knowledge architectures are hard to visualise or to manage, or to provide services for if you have no way of seeing or understanding them, which most landlords probably don’t — yet.

Yet, the development of their customers’ knowledge architectures is also core to the most persistent existential threat to commercial landlords.

Knowledge architecture is central to the tenant’s workplace strategy, and not to understand this is a grave shortcoming for a single reason.

Those getting smarter in their execution of workplace strategy take less space — and so will those who follow in their wake.

In an age of accelerating machine learning and increasingly space-efficient competition, this pressure won’t let up.

Prove your claims before a rival does

An understanding of knowledge architecture can make a workplace smarter and more valuable, and those claiming their spaces make the organisations working in them smarter will be challenged to prove it.

As yet, in configuring their workspaces, most tenant organisations have knowledge they don’t even realise they possess about how to make their workplaces leaner and more efficient.

Because they don’t realise they have it or how to get it, it is your opportunity to show it and bring it to them.

The likelihood of any property owner being able to do this in isolation without learning to collaborate with its customers is slender indeed.

The alternative to trying is to find yourself playing catch-up either to a customer or a rival who gets there before you, and probably both.

Neither is a particularly pretty place to be.

Landlords don’t want the pain of playing catch-up

Without initiating action to learn with and from tenants, it is likely this learning will happen somewhere else, and then the owner will be playing catch-up.

Not knowing what you don’t know is most likely a very uncomfortable and uncompetitive position to start from, if rivals are even just that one small step ahead.

Related: Landlords, is it better that you or someone else makes your tenants smarter about workplace strategy?

Workplace strategy

Workplace strategy is where building design, modern technology and new ways of working come together to deliver the future of work. Shiro Architects’ research focuses on understanding how to create a better workplace-design briefing for the future occupants of commercial space.

Graham Lauren

Written by

Shiro Architects director and business writer, writing, reading and researching workplace strategy, learning organisations and knowledge architecture.

Workplace strategy

Workplace strategy is where building design, modern technology and new ways of working come together to deliver the future of work. Shiro Architects’ research focuses on understanding how to create a better workplace-design briefing for the future occupants of commercial space.

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