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Embracing Innovation, Culture, and Change

Business Services & Best Practices

Republished with permission from Wealth Management Real Estate.

Perseverance. Innovation. Change. Hope. Empathy. These characteristics certainly defined the past year. With the challenges of a global pandemic, related uncertainty, and a rapidly changing industry, commercial real estate brokers needed to demonstrate a long list of unique qualities to succeed. But perhaps the most critical has been an ability to manage and embrace change.

Looking ahead, tomorrow’s leading brokers are already preparing updated business plans - closely evaluating what did and did not work. They are examining growth prospects, making new hires where appropriate to the team, and seeking the next big idea to help capture additional market share. As we quickly approach the end of the year, this remaining time provides an opportunity to evaluate where our industry is heading into 2022 and how to best capitalize on what lies ahead.

Two Stories of Supply and Demand

This year, we witnessed the immense growth across all things industrial. Business is booming throughout the entire sector, but vacancy is nearing capacity in many areas. In contrast, the office market continues efforts to regain its balance. The questions for the coming year are unique for each product type but can be traced back to supply and demand.

For industrial, the complications of current supply chain issues have been playing out on the world stage and there are no easy answers. Delayed goods like construction materials are consequently driving building costs and as a result, hampering new development. In a recent study from the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), the SIOR Snapshot Sentiment Report highlighted the continued expansion of e-commerce and direct-to-consumer delivery channels. This will remain a significant driver for industrial real estate in the years ahead. The end result - any businesses competing for space in an already scarcity filled environment will need to adjust strategy.

The office market also has supply and demand issues, but in a very different setting. Available product still far outpaces interest, but the sector has shown early signs of promise with some tenants firming up their longer-term plans. Real estate professionals remain hopeful that the great return to the office will play out in 2022. While we expect to see a reduction in vacancy next year, many businesses remain uncertain about finding that elusive balance of working from home vs. the office, and its overall impact on collaboration.

The People’s Choice

Most business leaders large and small, would confirm there is nothing more important than maintaining a vibrant culture in the workplace. Solving for that in today’s environment isn’t easy and there’s no perfect answer to this complex topic. The world is working and acting differently now, and as a result, the needs of workers have changed. Office in general is still trying to determine what that will ultimately look like going forward, but employees are clearly in the driver’s seat, a point made increasingly evident by the current labor shortage.

In all respects, the workplace is in the middle of a massive transition. Employees and supervisors discovered that working from home can be productive while also improving work/life balance. This flexibility has driven many to seek out increased benefits from their employers, and a willingness to quit if those benefits aren’t met. With more jobs available than workers willing to fill them, employers are finding a need to evaluate different dynamics.

The past few years have proven how important an equitable culture is, where trust, respect, and different opinions are encouraged and celebrated. Moving forward, positively impacting a company’s culture may be the single most important factor for success, but technology is also close behind.

Endless Innovation

The digital world has transformed our access to resources, forever altering how we interact and the method in which we deliver services and corresponding expectations. Technology was already a vital asset for professionals, but it will play an even bigger role in the years ahead. Adversity breeds invention, and much like the pandemic led to an extensive adoption of new technologies, brokers must continue to embrace reinvention and change.

The best brokers are no longer concentrated solely on real estate transactions. They are also partners and advisors, helping clients navigate through the process with knowledge and trust. Tomorrow’s leading brokers and the next generation of industry-shifting real estate organizations will remain highly focused on technology and building a conversation around transformation.

Looking Ahead

Change can be both challenging and daunting. However, if we’ve learned anything in the last few years, it is that investing in quality people, information, technology, and resources will propel us forward in extraordinary ways.

To achieve success in a constantly changing business landscape, professionals will need to find a way to convert today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities. Consider this question: “Where am I finding the right knowledge, people, and culture that will encourage best-in-class work and facilitate growth and innovation?” Learning from the answers and focusing on forward-thinking initiatives are the keys to unlocking possibility and staying ahead of the competition.

Once you reach the top, don’t expect it to get easier. That same group of competitors will quickly be using your methods as the new benchmark for success. The focus on continual improvement and excellence never ends.

Robert Thornburgh, SIOR, CCIM, CPM, FRICS

Robert Thornburgh, SIOR, CCIM, CPM, FRICS

Industrial Specialist
Chief Executive Officer, SIOR
Washington, DC
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