“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.”
If I were to ask you who you thought said the above quote, you’d like pick a tech company founder or a military leader. You’d pick someone young and brash and progressive. You’d also be wrong. This quote is from the Dalai Lama. The quote does indeed reflect the current startup culture of disruption and dynamic paradigm shifts in how the modern world works, but it also speaks to a classic sense of understanding about human nature.
When we talk about transparency in commercial real estate, there is often a sense of fear. Knowledge is a commodity and holding your cards close to your chest has been a standard of the industry. It makes sense that when the stakes are so high, being transparent can also be costly. In today’s world, however, Millennials are demanding that their employers, friends, families, and, yes, even office buildings be transparent. This makes the cost of not being transparent the costlier error.
Transparency is a direct result of two-directional communication. Disseminating information is not nearly as effective as opening a dialog with tenancy. This article from last month highlights how important it is to have this dialog. Even WeWork, one of the best in the industry, is susceptible to bad press, outrage, and ultimately tenants seeking space elsewhere. If there were a more open dialog, this kind of thing wouldn’t happen because problems would be solved before they’ve taken hold. When tenants feel like their only response is to go to the press with their complaints, it’s clearly a sign of poor communication. It isn’t difficult for even the stodgiest of commercial real estate companies to improve their communication. It may be scary to consider that tenants may be willing to criticize a building directly to the administration and ownership groups, but it is far more scary to consider who they might complain to in the absence of a building’s administrators and owners.
Transparency, then, is not an idea to be feared. Instead, as the inverse of the Dalai Lama’s quote suggests- Transparency is the fruits of trust and security. Trust and security are byproducts of respect and respect begins with understanding. In order to gain this understanding, commercial office buildings need to take the risk of transparency and begin open dialogs with their tenants. The more open the communication channel, the more satisfied everyone in a building’s ecosystem will be.
Andrew Zusman is the co-founder and VP Product at Skyrise – a platform for landlords to build better communities and increase communication & tenant retention within their commercial office buildings. Connect with Andrew on Twitter, LinkedIn or at SkyriseApp.com.
+1 I could not resist.