The Third Space Provides Tenants a Connection Between Work and Home

In a recent article on The Boston Business Journal’s website, there were details of Oxford Properties’ recent redevelopment of the building lobby at 125 Summer Street in Boston. By the looks of things the project was a MASSIVE undertaking … the $10 million redevelopment completely repositioned the building’s lobby and entrance, providing a more welcoming entry to the building and connecting the building’s interior with its vibrant surroundings. In the article, the head of Oxford’s Boston office, Chad Remis, explained that Oxford is “taking more of a hospitality approach to the lobby, in the sense that we want it to be a third space. We want our tenant base to feel comfortable and to want to use it, want to interact in it, and want to have meetings in it.”

Chad’s reference to “the third space” (also known as “the third place”) refers to a term first coined by Harvard academic Homi K. Bhabha to describe the area that develops when two or more people or cultures interact. (Don’t worry … this is the only time I will use the word “academic”!) Third spaces are outside of your home (the first space) and your work (the second space) … they’re a bridge or conduit between work and home where people engage with others in a dynamic and interactive way. The lobby redevelopment at 125 Summer Street appears to be Oxford’s attempt – seemingly successful! – to provide the tenants and visitors of the building with a third space in which to engage each other in the building lobby in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t. Sounds like a great arrangement for everyone!

We can expect to see more “third space” environments pop up in office buildings as more property managers look for ways to engage their tenants outside of the traditional tenant spaces. While some might describe the local Starbucks – with everyone tapping away on their devices while sipping a latte – as an example of a functional third space, it has its limitations (not the least of which are the massive lineups.) “We’re seeing that all this mobility is hitting a wall and that people will want to return to the office as firms get smarter and have amenities that coffee shops don’t have,” explains  Cherie Johnson, Director of Global Design at Steelcase, in an article in Steelcase’s online 360 magazine. “Creating a highly effective corporate third place involves more than access to good coffee and Wi-Fi—it’s about integrating work and life. It’s about creating an environment that supports the well-being of people physically, cognitively and emotionally.”

The message for property managers is that they can help their tenants integrate work and life, and support their well-being, by following Oxford’s lead to develop third spaces in their buildings. I’m interested in hearing your take on the concept of the third space and its impact on tenant interactions, so please post your comments!


Kirk Layton is the president of Eservus, an online corporate concierge company servicing over 30 property management companies in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Boston.

Team Spirit Contest Engages Tenants

One of the things that Eservus tries to do as much as possible is engage the tenants in the buildings we serve. We think of ourselves as our property manager clients’ partner in tenant engagement; we have opportunities every day to connect with tenants and provide them with an engaging experience. And one of the most effective techniques to engage tenants is with contests.

Tenants LOVE contests, and they can be a very cost-effective way to interact with tenants and create a bit of fun and excitement in the building. Eservus recently organized a very successful contest called the Eservus Team Spirit Luxury Suite Giveaway. The Toronto Blue Jays were finishing off their regular season and we took advantage of the excitement surrounding the Jays with a contest that asked tenants to submit a video showing their team spirit. We received two dozen videos, many of which were of impressively high production value. The company whose video was deemed to show the most creativity, originality and team spirit was awarded a luxury suite for 16 to watch the Blue Jays take on the Yankees at the end of the regular season.

The contest was a success for several reasons. First, we capitalized on the excitement and enthusiasm already surrounding the Jays. Second, it was a really cool prize! (That said, you don’t have to pony up an expensive prize to engage tenants … when I worked at Cadillac Fairview, we had a contest where the prize was a jar of jelly beans, and we had hundreds of entries.) Third, we posted the videos on our YouTube channel while the contest was still running to create even more engagement (at last count, there were 4,300 views). Finally, after the contest was over, we shared each tenant’s videos with the property manager of the tenant’s building. The property managers were impressed to see how involved their tenants were in the contest. I also think they were impressed by how Eservus created such a high level of tenant engagement!

Check out the winning video by clicking here. And think of ways you can engage tenants through contests. If you’re an Eservus client, we’d love to help you with that!


Kirk Layton is the president of Eservus, an online corporate concierge company servicing over 30 property management companies in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Boston.

Behavioural Economics: A Little Nudge Can Go a Long Way

A few months ago I came across this article in the Globe and Mail on behavioural economics. Now before you nod off, it’s more interesting than it sounds! Behavioural economics (BE) combines psychology and economics to show how people make decisions in real life. By using BE, companies can influence the way people make decisions and increase the likelihood of purchase.

Companies should keep BE in mind as they craft their e-mails and website content. As the article mentions, “marketers are using BE to examine how customers select products, how they consume them, and what features, prices and designs could be improved to enhance the way consumers make choices.” It’s all about “nudges” … subtle cues that coax people to, among other things, make purchase decisions that work in the retailer’s favour.

One simple example of BE: Since people tend to “follow the herd,” companies label products as “Most Popular” or “Top Seller” to nudge people to jump on the bandwagon and make a purchase. (This is an example of social proof, a popular element of BE.) In addition to trying some of the tactics in the article, companies should give some thought to what offers they can label as “most popular” or “top sellers” and put behavioural economics to the test!

The impact of BE is profound: According to the Globe article, “firms employing BE principles have outperformed their peers by 85 per cent in sales growth and by more than 25 per cent in gross profitability.” Clearly a little nudging can go a long way!


Three Easy Ways to Help Your Tenants Succeed

A good property manager is readily available and responsive to tenant issues. A great one surpasses tenant expectations by being proactive and taking tenant goals and objectives into consideration. And the good news is, you don’t have to be a mind reader to figure out how to help your tenants succeed. Here are three easy ways to help your tenants succeed:

Feature building retailers in tenant newsletters

If you publish a tenant newsletter, write a short profile of a retailer or service provider in the building. You’ll bring them to the attention of your tenants, reminding them of the key services and amenities your building offers. At the same time, you’ll hopefully give your building retailer a boost in business.

Support your tenants’ charitable causes

Recognizing your tenants’ charitable causes is a simple way to align with their goals and help them succeed. At your next building event, invite an anchor tenant to promote their charitable cause, either with signage, a booth or donation box. Another option is allowing a tenant to use communal space, such as the building lobby, for their fundraising. For example, you could invite a tenant raising money for a charity through the sale of art to display artwork for purchase in the lobby.

Promote building retailers in tenant welcome kits and manuals

When new tenants move into the building, provide them with a list of building retailers and services in a welcome kit. Ideally, the retailers and service providers – and nearby restaurants too – will provide coupons or discount codes for new tenants. If you’re planning to update your tenant manual, include a list of retailers within the building to raise tenant awareness.    

Kirk Layton is the president of Eservus, an online corporate concierge company servicing over 30 property management companies in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Boston.

Importance of Tenant Engagement Increasing for PMs

I was at a BOMA International conference at the beginning of February in Washington DC and I participated in a round-table discussion with a number of senior property managers about the latest trends in commercial real estate. As you can imagine, there was a lengthy discussion on a wide variety of topics, including security issues (this was the U.S. after all!), technology, maintenance and other more mundane topics that all PMs need to think about. But by far the most spirited – and for me, most interesting – part of the conversation centred on the PMs’ attempts to engage their tenants in meaningful ways. While some of the PMs seemed to have elements of what could be called tenant engagement strategies, most didn’t really know what to do to engage their tenants (especially the millennials) and were asking for ideas. I see that as a huge opportunity for corporate concierge companies like Eservus.

BOMA Washington meeting

Corporate concierge services do a great job engaging tenants. Whenever tenants interact with Eservus, whether it’s a member reading an e-mail, browsing through our website or talking to a concierge on the phone, we are engaging the tenants on behalf of the property managers. And as more and more property managers look for meaningful ways to engage their tenants, concierge services can make an even more valuable contribution, especially if we leverage technology.

Website designers talk about creating websites that are “sticky” – that engage browsers, maintain their interest, keep them on the site and increase the chances of making a sale. I think a trend for property managers in the near future is going to be to do whatever they can to make their buildings “sticky” – to engage their tenants in meaningful ways so that they renew their leases. A lot of what tenants will be engaged with will be driven by technology, and I think concierge services like Eservus can have a hand in that. For example, the property manager can put in a running track around a suburban property as a tenant service, but to engage the tenants, wouldn’t it be cool to have an app that allows tenants to sign up for a running group? That’s something that concierge services can are poised to have a hand in, because we’re engaging with the tenants already.

So concierge services should be thought of as an integral part of property managers’ tenant engagement strategy … whether they have one or not! And proactive concierge service providers should work on developing strategies to provide property managers with tools to help them engage their tenants. Here’s to sticky buildings!

Kirk Layton is the president of Eservus, an online corporate concierge company servicing over 30 property management companies in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Boston.

BOMA Recognition is Good for Business

By Kirk Layton

Property managers are always on the lookout for new ways to distinguish their buildings, make a connection with existing tenants and attract future customers. Earning awards and certification from the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) is a cost-effective way to achieve all three goals.

Completing the submission requirements calls for some time and commitment, but the short- and long-term payoffs make it worth the effort. Here’s how BOMA recognition can benefit your building and operations:

A competitive advantage
Achieving BOMA awards and certification is like getting a stamp of approval for your properties. With BOMA’s Certificate of Excellence, for example, property managers can prove to tenants, and perhaps more importantly, to prospective tenants, that they have met BOMA’s rigorous standards in the key areas that are most important to them, such as energy management and community impact. As a result, BOMA certification puts property managers in a better position to compete with other BOMA-certified buildings, and gain a competitive advantage on PMs that are not certified.

Quality control… and improvement
While preparing the written submission for BOMA’s Certificate of Excellence, Earth Award or Pinnacle Award, property managers must assess whether they make the grade in terms of their building features, programs and services. If you have not been documenting your procedures, the application process is an opportunity to develop a permanent record of key programs and policies, which is valuable for training and communication purposes. Furthermore, as you review the requirements, you may be discover that you’re excelling in one area, such as tenant relations, but have deficiencies in another, such as emergency preparedness. Being aware of BOMA’s requirements can help clarify where improvements need to be made.

An opportunity for regional (and international) exposure
The highest-scoring Certificate of Excellence recipients receive BOMA’s prestigious Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY) award and qualify for regional and potentially international competition. That’s great recognition and exposure for your property, not to mention an excellent opportunity to instill a sense of pride among your management team and staff … and even your tenants.

Kirk Layton is the president of Eservus, an online corporate concierge company servicing over 30 property management companies in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Boston.

Taking Tenant Retention Strategies to the Next Level

Tenant engagement is a top priority for today’s property managers who realize it’s no longer enough to simply provide good office space. The most innovative property managers also offer exclusive services and amenities that allow their tenants to be more productive and efficient – both at work and in their personal lives – and create an environment that fosters social connections and collaboration.

One company that’s getting it right is Investa, a leading office owner and manager in Australia. Investa recently kicked off a tenant engagement program called INSITE, which is being piloted in 11 of its buildings. It features an online tenant portal designed to save occupants time and make work-life easier, more fun and engaging.

Time-saving services for tenants

Through INSITE, building tenants access a variety of convenient services, such as dry cleaning, airport transfers, meeting rooms and catering services. Concierge services are at the core of INSITE; at each building a virtual or on-site concierge service helps deliver all services.

A hub for social connections

INSITE has a social networking component, which enables occupants to join active groups or coordinate their own groups for everything from running to yoga plus networking events. INSITE also makes it easy to give feedback to Investa’s property management team.

Easy access to building news and events

Through INSITE, Investa tenants can get the latest local and building news and learn about promotional offers, upcoming events and the latest environmental performance information for their buildings.

With the INSITE program, Investa’s goal is to forge stronger connections between building tenants and its property management teams. And I have no doubt that they’ll achieve it. As property managers consider their own development plans, this type of program shows there’s a real opportunity to create a more collaborative building experience that better engages tenants and helps them thrive.