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December 2016

Property Management and the Open Office

It might be a rare Property Manager who is unfamiliar with the concept of the open office. According to an article in The Sydney Morning Herald (Nov. 19) – and probably about twelve dozen other news outlets in the last year or so – co-working office spaces are swiftly becoming the norm and replacing the old cubicle-of-death office layout. The shift to open offices may be a regrettable development for those of you who liked to sleep under your desk à la George Costanza. However, it’s apparently great for improving productivity and collaboration while reducing costs. Why costs? Because traditional offices under-utilize up to 60% of space in a typical workday. For Property Managers, the transition to open offices presents a new paradigm.

openofficespace

The open office is a trend that began in start-ups and smaller offices, notably in the high-tech industry in California, whose workforce is by and large younger than other businesses. It moved quickly into other industries, though, and across geographical boundaries as its appeal became widespread. At this point, the open office concept is swiftly working its way across offices not just in Australia, where the article cited above comes from, but in Canada as well. In fact, a recent Globe and Mail article (Nov. 3) acknowledges that open offices or offices comprising both cubicles and open spaces are here to stay.

Property Management and the Open Office Layout – so what?

First of all, it’s arguable that some Property Managers don’t actually want their tenants moving to open office layouts, because the same number of employees need less space than in traditional, cubicle offices. This can mean downsizing when it comes to lease re-negotiation and that, of course, creates new space that must be filled.

Second, a shift to the open office can cause headaches for the building requirements. For example, the transition to open office spaces from traditional cubicles can mean that the heating and cooling system in place no longer works as efficiently. As such, costly changes might be needed to amend the H-VAC system. This is a cost that would fall on the tenant, of course, if they want to go forward with it. But messing with the H-VAC in any building can lead to more issues than any one person might want to deal with.

When it comes down to it, in most cases tenants can modify their office space as they see fit. They just have to make sure that their changes are within the bounds of their lease and they do not do irreversible damage to the property.

We must ask, however, what Property Managers can do about it or, to a certain extent, what it has to do with us at all. This is where one of the basic tenets of Property Management comes into play. Arguably the most important aspect of Property Management is to maximize income over the economic life of the property on behalf of the property owners. That income includes net income and capital gains, yes, but the concept of “income” also covers amenities and enjoyment of real property.  As such, while it is not up to us as Property Managers to implement change, it does fall on us to make the process of change as easy as possible.

That’s what

Enjoyment of property should ensure that tenants like their work space so much that it is in their best interest to re-sign leases when they are up for renegotiation.  It should also make the property appealing to new tenants who may have their own ideas of what makes an office theirs. New and old tenants should be able to grasp, quickly, what options are available to them when considering a lease or when they want to make physical changes. 

Perhaps the best way of doing that is to have, at the ready, straightforward construction rules and regulations as well as pre-approved lists of Contractors, such as those we offer in Calgary. Having such a list at the ready can greatly speed up the process of change. Similarly, the process of approval for any design changes to an office space should be swift and efficient. It is thus incumbent upon the Property Manager to have staff or contractors available to review any new submissions that will alter the built environment.

As property managers, we have to adapt to the changing trends driving office leasing. As such, let us embrace this new paradigm in order to stay relevant in this new changing era of a millennial workforce and business uncertainty. Let us welcome the open office with open arms.

 

 

July 2015

Victoria BOMA BESt Level 2

Tillyard Victoria Achieves BOMA BESt Level 2

910 Government Street, boma best

910 Government Street

Tillyard Management Inc. is pleased to announce that we have achieved the BOMA BESt Level 2 designation at Harbour Centre, 910 Government Street. This is the result of an ongoing and concerted effort to go green and achieve management excellence in environmental and energy performance.  Since 2012, when we began upgrading our lighting and plumbing system, we have saved over $215,000 in electrical consumption and over $50,000 in water conservation (see previous post).

According to BOMA, Level 2 certified buildings meet all of the BOMA Go Green Best Practices, which is the requirement for BOMA BESt Level 1, but it also achieves a score of 70%-79% on BOMA’s Go Green Plus test. In order to meet this goal, our building managers supplied BOMA with extensive data on 910 Government Street’s consumption of energy over the period of one year to prove that it is meeting BOMA’s energy consumption benchmarks.

BOMA, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada is “the voice of the Canadian commercial real estate industry” (see BOMA Canada). It is a critical organisation for the promotion of best practices and is a major advocate for change on issues of national concern.

March 2015

Environmental Initiatives

Environmental Initiatives Lead to Economic Savings at 910 Government St., Victoria 

Environmental initiatives

Harbour Centre, 910 Government St.

Who says saving the planet is prohibitively expensive?

Tillyard Management Inc. is pleased to announce that the environmental initiatives that we have undertaken at 910 Government Street, Victoria, at Harbour Centre are hugely successful. After achieving BOMA BESt® Level 1 certification in 2011, we replaced the building’s lighting ballasts and tubes with lower wattage alternatives that are more energy efficient. Ballasts can be found in fluorescent and HID (high-intensity discharge) lighting systems and act as voltage boosters for fluorescent light tubes.

We estimated at the time that our yearly savings in electricity would be about $39,500.

We were wrong.

An energy and water audit conducted earlier this year shows that we have actually saved $50,000 in electricity per year since undertaking this initiative – that’s a total savings of $200,000 worth of electricity to date, and those savings will only increase as we move forward.

But that’s not all.

We also installed low-flush toilets and, since we put them in four years ago, they have saved Harbour Centre a total of $50,000 in water costs to date.

These saving show that there is an economic advantage to following sustainability initiatives. At Tillyard Management Inc., we are proud to say that we are not only doing the right thing for our environment, we are also saving money for our property investors while we’re at it.