Tom Larance

It’s no secret the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work, at least for now. But even as a good portion of the US workforce is now working at home, office landlords are still striving to provide experiences for their erstwhile tenants.

Many building owners are providing their tenants with a range of offerings from activities with children to cooking classes, how to host virtual cocktail hours, and even providing access to virtual experiences such as national park tours and workouts. In short, property managers and owners are taking their experience management digital. caught up with head of JLL Experience Management Tom Larance to hear more about this development.

What are some of the challenges you’re facing during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The biggest challenge right now is maintaining the health and safety of tenants, shoppers and employees. We’re constantly monitoring updates from local health authorities, the federal government and our tenants to ensure that everything we’re doing is in line with the latest guidance.

Many people are under stay-at-home orders and rightfully following the CDC’s recommendations for avoiding groups. Consequently, the in-person experiences we normally provide for office tenants and shoppers around the country have to reach people another way. These circumstances provide us with an opportunity to adapt using technology and reach people at home to directly deliver the experiences they want through virtual channels

What kinds of experiences are clients asking for as their tenants move to work from home?

We’re continuing to provide clients with experiences that fit four pillars of convenience: value, health and wellness, and social well-being and sustainability. Health is top of mind for many people right now, so tenants are clamoring for home workout options and we’re partnering with fitness providers to deliver on this surge in demand for live and pre-recorded fitness videos ranging from meditations and cardio circuits to recipes for immune boosting smoothies. Virtual happy hours continue to be popular as well, and we’re even offering virtual tours of national parks and spring-cleaning tips.

We also know that one of the challenges many workers are facing at home is childcare during the day. We’re providing tips and activities for people with kids that help everyone in the house stay engaged and occupied.

Why is experience still important during this time when office buildings are temporarily empty?

It may sound counter-intuitive, but offering office tenants with experience options is just as important now as it has ever been. Many people are working from home and are craving some sort of comradery with their coworkers or looking for something to break up their day.

We have heard for years from our clients how important the social aspect of their office is, and many workers have been flocking to our digital offerings to continue to get those experiences. For instance, team-building exercises and fitness classes have been heavily used by our clients’ tenants, which shows that people are trying to stay in touch and in shape much as they would if they were still in the office.

Is this the new norm for experience management around the industry?

It’s impossible to say what the “new norm” is because this situation is so fluid. However, we have to recognize that there will be some lasting impacts from this situation. Many people who have never been part of technology-driven experiences are getting their first taste and are understanding how effectively these experiences can be delivered in that format. Conversely, firms are also realizing how important the social aspect of these experiences are, and how critical those experiences are to creating culture that differentiates them from their competition.

Speaking of technology, what role is it playing in all of this?

Technology has always had a role to play in delivering top-of-the-line experiences. For instance, we have been providing the ability to schedule workout and cooking classes or order food through one-stop apps for several years. What’s changed now is that the technology needs to act as the conduit and delivery platform for the experiences. We’re finding that offering people easy-to-follow instructions on using video conferencing and providing notifications for when their activities are starting is increasing engagement and usage.

I suspect that the use of technology in bringing events to people will only deepen, even after things begin to stabilize.