The New Resilience: Why occupier engagement is your first line of defence in disrupted times

WRITTEN BY Claire Middleton
POSTED ON December 8, 2018

Perfect hosts: WeWork Weteringschans

THE mantra that ‘property is as much about people as it is bricks and mortar’ was repeated loud and clear at the third annual RealService/GRESB seminar which was kindly hosted by WeWork at Weteringschans, Amsterdam on 6th December 2018.

Speaking to an audience of key figures in the property industry, Howard Morgan (RealService), Ronen Journo (WeWork) and Dr Chris Pyke (USGBC) all emphasised the importance of putting people first when it comes to designing and occupying buildings.

The theme for the seminar was: “The new resilience: Why occupier engagement is your first line of defence in disrupted times,” redefining a term which is usually used to describe measures to protect property again fire, flood and other natural disasters.

Morgan, the founder and managing director of customer experience consultancy RealService, believes that property companies can protect themselves against economic and political fluctuations by increasing their engagement with their customers.

He spoke under the banner of “cultural resilience” and challenged property companies to move more quickly towards a customer-centric approach while acknowledging that progress had been made.

He cited PhD research carried out by Dr Danielle Sanderson at Henley Business School which proved that property companies could bolster their bottom line total returns by almost two per cent points if they improved their levels of customer satisfaction.  “The property industry is moving in the right direction,” he said, “but are we moving fast enough?”

One of the reasons property companies are having to up their game is the entrance into the market of WeWork, the disrupter which is changing the face of office occupation by offering short leases, flexible space and top-notch customer service.

Journo, WeWork’s Senior Vice President of Enterprise and Workplace Strategy, spoke about “product resilience”, and detailed the way the company intends to build on its successes and stay relevant.

“We are changing the language, making a movement,” he said. “We create destinations. Our buildings are much more than just an asset, we want to humanise the workplace. There is not one company out there which is not cannibalising itself or being disrupted and if all you are is a brand name, you’re dead.”

Dr Chris Pyke, research officer of the US Green Building Council and former chief operating officer of GRESB, tackled personal resilience and how health and wellbeing is becoming a key agenda item in the workplace.

There are three tenets to the implementation of a successful health and wellbeing policy in the workplace, he said: leadership, strategy and measurement.

“If there is no leadership, there is probably no action being taken. In terms of strategy, companies have to ask themselves if they are promoting it to their customers, or themselves, or both. Many promote health and wellbeing to external communities while not doing anything internally.

“We see health and wellbeing as a differentiator in the industry and key to attracting and retaining staff,” he said.

The property industry faces internal and external challenges, from disrupters like WeWork, to economic and political uncertainty largely outside its control. Improving satisfaction among customers, clients, staff and other stakeholders – and developing loyalty as a result – is the only proven protection. Morgan’s challenge for the property industry in 2019 is to accept the inevitable and embrace the customer.


For more information about ways that RealService is helping clients create resilience contact Howard Morgan +44 203 393 9603 howard.morgan@real-service.co.uk