Last week we had the chance to meet up with three commercial real estate (CRE) experts for the webinar, “Tips to Enhance Tenant Experience & Grow Occupancy in Office Buildings.” Panelists included: 

  • Tim Curran, President, Property Management Technology Group, JLL Technologies 
  • Caralynn Starnes, Vice President, Senior General Manager, One South in Charlotte, NC 
  • Shelly Just, Associate Vice President, Global Implementation, HqO 

Curran, Starnes, and Just all weighed in on the importance of tenant experience at CRE office buildings and often used the term, “commute-worthy office buildings” throughout the discussion. We’re here to recap what all property owners and operators should know if they plan to grow occupancy at their office buildings. 

Tips to Enhance Tenant Experience & Grow Occupancy in Office Buildings

Tips to Enhance Tenant Experience & Grow Occupancy in Office Buildings

This on-demand webinar shares the latest data on the CRE office outlook. Experts provide best practices for enhancing the tenant experience to attract and retain occupants.

Outlook for the future of office buildings 

“That first phase of getting folks back [after the pandemic] was about safety. Is the building safe and secure? Am I going to be able to move around the building? Is it going to be clean and sanitized?” said Curran. “Now it turned into, ‘How do we attract people back to the building?’  

“And there are a lot of reasons to stay at home and not commute in. We have to create reasons to want to come in. That still has a lot to do with safety, security, air quality, sanitation, maintenance, comfort. All of that still holds true, but now it’s got to be a whole lot more,” he added. 

However, he noted that getting office occupancy back to where it needs to be in order to keep real estate healthy is challenging. Property teams need to be vigilant and be willing to experiment. Agility is key, he added. That means property teams can’t wait for an annual survey to know how tenants feel about their experience. “You have to be connected to your tenants always,” he said. 

This is a more challenging time than ever,” concurred Just. “With hybrid work arrangements, the demand for office space is still there, but the use of the space and footprint might look slightly different.” 

She said tenants have set higher expectations for their office spaces, mainly because companies want their employees back in the office. “Tenants are putting more expectations on landlords to create an environment and a building that people want to come to,” Just said. 

Research report: The future of tenant experience in CRE

Research report: The future of tenant experience in CRE

What is clear, according to research, is that high-performing companies need high-performing workplaces and employees. Download the full report now.

What it means to have commute-worthy office buildings 

“The recipe for a commute-worthy building would mean creating and delivering an environment that’s packed with a hospitable atmosphere, desirable spaces, and intentional content,” said Starnes. 

“It’s not just about the physical building but the experience in general. Everyone knows hybrid is here to stay,” added Just. “Employees want a better and more meaningful sense of community at their workplaces. So as landlords, there’s more to think about now more than ever about that experience you’re creating. Is it frictionless? Is it convenient? Is it safe? Is it secure? Do employees know what is happening on the days and weeks they’re coming into the office so they can plan their trip?” 

She referred to the term “purposeful presence” as it relates to CRE tenants and occupancy. She defined it as the psychological decision-making process that employees and tenants go through when deciding to go into the office. 

Putting “purposeful presence” to use, Just said the three stages tenants and employees consider before going into the office are: 

  1. Conscious decision-making: When tenants make a conscious effort to leave the comforts of home. 
  2. Power of connection: If tenants decide to come in, what is it that the building and office has? Is it informal interactions? Events? 
  3. Reflection: Every interaction the tenant has with their workplace will define how they go about their thought process for the next decision. 

A commute-worthy office building means spaces that support productive work, convenience, and social interactions, Just added. “Property teams can do this by improving access to office spaces, adding new technology, and ultimately, improving those workplace connections,” she said. 

3 ways property managers can improve tenant satisfaction

3 ways property managers can improve tenant satisfaction

Read this blog for three ways property managers can improve tenant satisfaction and win back the commute at their buildings.

Popular amenities to improve tenant experience 

Top amenities are being added to properties to make the office more appealing to tenants and their employees. Starnes said the amenities they’ve chosen to implement at One South are: 

  • Lounge spaces for quiet enjoyment 
  • Private meeting rooms 
  • Sports simulator 
  • Streaming studio 
  • Private wellness rooms 
  • Curated coffee bar 
  • Weekly tenant activities 

“Variety is what I would say is super popular right now,” said Starnes. “For us, we have gained notable momentum as far as new tenants go and also see a rise in our tenants coming back to the office more frequently.” 

Just said HqO research shows there are three main must-have services and amenities to bring tenants back to the office: 

  • Informal social interactions
  • Meeting spaces 
  • Technology/buildings apps

“There is opportunity for landlords who are trying to partner with tenant companies to increase the day-to-day occupancy of their building,” said Just. “An elevated experience helps build stronger workplace connections, which in turn leads to better business outcomes like increased net operating income (NOI) and boosted productivity.” 

Commercial Office Trends: Top 5 Questions Answered for Property Teams

Commercial Office Trends: Top 5 Questions Answered for Property Teams

CRE property teams are facing new challenges as the workplace continues to shift. This blog answers the top five questions on commercial office property teams’ minds.


This insightful webinar conversation encourages CRE office owners and operators to reflect on the tenant experience at their buildings. Experts said property teams should ask themselves questions like, does my property offer enough to tenants? Would I consider it to be a commute-worthy office building? 

With these considerations in mind, we encourage you to watch the full on-demand webinar, “Tips to Enhance Tenant Experience & Grow Occupancy in Office Buildings” for more helpful information.