How Can Commercial Buildings Thrive? Takeaways from BOMA 2021

Author TouchSource

In early October, property managers and industry leaders reunited in-person at BOMA International Conference & Expo. For TouchSource, we were excited to return to the event for the first time since 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

The theme of this year’s show was “BOOM. Everything’s Different,” with main goals being to discuss the state of the industry and find out what’s next for commercial real estate. The question loomed: 2020 changed everything — Will the industry bounce back?

Over the course of our 3 days in Boston, we joined sessions and listened to speakers powerfully address how we can move forward as an industry. We saw many people come out to the show to visit with vendors like us, seeking technology solutions for their properties. There were far more attendees than anticipated, signaling that people want to reconnect, learn what’s new and what’s next for commercial real estate.

Here are some of our top takeaways from the show:

1. Technology is Accelerating. Many buildings and properties were long overdue for an overhaul before 2020 hit. But the pandemic and other events created circumstances that required swift action so they could stay afloat. From enabling remote working to realizing the need for smarter building systems, technology development accelerated. Both established and emerging businesses rolled up their sleeves and worked to make buildings and office spaces safer, better plan for and manage occupancy, and establish better communication systems.

We, too, were one of those businesses. Meeting the needs of today’s buildings and CRE leaders has always been a top priority for TouchSource. But during 2020, we needed to pivot to continue to support our customers’ needs. We spent the year creating new software and signage solutions to help property managers keep their buildings safe as pandemic guidance evolved. And we didn’t stop there – we anticipated the need for providing a suite of solutions to support a successful hybrid work environment, so we developed them.

With 2020 in the rearview mirror, both businesses and investors are betting that properties will take advantage of the many new tech solutions in front of them. And technology is speeding up to meet their needs.

2. Renewed Focus on Sustainability, Health, and Resilience. The demand for modern, sustainable buildings that are affordable is stronger than ever. According to a report by Cushman & Wakefield, the pandemic accelerated tenant demand for ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) assets.

It’s no secret that top buildings are seeking to be “Greener.” Sustainable office buildings command higher rents compared to their non-updated counterparts. So as buildings are modernizing their spaces, they also are incorporating elements and systems that are not only sustainable, but create a sense of wellbeing. Incorporating digital directories is a great way to deliver a tech-forward experience while setting the tone of a space with inspiring visuals. At TouchSource, we help buildings by providing software and directory solutions that offer a sustainable feel. With a video wall directory, properties can bring the outdoors inside using natural scenes and murals.

3. The Office Isn’t Going Anywhere. Session leaders addressed the rise of remote work and what the future holds for offices. During the pandemic, worker productivity overall did not suffer; In fact, some employees believed they were more productive than ever. Employees were able to get valuable time back that was previously spent on long commutes, and spend more time with their families and furry-legged friends. Why go back to the office?

But they do. According to research by CBRE, employees want flexibility to work virtually in the future, but most want to work in the office for part of the week. Enter the hybrid work environment, which buildings were not prepared for but need to adapt to in order to meet the needs of the workforce.

So how can successful hybrid working be achieved? In order to create a successful office environment in which people come in at different days of the week, and hold meetings both in-person and virtually, buildings need to adopt the right technology.

At the show, TouchSource shared flexible office solutions to support building owners looking to better manage their spaces in a hybrid work environment. In a sleek fashion, our technology helps property managers communicate what spaces, including desks, are occupied or available. This partners seamlessly with room signage that shows what meetings are taking place in the future, controlled with the common calendaring tools that enable real-time management of that data. All to make sure that spaces are being utilized effectively and safely, without confusion.

The bottom line: Commercial Real Estate has the opportunity to emerge more powerful, more efficient, and more tenant-friendly than ever before. Properties and buildings are already quickly adopting the newest technologies to modernize their spaces, putting themselves in the best position to attract and retain high-value tenants. Your property shouldn’t get left behind. Is it time to retire your outdated directory and get a tech-forward solution that elevates your building? Take the next step. Call us today to get started on a project.


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