"The last two years have been challenging, but also really inspiring in some ways," The Berman Group president Sarah Berman tells Doug Simon. "We've been creating campaigns for many of the real estate owners and operators and developers we work with, both in the commercial space and the residential space to help them to navigate COVID and also to bring their tenants along."
Noting that some record leases have been signed in the last year, Berman stresses that the advantages of a real, bricks-and-mortar office remain. "People, I think, do understand that a company needs to maintain its culture, needs to bring its people together, needs to attract talent, and an office is a very good way to do that."
But she also notes that owners have had to become "very, very, creative" to keep going during the pandemic.
That creativity, she says, takes several forms. One is in the amenities that commercial real estate owners can create for office workers. "Many of our clients have launched the kind of things you see in consumer marketing and PR, but all with the goal of welcoming people back," she tells Simon.
And while workers are often attracted by the buzz of the in-person workplace, "sometimes you have to do some things to lure them back in the first place." She cites the example of Brookfield, which she says is one of the most innovtive owners. "There's not a day that goes by that they don't have an event going on at Brookfield Place. It's been incredible to watch."
As the leader in the sheer amount of office space, is New York City setting the lead in getting out the message about a real estate comeback? Berman says that there is certainly "a ton of creative thinking" in the Big Apple, but such locations as Philadelphia, Miami and Boston are solid competitors as well.
Wherever the location, she tells Simon, communicators in the real estate sector need to step up their game. "It is not enough to just send a flyer under the door that there won't be a housecleaning on Martin Luther King Day."
A big way to do that is with the help of technology. "We're seeing the adaption of all these new apps, creative apps," she says.
"Technology is really being sped up as a result of COVID, with people having been at a distance and now kind of needing everything at their fingertips and needing to operate a bit more smartly as well."
Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]