Placemaking is a loosely defined term which is generally open to interpretation. Whether it’s the way a building is constructed and designed, with high quality amenities and a focus on sustainability; or the roles of the people working there ensuring the space is managed and used thoughtfully. Placemaking ensures a development is created with a sense of well-being for the individuals who use it. Everyone knows a good place when they’re in one, but there’s no singular approach or tangible strategy to make it work.
Here at MRG, we recruit a vast variety of property management and facilities professionals each month, across both the public and private sector. Some ensure our country’s best educational institutions offer our student population modern, clean inspiring facilities in which to learn, call home and socialise in. Others are for some of the largest shopping destinations aiming for as many of us as possible to part with our hard-earned cash in-store rather than being shipped from a large warehouse hundreds of miles away; often again being managed and maintained by one of our recruits. Offices of towering glass and steel in the world’s major commercial hubs. World famous destinations celebrating the arts, heritage, and culture. Great stadiums, private members clubs, airports and even later living accommodation. The list for those seeking placemakers seemingly gets bigger each month yet some things remain consistent across each asset class.
Ultimately, what the vast majority of destinations and assets we recruit for want is to ensure one very simple outcome is achieved – “People using the space”.
Our City Centres need to be full of people, shopping, socialising, interacting, eating out and having fun. Offices need people working, collaborating, sharing ideas and being productive. Universities should be colourful campuses full of excitement, intrigue, and a thirst to learn. Without people, the vast majority of assets, no matter what’s its purpose, are pointless for the most part. This links to the success of any asset; the investors, occupier and managing agents must see that it is the users that will create the value. Yes, collecting rent (at a sensible price and structure) and service charge is critically important, but the impact of the past 2 years has put a greater emphasis on the quality of the experience for the end user. As a society, our expectations are greater than they ever have been. People want choice, ease, and variety.
The old-fashioned Landlord/Tenant dynamic is definitely changing, and it needed to. Some Investors still yearn for 25 year leases and will quote some RICS guidance every chance given. But actually, the value isn’t in the detail of the lease and will hopefully never be again. The value is how the people using the space feel – and whether they want to want to use it. We’re seeing an uptick in requirements from clients who want to focus on:
- Improving the Customer (end-user) Experience
- Addressing the challenge surround ESG
- Improving integration of technology
- Maintaining, improving, adapting.
This all clearly has a knock-on effect to the type of person that organisations are now looking to recruit. We appreciate that not all buildings need a hotel-like concierge on reception; or an all-singing and all-dancing piece of tech to update you on occupancy rates. But it is clear that the expectations of the people that use buildings have shifted.
Lots has been written by industry experts of the need to create better destinations across all sectors, but little thought has been given to how this directly affects the recruitment process, which has a direct correlation to the talent which needs to be recruited to enable such new challenges to be faced.
The property industry by and large is not full of customer service, experience experts. It doesn’t have a wealth of tech professionals and there certainly aren’t enough experts in the ESG field to go around. We (the property sector) certainly have a track record in the Engineering and Facilities industry of taking skill sets from the military. Some parts of the sector have utilised the hospitality sector, like PBSA or Co-Living, but this hasn’t yet been adopted by the wider industry. We have heard of retail leaders moving into shopping centre management; however, we have found that hiring managers are still reluctant to make that change.
The link between looking to external talent pools can only help make the industry and workforce more diverse. The industry historically from a surveying standpoint has by in large, attracted people from a certain class and background. By looking to find people from other industries, the sector should be able to attract different people with more varied skillsets, to take on this changing landscape.
Want to discuss this article in further detail? Or, are you looking to make a placemaking hire within your organisation? Get in touch with Matthew Evans, who can help with your requirements.