Why flexibility is critical in times of crisis: 4 tips from JLL’s Vice Chairman

Why flexibility is critical in times of crisis: 4 tips from JLL’s Vice Chairman

As the commercial real estate industry adjusts to the new normal of social distancing and near-universal WFH mandates, we spoke with JLL’s Vice Chairman Jim Wenk, who shared his top advice for weathering a crisis, like the coronavirus. Wenk’s advice to brokers for getting through these times includes connecting with clients, staying focused, and embracing flexibility.

1. Connect with your clients, now more than ever.

In times of crisis and uncertainty, Wenk says that reaching out to clients and offering support and kindness is the most important thing you can do.

“This situation affects everyone equally in some ways and different in other ways. Our personal lives have been upended and most business is on the back burner,” he told us. “It’s so important to reach out and connect with people to simply check-in. Share a laugh and reassure each other we will persevere.”

Wenk also suggests keeping in touch with your professional networks.

“Be proactive, be sincere, and stay connected to clients, colleagues, counterparties, vendors, and suppliers,” he said. “Share your challenges and share best practices.”

Peers and networking groups can be a great source of support and encouragement as everyone is likely facing similar challenges.

2. Stay focused and ignore industry rumors.

As brokers navigate the challenges that come with these uncertain times, Wenk recommends staying focused on the big picture. An easy way to do this? Ignore industry rumors and focus on helping your clients, whether in the immediate days, months, or years down the line.

“[One common misconception is] that businesses will completely rethink their HQ footprints and will keep more people WFH,” Wenk said. “I think employers have been smart in allowing employees to WFH based on their personal situations or just as an added perk. This will continue. However … I do not foresee corporations drastically reducing their HQ footprints to allow for more people to WFH. That is a culture killer in my opinion.”

While you will likely see transactions slow down as businesses reassess their future, there’s no need to panic. Wenk emphasized that considering the big picture and long-term is key to getting through these uncertain times.

3. Be optimistic, there will be big opportunities ahead.

As most of the world adjusts to working from home, remember this situation won’t last forever. Eventually, we will return to normal life — and that means going back to work in the office.

But for now, it’s an important time to communicate with your clients and really understand both their near-term space needs and future plans.

“Younger brokers, hang in there. Keep making relationships, keep giving your clients good ideas, research trends, and just stay connected,” he said. “For the more experienced brokers, the successful ones know [that] some of the most creative transactions come to fruition during uncertain periods. This will be no different.”

4. Embrace flexibility – and flexible solutions.

With the lasting effects of this global health crisis remaining unknown, companies and brokers alike should consider flexible solutions to help manage potential risks.

“In the short-term, some companies’ construction schedules for their new locations will be impacted and I think they will have a need for flexible solutions,” he said.

Flexible workspaces that are furnished and move-in ready can be an effective solution for companies to transition back to an office environment quickly while construction gets completed.

In the long-term, Wenk forecasted an increased need and opportunity for flexible, private office space, especially for smaller businesses that can’t risk being tied to a long-term lease but still want a space for themselves once this is all over.

“For companies with 10-50 employees, I think flexible workspace makes sense in many instances, but most importantly, in times of uncertainty, “ he told us. “The last thing a company should be spending time with is facilities management, maintenance, cleaning, security deposits, etc. It’s critical for all businesses to be hyper-focused on their customers’ and their employees’ well-being.”

As an industry veteran who has seen it all, Wenk’s advice has an underlying theme of optimism.

“When there is extreme uncertainty, fear, and challenges to businesses, there can be a silver lining, and often opportunities will come out of it,” he said. “Many brilliant ideas and businesses have been created in the most challenging of economic times.”

Breather provides frictionless access to a network of private, productive meeting and office spaces available by the hour, day, month or year. Our flexible terms give you the freedom to only pay for the space you need, as long as you need it. From WiFi to whiteboards to modern furnishings and plenty of natural light, every space is equipped with everything you need to do your best work.

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