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The Happiness Guide: Chapter 2 – Should I stay or should I go?

By Tina Perinotto

7 August 2013 — Well, you and the relationship are doing just fine. There you are, happy landlord, and there’s the tenant, plugging away at their business. Suddenly, before anyone can say boo, it’s lease renegotiation time. Up comes that little bit of paper you both signed at the start of this commitment and in it was the review period. Just like relationships in real life when you think about it. Except perhaps a little more organised and planned.

For a minute, forget who you are, Mr and Ms Owner or Property Manager, and step inside the mind of the “other party”, the “tenant”. There is no better way to get this relationship humming along, long-time.

So what do you, as tenant, think of the space? Is it the right size, design and configuration to meet your business needs?

You’ve heard of productivity reports starting to filter out from their secret hiding places in the bowels of research dungeons. And yes, it’s more than anecdotal – a green office building with better fitout materials that don’t spew out toxic offgassing, and air that isn’t stale, too cold or too warm actually does save a business money. Green buildings raise productivity because the staff are happier and feel, well, maybe more important, like they’re a critical part of the business and actually driving the action.  Logical when you think about it. Brain surgery? Not.

Then there is the direct money savings dividend. In New York, just changing the lights in the 32 floors in the Ernst & Young offices saved the company a cool $1 million a year in energy bills.

Let’s not forget the savings versus earnings equation – for each dollar saved, how much do you need to bring in as gross income?

Scary when you think about it. Ernst & Young didn’t take long to do its sums (well, it is an accountancy). And it’s probably the easiest million dollars they ever netted.

In this Chapter 2 of our Guide to Happiness, we look at the tools and resources that have been created to make the job of weighing up what a good office is. And how to assess whether this relationship – with the landlord – is going to meet your needs for the long term (owners please pay close attention).

Click to read Chapter 1

There are tools and pointers for tenants, created by our collaborators on this project, the Better Buildings Partnership.

Our principal author Lynne Blundell has canvassed a real life case study. It’s on WWF-Australia, which had no choice but to find new premises when its landlord decided to redevelop the property it was occupying. Not surprisingly, this environmental organisation needed to meet very high sustainability and cultural goals. What’s interesting for all tenants is that WWF-Australia achieved this at no additional cost.

In another case study on a large multinational, the owner decided to fight to keep a good tenant, by offering refurbishment including new lighting and bike facilities. In this market, that’s a wise landlord.

What are tenants really thinking?

If there’s one outfit that knows the secret life of tenants it’s Campbell Scholtens. This small team, which for years has travelled under the radar, has been doing some intensive analysis for Australia’s biggest landlords on what tenants really think about their premises and the landlord. It’s illuminating to read about what the main concerns are – cleaning (a big one), lifts (always, but getting a tad better these days) and airconditioning (oh yes, the old airconditioning problems).

Lasseter’s Reef

Well we know you like the book. Maybe even love it judging by the über hits we’re receiving.

It could be that we’ve tapped the Lasseter’s reef of curiosity in property. But when you think about it, what could be more visceral to a landlord in a tough market beyond how to make tenants happy? Which makes the owners happy of course.

Ah… what a nice virtuous circle that happiness tends to inscribe on the landscape.

And we’ve got a feeling that will continue for the remaining chapters (10 in all).

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