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A happy building is healthy building

There are also several ‘intangible’ aspects to look at when it comes to a building’s health, including the happiness of building users.

​A healthy building typically refers to a building that is designed and constructed and operates to have favorable impact on health and satisfaction as well as the productivity of its users — ranging from air quality and daylighting to views of nature and interior layouts. As a result, a lot of focus is on technical aspects such as selection of fit out materials, and ventilation, lighting, water and air quality control systems. But for Dexter Norville, Head of Estate Management at JLL, there are also several ‘intangible’ aspects to look at when it comes to a building’s health. One of these aspects is the happiness of building users.

As a landlord, it is important to maintain a healthy portfolio of consistent, long-term tenants. Increasingly landlords are understanding and incorporating the need for happiness of their tenants into a tenant retention programme. Through strategic management and streamlined procedures, the ultimate goal is to achieve building-wide tenant satisfaction. 

Generally, building users’ satisfaction relies a lot on how the building is managed. Putting financial factors and amenities aside, experience shows that tenants are unlikely to move out when the building they are in is kept clean, tidy and safe and the building management team is quick to respond tenants’ technical or operational needs related to the building.

Experience also shows that tenant engagement is another factor that can influence tenant satisfaction. In fact, the relationship between management and tenant is linked to overall satisfaction. A tenant that feels a strong positive connection to the landlord is less likely to vacate. Therefore, to increase the chances of maintaining tenants, landlords must foster a positive, attentive relationship with those who currently reside within their properties.

A number of landlords use personal touch approaches to build tenant engagement. Mr. Norville explains that an engagement programme can be simple. For example, landlords can work with the property management to plan different activities for tenants on prominent dates on the calendar throughout the year, with in consideration of practicality, budgets and potential engagement from tenants.

“Who does not like Chocolate?” Why not have a chocolate fondue station in the lobby on Valentine’s day and give all the visitors some love heart marshmallows to dip into it? It can be set up during the lunch time so the cost can be controlled but the impact will be lasting,” says Mr. Norville. “Another example is the Chinese New Year day when the landlord may invite a dragon troupe to entertain around the building and lobby and give people fortune cookies with nice wordings in them.”

Personal touch approaches to tenant engagement are seen more widely in some other markets around the globe and the feedback is positive from landlords and tenants alike. 

To ensure higher tenant engagement and satisfaction, landlords can work with their property management team to review any part of a building function and make action plans for improvement or enhancements. These may include scheduled phones calls or in-person visits that offer tenants a chance to express concerns.

“Having a healthy building involves the physical state of the building and the hearts and minds of the occupiers. Happiness of tenants and visitors provides a healthier atmosphere and feeling in a building,” says Mr. Norville.