• Expert Tips

Vacancy marketing:
New life for office space

  • Expert Tips

How can office space be market­ed today? Up until the 2010s, most buyers and tenants had simi­lar require­ments. Then came the start-ups, New Work, home office, ESG and, most recent­ly, the prop­er­ty crisis. Wish­es and require­ments multi­plied. At the same time, vacan­cies grew — to over 5.8 million square metres today in the seven top cities alone1 . In our news­room series  Expert tip: prop­er­ty market­ing, we now present a few solu­tions … perhaps one that you have not yet thought of.

3 trends that give hope

Even in the current diffi­cult times, there is a certain demand for office space, at least in some segments:

  • Small­er companies
    Accord­ing to a CBRE study2 , small­er, econom­i­cal­ly sound compa­nies are current­ly the most active tenant target group. Their size and flat hier­ar­chies make it easi­er for them to find the solu­tions they need. Further­more, the finan­cial outlay for space of 500 square metres or more is still manage­able, making it easi­er to make a deci­sion even in uncer­tain times.
  • Hybrid work­ing
    For many compa­nies, remote work­ing is now only a tempo­rary compo­nent: the trend is clear­ly moving towards hybrid work­ing, as a recent JLL study3 shows — and thus towards a return to the office, at least temporar­i­ly. 35% of employ­ees are now back in the office on 5 days a week, 45% on 3–4 days and 18% on 1–2 days.
  • Loca­tions with qual­i­ty of life
    Anoth­er trend reflects a gener­al devel­op­ment: medi­um-sized cities with between 200 and 500 thou­sand inhab­i­tants are not only grow­ing in popu­lar­i­ty in gener­al4 . The oppor­tu­ni­ties for office lettings are also better here, as the exam­ple of Nurem­berg shows5 .

Holis­tic ESG approach as an opportunity

Today, good ener­gy effi­cien­cy is a basic require­ment for buyers and tenants. Some build­ings even go beyond this and have their own capac­i­ties for gener­at­ing elec­tric­i­ty and heat. Howev­er, such ener­gy features will become stan­dard in the fore­see­able future. More effec­tive market­ing argu­ments are there­fore more exten­sive features that address all three ESG factors (envi­ron­men­tal, social, good gover­nance) equal­ly — such as

  • Car park with charg­ing station for elec­tric cars
  • Suffi­cient­ly large, easi­ly acces­si­ble bicy­cle garages
  • Green­ing of flat roofs, use as sports and leisure areas (also in exist­ing build­ings with suffi­cient load-bear­ing capacity)
  • Rooms for a daycare centre, possi­bly also as a commu­ni­ty facil­i­ty for neigh­bour­ing businesses
  • a digi­tal build­ing control system that also includes secu­ri­ty systems

Group feel­ing for small companies

Better sustain­abil­i­ty — through the shared use of resources — also char­ac­teris­es the next market­ing approach: the creation of rental offices and co-work­ing spaces. Today, fran­chise compa­nies offer owners, project devel­op­ers and investors compre­hen­sive support with devel­op­ment and market­ing. Inci­den­tal­ly, a current trend in work­space prop­er­ties is towards small­er units in loca­tions outside the metrop­o­lis­es: Their advan­tage is that they are close to people’s homes and have short commut­ing times for employees.

For the tenants — most­ly self-employed people, small busi­ness­es or branch offices — the model has great advan­tages. The shared use of recep­tion, confer­ence facil­i­ties, cafe­te­ria and build­ing manage­ment not only reduces costs, but also signif­i­cant­ly reduces the admin­is­tra­tive tasks asso­ci­at­ed with running the business.

Util­is­ing strengths with alter­na­tive forms of living

Convert­ing office space that is diffi­cult to let into resi­den­tial space is not a new idea in itself. Howev­er, there are some inter­est­ing trends in which office prop­er­ties have an advan­tage due to their typi­cal open-plan archi­tec­ture. This makes it possi­ble to create target­ed offers for new forms of living and living models for which the tradi­tion­al hous­ing market offers hard­ly any solutions:

  • Micro-living for Gener­a­tion Z 
    What once began in Tokyo with capsule flats is now attract­ing wide­spread inter­est among Gener­a­tion Z, who are look­ing for mobil­i­ty and sustain­abil­i­ty. Remote work­ing in chang­ing, attrac­tive metrop­o­lis­es or commut­ing between distant loca­tions are an expres­sion of new life models that focus on person­al devel­op­ment and flex­i­bil­i­ty. The target groups are students and young profes­sion­als who value mini­mal­ism as a way of life and like to furnish their homes in just a few square metres.
  • Serviced flats
    Small flats with domes­tic services are aimed at more afflu­ent tenants. In addi­tion to high-earn­ing young profes­sion­als, this model also appeals to anoth­er impor­tant target group: Accord­ing to Immo­bilien­man­ag­er, the German Prop­er­ty Feder­a­tion (ZIA) assumes that around 10% of senior citi­zens over the age of 70 prefer this form of hous­ing. There is already a short­age of 550,000 resi­den­tial units. At the same time, many older office build­ings offer an advan­ta­geous loca­tion for this target group: quiet, on the outskirts of the city and with good shop­ping facil­i­ties in the surround­ing commer­cial area.
  • Living in a community
    Shared flats are an attrac­tive solu­tion for young people and increas­ing­ly also for older people. Howev­er, many commu­ni­ties find it diffi­cult to find suit­able rooms. Even in large flats, most adjoin­ing rooms are often too small to offer all resi­dents suffi­cient private space. Open-plan office spaces, on the other hand, are ideal for plan­ning spacious commu­nal and private areas for group flats.

Win-win with compa­ny flats

For a long time, compa­ny flats prac­ti­cal­ly disap­peared from the market. In the mean­time, howev­er, some compa­nies such as Deutsche Bahn, Siemens and Volk­swa­gen have start­ed to revive this model. The idea also harbours great poten­tial for unused office space:

  • This not only creates urgent­ly need­ed living space. The offer of an afford­able flat as a “bonus” is almost unbeat­able when it comes to attract­ing skilled work­ers, as compa­nies can offer their employ­ees rents that are up to a third below the stan­dard market rate.
  • When own land is convert­ed, the exist­ing build­ings and land are retained.
  • Last but not least, some local author­i­ties grant special subsi­dies for compa­ny hous­ing — after all, this also strength­ens the loca­tion and tax revenues.

Not every vacan­cy can be elim­i­nat­ed by the means described. Howev­er, the exam­ples show one thing in common: there are solu­tions, but they are often off the beat­en track. This arti­cle is there­fore also intend­ed as an incen­tive to discov­er new trends and devel­op your own inno­v­a­tive ideas. We wish you every success!

1 Colliers: City Survey Q4 2023 for the top cities Berlin, Düssel­dorf, Frankfurt/M, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart

2 CBRE Research: Supra-region­al office invest­ment figures H2 2023

3 Johns Lang Lasalle: Is hybrid real­ly work­ing?, Decem­ber 2023 — Down­load 

4 Wirtschaftswoche: City rank­ing 2023 — The ten best cities in Germany, 21/11/2023

5 Immo­bilien­man­ag­er: Nurem­berg office market, 24/01/2024

(Image source: istockphotos)