Following Daniel Longmire's June blog post 'Is shared space the cruise line of the property industry?', Generator New Zealand recently interviewed him about COVID-19 and its impact on the shared space industry, the wider office market and TwentyTwo. We republish the interview here...
Q&A with TwentyTwo – Independent Property Advisors
We got to chat to Daniel Longmire, an Advisor at Twenty Two about his experiences after the last lockdown. He shares how him and the team got on and also talks about what will be important to businesses and people in the property sector going forward.
Tell us a little bit about TwentyTwo and your role?
We are specialist independent property advisors located in Auckland and Wellington (although we operate nationally) and have been in business for 30 years this year! Our clients are generally occupiers of property – tenants and owner-occupiers – across all sectors and all markets. We provide a range of services and expertise from property strategy and workplace strategy through to lease negotiations, development agreement and construction contract negotiations, workplace technology, project leadership, and project reviews and assurance. We were the first independent/tenant focused adviser established in New Zealand and we’ve been involved in a large number of projects and transactions, providing independent advice - engaged by our clients as a professional adviser – not an agent!
Our objective is to help our clients make the right property decisions. We do this in a way that is collaborative, that is founded on experience, that focuses on non-adversarial negotiations and is solutions oriented. We are ultimately business focused not property focused. The right property solution for a business is only ever a business enabler!
About me/my role (Daniel Longmire)
As an Advisor at TwentyTwo, I provide advice and insights on the commercial property market; needs analysis/briefing, stay-go decisions, new leases/lease renewals, rent reviews, portfolio management and a wide range of issues associated with managing large property portfolios.
I have been working in the commercial property sector for five years, based in Auckland, working nationally. I have a passion for data and research and using that information to work with clients to help them make better property decisions.
How long have you been a Generator member for?
TwentyTwo has been a member since 2012, starting off in Stanbeth & Excelsior House when establishing an Auckland hub (the business started in Wellington). We grew and then moved over to our current spot in Britomart Place in 2018.
What attracted TwentyTwo to Generator in the first place?
I wasn’t here at the time, but Dean Croucher, our Managing Director, had this to say:
I chose Generator as:
- The concept of shared space had been on my radar and Generator was one of the first major offerings of substance
- The location in Britomart, and the building/fitout, was innovative and fitted with TwentyTwo’s brand – disruptive and non-conventional
- We could establish a credible Auckland presence at low cost and I could use it as a practical base when I was in Auckland working and establishing new relationships
- I could surround myself in other likeminded people and get a sense of energy from the wider community
- Stanbeth & Excelsior House are located at 22-28 Customs Street East which is very fitting/on-brand!
Has your business changed at all since lockdown? What have been some of the biggest challenges and learnings for you personally, and your businesses from Covid-19?
From an internal business perspective we’ve become more flexible and it strengthened our ability to work from multiple locations – we had really good tech and processes in place already and it gave us a good chance to really test it to its limits (it’s one of our service lines to help identify needs and then implement and support these systems). We also had a much larger focus on coming together as a whole firm more frequently – we had a full firm Teams video hui every morning instead of monthly in person ‘TwentyTwo Days’ (which are a monthly companywide activity and catch up day).
In terms of our clients, we’re helping a lot with rental abatements and negotiations, both during the lockdown and then helping them adapt to the new Covid-economy now in place. Some now have different requirements and need less space or more flexible lease terms and we’re helping them find a solution. Going forward we’re going to be helping clients create workspaces and property portfolios that are more resilient and flexible to threats like Covid – whereas previously other drivers may have been more important e.g. cost or decreasing the ratio of office space per person.
In terms of challenges, it’s figuring out how much change is appropriate for each client – with a majority of firms now exploring some form of permanent flexible working from home arrangement. It’s challenging but rewarding – as our advice has material and long-term impacts/outcomes for our clients – with property typically being the second largest cost a business will encounter (after wages).
Personally, the biggest challenge has been staying motivated to keep going to the gym/go for a run. It’s too easy to binge Netflix when you’re in lockdown or not commuting into the city! A learning would be I definitely thrive off social interaction and missed my friends/family a lot more than I expected.
What do you think will be important to people and businesses post-Covid? Why?
As discussed in my blog for TwentyTwo, I think flexibility will be absolutely key. Flexibility in terms of lease arrangements, lease terms, the ability to shrink and grow space requirements with fluctuations in the economy and also flexibility in terms of where and how staff work. Companies are looking to the future with uncertainty, and rightly so. They aren’t as willing to commit to a fixed amount of space with rigid lease terms when there are currently so many unknowns. Flexible working is also critical - the ability to work from both the office and home seamlessly is important – which requires the right systems and IT both at the office and at home.
What do you think the future of shared space has in store for it?
I think shared space will definitely play a role in the post-Covid environment. With some tweaking to its offering (mainly concerns around shared amenities) it will adapt and it is positioned well to cater to demand for flexibility. Companies will find shared space attractive and they can expand or contract as needed, without long leases, expensive fitouts or make good obligations. Striking the right price point though will remain important.