Pandemic is changing the way local real estate companies operate

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INDEPENDENCE, OH – Redwood Living Inc., a regional developer and owner of over 13,000 apartment buildings in seven states, opened its new state-of-the-art headquarters in Independence Thursday afternoon after a multi-million dollar renovation spanning the course. pandemics.

Redwood’s return to the office, driven by the need for collaboration and teamwork, is one of several, very different approaches that employers take about how and where their employees will work in a post-pandemic world.

Redwood staff and management cut the ribbon at the company’s new 32,000-square-foot facility near Pleasant Valley Drive, which features open-plan office space, employee lounges and a cafe bar. The company moved to Independence from Beachwood five years ago and worked in a tired, cramped office before renovations began in Pleasant Valley. While renovations continued during the pandemic, resulting in major changes in how and where people work, John Latuler, senior vice president of development at Redwood, said it was important for the company to return to the office. Equally important was an open, free space conducive to collaboration.

“We did a bit of work towards the end before we got the people back because we didn’t see this kind of collaboration,” Lateler said. “It was really difficult for Zoom or Microsoft Teams to call someone and coordinate. A cell phone can take you far. We really felt it was an important part of our DNA, right down to our core value of communicating openly and honestly – you can’t do it when you have doors. You must close these doors so that we can all talk to each other. “

For employers whose work involves collaboration and teamwork, the prevailing trend is to return completely to the office. However, other industries are being self-analyzed from top to bottom. The mood of the employees is driven by these conversations.

“Many of the decisions made at the C-Suite level about where they are going to sit and how they will operate now have more impact at the employee level than ever before,” said Nathan Kelly, president and managing director of Cushman & Wakefield. “You see a lot of variety in decisions about how people use their property. Some of them changed before COVID, but we can see that all of these changes are accelerating. ”

While there are many different approaches currently employed by employers, Kelly said these approaches will unite around whether to fully utilize work from home or develop flexible employment models. Smaller employers are more likely to adopt the full work-from-home structure. Telecommuting is also being used to retain and recruit new talent in an increasingly limited job market.

“COVID has escalated [the tight labor market] because now there are other trends that provide employees with more opportunities to work – not only from home, but also from home in another market in which they actually work. ” real estate, they are well aware of these changes and what they need to attract a better workforce, serve their clients and have a strong business. “

In addition to how employees work, their place of work could change, Kelly said. Companies of all sizes and industries may seek to offer their employees increased flexibility by opening small subsidiary offices in suburbs such as Independence.

Communities like the suburbs of Cleveland’s outer ring could see unexpected good fortune from this changing attitude. After providing just one incentive package for businesses looking to expand or relocate in 2020, the city has offered four such incentive packages this year alone.

“We want to be something for everyone. If this is a major operation, we want to be part of it, ”said Independence Mayor Gregory Kurz. “If we take on their branches, we want to provide them with the same level of service that they would receive in their primary location. This is an integrated approach. “

Independence’s centralized location proved to be a major selling point when Redwood first moved to the city five years ago, and it was an important moment when the company was exploring options for a new headquarters.

“We were very determined that everyone had a half hour drive, so that no one drove for five minutes and someone else drove for two hours,” Lateler said. “It also allowed us to attract a different talent pool and also allowed us to retain the talent we had on the east side.”

Kelly said it’s important to note that a downtown core like downtown Cleveland should not be discounted. The new headquarters for Sherwin-Williams is a testament to this.

“Downtown has the amenities, energy, population density, talent, and all the assets that the high-profile talent we are trying to attract,” said Kelly. “[Some businesses] want to have common values, a common culture, a common experience, and the ability to deploy new management capabilities, tools, and so on. It’s easier to do in a denser environment. “

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