Five takeaways from the Estates Gazette Marketing Summit

I was lucky enough to have attended the inaugural "Estates Gazette Marketing Summit" in London, just off Victoria Street. It was a packed day with some excellent speakers and excellent content. There was far too much to report in full, but here are my top five points/comments/thoughts from the day:

1.The most excellent Kim Tasso (@RedStarKim) suggested: "If you can' win the news race, provide the back-story."

If David Meerman Scott had been at the summit he would probably have talked about the back-story as a chance for "Newsjacking", and he would have underlined the importance of the speed of response to a news story.

It has to be Real Time people.

2. Sean Curtis of Land Securities (@seanc_marketing) asked: "Do shoppers want to be Friends with a shopping centre?"

The incredible number of Facebook 'Likes' accumulated following the launch of the Trinity Shopping Centre in Leeds (currently over 115,000) tells us that the unequivocal answer is "Yes they do."

3.Tim Watson of DixonBaxi informed the Marketing Summit that: "NOTHING is more important than customer insight."

It all boils down to what drives your customer/new business prospects. What are their needs, desires, motivations?

Having this insight will give you a clear idea of the type of content that you should be providing and what will stimulate your customers to interact with you.

Ultimately this will drive revenue.

4.John Williams (@JWKnightFrank): "There is a blurring of the lines between personal and professional lives and stating on a Social Media profile that 'The views expressed here are my own' is meaningless."

As John stated, the prevailing cult of personality means that customers and clients will look at what you say as a representative of your business and its brand - regardless of if you said it at work, at home or down the pub.

5. Caroline Mills CBRE (@ccsaurus) suggested that we should: "Forget B2C and B2B, it's all about B2P communication." Marketing and communications should be personal.

Bonus take away:

According to Caroline "FOMO" (Fear Of Missing Out) is a big motivator in B2C marketing.

And if your weren't at the Marketing Summit, I'm afraid you missed out.

Flexible working or a flexible workplace?

Every employee in the UK, provided they have been in the same job for six months, can now make a request to their employer to be allowed to work "flexibly". Employers have the legal obligation to supply an answer and to "provide a valid reason if they cannot say yes".

According to BBC News "flexible working" can mean: Part-time working, flexi-time, job-sharing, working from home or remotely, compressed hours, term-time working or agreeing annual hours.

There are, according to ACAS, a number of legitimate reasons for refusing that include:
• Burden of additional costs
• Inability to reorganise work among existing staff
• Inability to recruit additional staff
• Detrimental impact on quality
• Detrimental impact on performance
• Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
• Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
• Planned structural change to the business

Many businesses already allow staff to have such flexibility and commentators have suggested that the new legislation will have little impact. It does however bring the question of home working and flexible working practices into sharp focus. Will the result be an increase in people looking to work from home? What impact will this have on the demand for office space? Will even more home based workers mean an increase in vacant office buildings?

I'm not sure that it will.

The fact is that home working is not always easy. Not everyone has the facilities to work from home and there is more to going to work than just sitting at a desk (well - there should be!). There are those "water cooler" moments, conversations and opportunities to feed off the ideas and experience of others.

Teleconferencing is fine for those in different cities and countries, but conference calls are not great substitutes for face-to-face meetings with colleagues.

And what of those who have little experience of the workplace? What if they have a minimal level of "the culture of work"? Working from home may suit someone with a career spanning decades as they know what is needed, but would it suit a school leaver? Giving a fresh-faced teenager a laptop, a broadband connection, a smart phone and the green light to work from home could be seen by some as a recipe for disaster!

On the assumption that more people will take up the chance to "work flexibly" maybe will we see more "flexibility" built into the workplace? Will we see an increase in hot-desking and collaboration space and, if so, what does this mean for the office market?
Perhaps it is timely that JLL has recently published its report "Forget the Workplace... for Now", that suggests at "a new approach that contradicts the one-size-fits-all thinking behind then current conversations about flexible, mobile or collaborative working."

The study looks at balancing traditional office functions with "collaborative work", and suggests that "Getting this delicate balance wrong can significantly inhibit your ability to develop new products and services and deliver them to your clients."

This move towards collaborative working practices could see the growth in office accommodation that more and more resembles an airline business lounge - somewhere for colleagues and teams to come together for relatively short periods before dispersing to their chosen place of work? Maybe more and more office buildings will begin to resemble hotels, coffee shops?

Or even shopping centres?

Completion of Skanska's Monument Building changes EC3 skyline

Skanska has completed the development of The Monument Building in the City of London and has brought about a transformation of this historic part of the capital.

Demolition of the site began in 2013 and the new building with its distinctive exterior, designed by Ken Shuttleworth's MAKE architects, has produced 94,000sqft (8,733sqm) of Grade A office space on nine floors and 3,892 sq ft of valuable retail space on the ground floor.

The Monument Building is Skanska's first London development under its Workplaces by Skanska brand.

At the time of completion three of the nine floors of office space had been let, along with one of the two retail units. 

More information is available at www.themonumentbuilding.com