It makes sense why office workers who have been working from home are dreading going back to the office now that vaccinations provide promise for normalcy. Many commercial real estate firms are guilty of promoting unhealthy competition in dog-eat-dog environments, however, Centennial Advisers embraces a more collaborative approach in disseminating information firm-wide, for the benefit of its client.
“I think it’s the natural evolution of the business, really,” Managing Partner Justin White said. “Historically, [at] the places I’ve been in the past, it was very siloed: you control your [own] information, you don’t share, and ultimately it’s a detriment to the client. Here, with how open we are and working together and sharing information, we can get more real-time information in the hands of these clients so they can make more profitable decisions.”Justin White, Centennial Advisers
A lot of attention has been placed on toxic work environments as the pandemic forces office work to consider new approaches. Reassessing office norms to promote new hygienic standards is a given, while in doing so it has indirectly cast a light on office bullying, harassment, discrimination and alienation. For commercial real estate offices, these forms of violations often manifest themselves in ways that are detrimental to clients. For example, refusing to share relevant information in fear of another agent’s success, or in spite of their personal preferences, or simply purposely setting up peers for failure. These types of scenarios thrive in spheres where collaboration is scarce. This doesn’t weigh heavier on anyone more than it does on young, up and coming, brokers in the business seeking mentorship, or seasoned veterans who are being undervalued due to their age. Although working from home does nothing to solve the feeling of isolation from the firm, it does eliminate the aspect of a toxic work environment.
“If one person is hearing about a transaction that you’re doing, maybe they can help and bring another client in,” Partner Doug Shea said. “You’re hearing other deals, you’re hearing people say, ‘Hey, I need this,’ and, boom, right away you have it. Instead of hiding behind a closed door saying, ‘Man, I wish I had another 20,000-square-foot retail center,’ now you say it out loud and this person over here has it. It’s more collaborative and it works.”
When the CDC decides to officially lift the pandemic label from the COVID-19 health crisis, and its restrictions, people may not flock back to certain aspects of pre-pandemic life—office life being a main one. Culture will have a lot to do with the success of each business as society returns to the office. Companies with “great” cultures stuck together through 2020 and survived and thrived. As 2021 rebounds those companies will further benefit as the economy recovers and exceeds previous expectations. At Centennial, they like to say Teamwork makes the Dreamwork.
“Through collaboration, the number of successful closings will increase compared to those places that are more siloed and individual. If there is a bigger pot of success to share, everybody ends up doing better,” White said. “The clients do more deals because they have better opportunities, and the advisers end up making a little more in the long run because they did some deals that they never would have been able to do on their own.”