Panel events: Are you creating an echo chamber of views?

Many years ago, I chaired a roundtable on the future of business parks.

A business park developer, an agent who leased business park space, an architect who designed business parks, and a business park tenant took part in the discussion.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

There was lots of excited conversation about what the business park of the future would look like, what facilities it would have and how it would be used.

The occupier wasn’t joining in, so I asked what they thought of the suggestions. What they said stopped everyone in their tracks.

Why?

The tenant – the business that may or may not lease space in the future – didn’t want most of what was suggested.

Instead, they reeled off a list of what they did want from a business park.

I used to regularly chair panel discussions for the magazine I worked for.

Curve ball panellist

They were great generators of content and brand awareness but what made them really fly was when there was a ‘curve ball’ panellist.

There would be a range of people on the panel representing different sides of property development. However, the best discussions were when there was someone whose experience was different from the rest of the panellists.

An outsider.

One example was a discussion about economic growth in a particular region. Four out of five of the panellists were from the area and one was not.

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2020 – a year of lessons for the built environment

There is no getting away from the fact that 2020 has been a life/work experiment that no-one could have predicted and it will shape the built environment for years to come.

But this is an evolution, not a revolution. Yes, bricks and mortar retail has had an extremely tough year but it was already struggling in some quarters.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

And working from home pre-dates the March lockdown – it just became a necessity rather than an option.

So what lessons can we take from the exceptional circustances of 2020?

We learned the value of the office and the important role it can play.

There are advantages to working from home – for some at least. It can be more productive when you just need to get your head down and concentrate, for example.

It gives time back as there is no commute which can mean a better work-life balance.

Value of interaction

But being forced to work from home has also shown the value of interaction which you get from working in a shared space.

It has highlighted how skills and knowledge can be more easily be built and shared – particularly for those starting out in their career.

Will this affect how office space is used – and ultimately designed? Undoubtedly.

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What is your ideal working environment?

My Friday fun poll over on LinkedIn this week is about your preferred working environment and whether you like background music, talk or silence.

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

We don’t have much choice but to work from home at the moment and that may or may not be conducive to getting stuff done.

But putting to one side these strange times, what would be your ideal ‘office’ set up?

It’s such a personal thing, isn’t it? I don’t envy businesses designing office space and trying to navigate the middle ground.

Open-plan offices have made communication and collaboration much easier – but they can also be noisy and distracting.

Idea of office hell

My idea of hell would be an office with music that I had no control over.

I do like music when I work but it has to be classical. Anything else is distracting and can start to stress me out.

If I can’t have music then I want quiet or a very low hubbub of voices.

Back when I used to work in an office I often found it noisy and difficult to zone out of conversations happening around me.

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What a B2B press release is – and isn’t

When it comes to press releases I’ve seen both sides. I’ve received hundreds, possibly thousands in my career as a B2B property journalist and I’ve also helped property PR’s write them.

The purpose of a press release is clear, to tell journalists your story so, hopefully, they will think it is interesting enough to tell their readers.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

What journalists are looking for is the facts and figures and a good, usable quote (more on the latter in a moment).

Your press release, once it has pinged into a journalist’s inbox is theirs to do with what they will. It becomes their story, not yours.

A journalist will most likely want to add their own take, expand on it with some research, additional information, comment or opinion.

It may involve interviews with you, your peers, your rivals, a person on the street or anyone else they feel has value to add to the story.

Value-add for readers

They aim to write something that best serves their readers. What value can they add for their readership, not what they can do for you, your business and brand.

Once, when out doing interviews for a regional property feature, I was told that I should be doing my bit to boost a particular area.

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Portfolio: Thinking Real Estate magazine for Trowers & Hamlins

In the Autumn I worked with Trowers & Hamlins on their Thinking Real Estate client magazine, interviewing and writing a series of features on issues affecting and shaping the property industry.

Topics included: The shift towards social value in real estate, sustainable tourism, balancing tougher regulations and housing delivery, intergenerational living and combating loneliness and green finance.

You can read or download Thinking Real Estate online here.

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