Today, I’m reflecting on where we were nearly two months ago, when the world, and our workdays, looked quite different. In mid-March, I was packing up my computer and a few essential work items from my Berkadia office outside of D.C.—it was similar to when I’d pack up for a business trip, but this time, I was preparing to work from home, indefinitely.
We were unsure about what was ahead of us—how long we’d be remote and the extent to which COVID-19 would impact our communities and economy. I stayed calm but, inevitably, did have an uneasy feeling of what this meant for our business.
And beyond work—my wife, three teenaged boys and I faced the reality of quarantine, wondering what we were going to do cooped up in the house together. I remembered to stop and take a breath, and that’s when answers to “what are we going to do?” became clearer – as a family, we would simply rely on each other more than ever before.
This Unusual Time is Driving Our “Business Next” Mindset
Throughout Berkadia and our leadership team, we immediately worked to address concerns from our teams and clients—understandably, they were uneasy. Some employees did not have the technology capabilities to work remotely when this all started. Others wondered how they’d keep our relationship-based business alive without being able to meet with clients face-to-face. Investors and property managers were looking for sage advice from us as trusted partners.
Despite our initial remote move being a bit frantic, the dust has since settled. We’ve come to embrace what many are calling our “new normal” and have determined what this unusual time means for our business. With this shift, I’ve watched as our team has transitioned from a sense of unknown into a time to rethink the status quo and get creative. It is a moment to consider how we can improve, despite market uncertainty, and how we can collaborate, despite being physically apart.
An article in Harvard Business Review I read recently said it well: “When business as usual is impossible, it’s the perfect time to ask: What might business possible, business next, business better look like? What might business with purpose accomplish?”
For the commercial real estate business, we are in a moment when “business as usual” is impossible from a workplace perspective, and we are also facing an unusual market adjustment, as investors conservatively watch the short- and long-term market impacts of coronavirus. Many of us have time on our hands, and we must use it to our advantage. So far, I’ve watched this unfold in a couple of ways:
Innovating for Berkadia’s “Business Next”
As the real estate market takes a cautious pause, we are being purposely introspective. We’ve taken a step back to evaluate where we focus our business over the near, mid and long terms. Do the services and expertise we shared before the COVID-19 crisis address our clients’ concerns today? Will it tackle the new priorities of tomorrow?
We know that the market will pick back up, and we must be sure we’re anticipating the industry’s future needs when this is all behind us. Our commitment to our future and to client execution remains certain, but we’ll need to aggressively and appropriately adapt to what this looks like in the next business environment.
One way we’re doing this is by bringing together investment sales advisors, mortgage bankers and leaders across Berkadia in “think tanks” to creatively consider what comes next. Virtual collaboration amongst production teams from opposite ends of the country has fostered best practice sharing and innovative brainstorms to determine what today’s situation may mean for the commercial real estate industry of the future. As a leadership team, we’re incredibly energized by the input we’re getting from our teams about how we move forward as a business. We always stand ready to share these insights as well – they are specific in nature to your situation(s) too.
Our Commitment to “Business Better”
As we think about what comes next, we remain committed to delivering results for our clients in the here and now. We are facing the uncertainty of this crisis together, and it’s more important than ever that we remain a trusted resource—even if it is not during a term of numerous deal closings.
In some cases, we are in touch with our clients and the industry even more now than in the midst of the previous normal. Everyone is looking for support, advice, perspective(s)and even some assurance during this time, be it for what they are facing as a business or personally. To be a true partner, one must remain an active listener, understand the challenges others are facing and leverage the resources available to provide insight.
For us at Berkadia, we’re turning to our experience and in-depth commercial real estate industry database and research to help investors understand that we’ve come back from market adjustments like this before, and we’ll do it again. No two market cycles are exactly alike either, but together, we can, and will, get back to a more active deal market.
Soon enough, a version of “normal” will re-emerge, for our businesses, our economy and us as individuals. In the meantime, we need to take advantage of what’s in front of us—this includes at home. The Misner family has had its triumphs and mishaps: we’ve become proficient grill masters thanks to our Big Green Egg smoker that previously remained untouched, but we also now know that poker night was a one-time event too. We’ll come out on the other side of this more informed and ready for what the future holds—as an industry, as professionals, as families—because of how we’re maximizing time now.
Going forward, we will also be more mindful as to the preciousness of what we routinely consider normal. We recognize the sacrifices so many have endured and/or lost during these times. We also hold dear in our thoughts and hearts, all those on the front lines of this health crisis. We all rely on you all more than ever before and thank you.
–Keith Misner, Senior Vice President and Head of Investment Sales