A New Perspective on the Value of the Workplace (Dan Andrews Commentary)

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Like you, I wake up every day wondering what the latest news will bring. How many more cases? How are our hospitals and medical staff holding up? How much longer? And like you, I wake up longing for my communities: my church, our schools, and our places of work. Humans are social creatures, and we need interaction. Right now, we are having to do things a little differently, but I do truly believe that we will come out of this stronger and with renewed priorities. 

The virus has given me pause to reflect on many things, including what I do for a living. I work in commercial real estate. Recently, our firm, Tempus Realty Partners, announced the sale of an office park in South Carolina. We began that investment three years ago. As a businessman, I am humbled by the success we had in adding value to the property and the financial success of the investment. 

This is an Opinion

Yet as I reflect on our team’s accomplishment with the Axis Park project, I do so through a new perspective imposed by this pandemic. Through this new lens I’m beginning to realize that what we do is more than simply refurbish a building and make it ready for its next use, what we really do for a living is create a forum where communities can flourish. 

Our colleagues are our partners. Our workspace is a second home. It is where we work together to solve problems, where we connect with our coworkers and clients, and where we spend a majority of our waking hours. Commercial real estate shapes what those spaces look like and how industries gather.  

And although technology has made incredible advances in communication, transportation and infrastructure that allow people to work and live remotely, there remains a profound value in being together. Look at Silicon Valley — even companies on the cutting edge of innovation in the information technology sector continue to intentionally congregate in ecosystems of complementary work.

At the most fundamental level, commercial real estate derives value from the concept that a particular location allows one to create more value than they could elsewhere: location, location, location. This value manifests in virtually unlimited forms, ranging from the simple pleasure of joining nearby friends for dinner; the convenience of filling up the car at the local gas station; the basic utility of gathering and distributing goods from a warehouse; or the unique innovation of employees collaborating in a conference room. 

Each of these examples can happen because the fundamental economic components of ideas, capital and hard work are enabled by the catalyst of the right location.

In time, this season will pass, and the barrier between catalyst and ingredients will be lifted. When it does, economic activity will return, and people will thrive in community together just like we always have, because life is better together — and in one location.

Dan Andrews is managing partner of Tempus Realty Partners, an Arkansas-based real estate investment partnership. The group has holdings in northwest Arkansas; Dallas; Charlotte; Indianapolis; Columbus, Ohio; and Boise, Idaho.