Property management (PM) services are crucial to enhance the overall efficiency of an established unit. As the demand for commercial spaces in India witnesses a continuous rise, along with an increased awareness of the quality of establishments across the globe, there has been an undergoing evolution of standards of construction and delivery of buildings in the contemporary market. Over the last decade, an integrated approach to managing spaces and facilities has also begun to gain significance with the emergence of this global commercial landscape.
The quality of modern office spaces in India has metamorphosed with the rise in their demand. The ambience of Grade-A office buildings today closely resembles that of star hospitality properties. As the visual appeal of top commercial buildings attains significance, many such buildings have been refurbished and upgraded.
Nevertheless, property management services in India are still at a nascent stage with focus on soft services, such as housekeeping, cleaning, safety and security, building and ground maintenance, catering and vending, operation and maintenance, landscaping and gardening services.
Modern commercial buildings utilize cutting-edge technology for both construction as well as building operations. Buildings today can also control environments, including precision air conditioners that control temperature as well as humidity levels. Water supply is no longer via overhead tanks but through a network of pipes and pumps from the basement, ensuring controlled water pressure. Buildings have an elaborate Fire Protection System with detectors to sound an alarm the moment smoke is detected. Each building has a mandatory sprinkler and hydrant system that automatically functions in case of fire.
Such systems are controlled by an elaborate Building Management System that hooks up to each utility, allowing building operators to not only monitor critical parameters, such as temperature, pressure and water levels, but also the time to control such operations. With such high-end installations and utilities being fitted into commercial buildings today, they can hardly be left unmonitored. And this is where the importance of Property Management services comes in to ensure that a designed space functions optimally and provides its occupants with the best work environment possible.
Realty firms in India are increasingly providing such services for professionally managing commercial buildings on the engineering side as well as maintaining a fresh, lively and clean building, which can be accomplished only with a dedicated set of professionals. A critical aspect of this demand is housekeeping services with the separate care and upkeep of different surfaces, both vertical and horizontal. A range of cleaning equipment is required to ensure that a facility appears topnotch.
Work spaces today incorporate small cafes, on-the-go eateries, green walls, landscaped spaces, and lounge environments to ensure that the occupant enjoys maximum comfort for highest productivity. This complex work environment now involves focused teams for construction and commissioning the building. Operating a building involves training a set of operators to handle the expensive and complex installations. Outsourcing these services in commercial establishments has become imperative, since landlords want to rationalize costs without compromising on the quality of services and infrastructure amenities. Moreover, these services are also quite labor incentive and call for a lot of time and energy.
In multi-tenanted buildings, for instance, the cost of maintaining a property is divided among individual tenants. This is also known as Common Area Maintenance. The developer charges these expenses to each occupant on a square-feet-basis of the area occupied.
The transition phase between construction and operation is very critical in this field. It is recommended that the Property Management Agency be brought in during the last phases of project development and the PMA must begin to take over the property three to six months prior to the completion of a project.
A lot of upcoming projects today bring in property management services into the fray much in advance, which helps the PM team to understand the property thoroughly. As part of the transition process, this team works closely to formalize policies and processes for visitor movement, disaster management, security deployment, monsoon preparedness, parking management and other standard operating procedures. The project ensures optimum maintenance of the property by planned redundancy for critical equipment, and the installation of the best equipment with long-term AMCs already signed on.
Although property management is yet to face its own challenges in India, the advent of organized retail and the creation of modern real estate spaces for commercial and residential purposes have been fuelling the demand for property management services in a big way.
The author is managing director, CBRE Asset Services & Global Workplace Solutions. Views expressed here are personal.