As the world continues to work remotely, a new age of tenant engagement has emerged, leveraging technology and digitisation to connect and communicate with at-home workers. To celebrate the experience experts from our client partnerships, we have released our latest blog series, Equiem Experience Experts.
Over the coming weeks, we will be shining the spotlight on some of these experience specialists, featuring a number of skilled Managers, Marketers, Directors and Receptionists, carrying out exceptional occupier engagement through communication, virtual experiences, content campaigns and community initiatives, with the support of their Equiem platform.
Following on from our last chat with Sophie Weinmann, we caught up with Barbara Dalton, the Marketing & Events Coordinator for JLL, managing The Campus Connects and Founders District platforms in Ireland. Our Marketing & Partnerships Manager, Sarah Hudson, took the time to chat with Barbara about her career journey, the challenges of working during a pandemic, and most importantly what she has been doing to nurture thriving, connected occupier communities during this time.
Read the full interview below.
Sarah Hudson (SH): Can you tell us a little bit about your professional journey, from where you started in your career to where you are today.
Barbara Dalton (BD): I began my working life in my Father’s computer company. While working there I studied marketing at night, and went on to work for a number of Irish biotech companies in a variety of admin and marketing roles.
I relocated to Boston while working for one of these companies which was a career highlight for me!
When I came back via a short stint working in London, I decided to study PR, which was in its heyday! I spent a number of years working as an in-house PR Manager and then as an Accounts Manager for a PR Agency and got to work on a variety of different consumer brands.
Eventually, I went out on my own and worked as an independent PR Consultant. Over the years, I’ve had exposure to a lot of different industry sectors dealing with people from a broad range of backgrounds.
I gained a lot of experience in event management, honed my communication skills and managed different social media platforms, all of which have helped me in my role as Marketing and Events Coordinator at both The Campus Cherrywood and Founders District Belfield, where each business park has its own unique personality and a dynamic mix of tenant companies across different business sectors.
(SH): What an exciting journey with so many different avenues! What do you enjoy most about your role now today?
(BD): The role is so varied and it’s great that there’s never a typical day. I enjoy the daily buzz of a busy business park environment when I’m working onsite. I also get to organise a diverse range of events for our tenants; everything from food markets, fitness classes, craft workshops, health and wellness talks. I also get to host fun and entertaining events like our quiz nights, spin the wheel, food giveaways and wine tastings.
I enjoy teaming up with our onsite retailers for a variety of activations and bringing in small independent vendors for pop-ups in our lobbies and outdoors spaces – anything and everything from ice cream and doughnut pop-ups, jewellery workshops, colouring walls, seasonal gifting pop-ups, flowers, reiki practitioners to pizza trucks and wine tasting bars.
It’s also exciting to be a part of two business parks that are undergoing major development transformations creating spectacular outdoor spaces to improve tenant satisfaction.
(SH): It’s refreshing to hear someone speak about their job with such passion and vibrance. I can imagine it’s been difficult having to transition to remote working away from your tenant community. What has been your greatest challenge during the pandemic?
(BD): Having to work from home and missing the team camaraderie of working onsite. I miss seeing familiar friendly faces around the business parks too and just seeing people outside their offices enjoying themselves or catching up with members at one of our events.
It was so disappointing to have to cancel our in-person events as we had lined up some spectacular activities for our tenants during the summer months including a summer fete and outdoor games at The Campus and a series of themed BBQ’s and outdoor entertainments at Founders District which we know our tenants would have really enjoyed.
(SH): We can all definitely relate to missing the office camaraderie! When it comes to creating camaraderie amongst your tenants, what have you done to create a community at The Campus and Founders District?
(BD): We’ve created a community feel by bringing our tenants together through a programme of shared events and online activations that make social interactions easier and bring extra enjoyment into tenant’s daily lives, all managed via our Equiem platforms.
We launched the Equiem platforms at both sites back in 2018, and today the majority of our tenant populations are registered on the platforms at each business park.
It has positively changed everyone’s working environment and attitudes about where they work and members regard the platform as something special and exclusive for them, something they haven’t ever experienced where they’ve previously worked and makes them feel part of a larger community. We hold regular events which we know are popular like our artisan food markets, complimentary yoga and pilates classes, wellbeing talks and craft workshops and a range of fun pop-ups onsite.
It’s great to see how the companies at both sites have embraced the platform, encouraging their staff to sign up, sharing their business news stories, supporting each other’s charities initiatives, enjoying the competitive nature of our quiz nights and inter-company team challenges. The Equiem reporting dashboards also allow us to look into which of these companies are enjoying our events and activations most, and what content they value.
We’ve even teamed up with our tenant companies to champion their initiatives like The Campus Business Goal Mile and five-aside football competitions through the platform. We’ve also had tenant members at each site teach our yoga and pilates classes. While we also continually work closely with onsite retailers to promote their offerings to tenants.
(SH): It sounds like you do a lot to engage all members of your community, from the individual occupiers, to entire companies and local retailers. How have you been engaging with your building community during the pandemic?
(BD): We’ve kept our community connected with Equiem Remote on the platforms which has provided a sense of continuity and kept things active and fun for members. We’ve been busy streaming and hosting online yoga classes, mindfulness sessions, financial wellbeing talks, cookery demos, gardening workshops alongside fun digital activations like virtual egg hunts, online bingo, scavenger hunts and lots of giveaways with themed prizes.
Members at both sites have even got their children involved in our online bingo and scavenger hunts, which are two engagement initiatives included in Equiem’s remote programming.
We also asked our communities to tell us which online events were important to them, what prizes would be most helpful to win, to continue to engage them during lockdown and support the causes that they value most. It’s been an opportunity for those tenants who have not always been able to attend our onsite yoga classes or workshops to try them out while working from home and to explore new hobbies at our creative writing classes, crafts and gardening webinars.
We’ve also offered child-friendly craft tutorials to help parents keep their children occupied while schools were closed which went down well. And for anyone who misses an event, we have a catch up on-demand tab where they can find videos of the events that they have missed.
We have had great feedback from tenants, telling us it has really helped them stay sane and feel connected, our workshops and webinars have been an enjoyable way to spend a lunch hour, and they have really appreciated that we have offered something for everyone, particularly enjoying all the competitions and articles and webinars.
We’ve also teamed up with our onsite retailers like Bank of Ireland, Cherrywood for a series of Financial Wellbeing talks which have been popular, and a link on the platform to a dedicated Bank of Ireland Campus website, offering a range of financial support for everyone working at the business park.
Our communities have also gotten behind our initiatives to support the greater community, nominating people to receive special care packs in the community. And for those working on site, we’ve teamed up with our onsite retailers for treat days - free coffee days and lunch vouchers.
Some of the companies at The Campus have been at forefront of the fight against Coronavirus; rapidly bringing tests to market (Abbott), providing reagents and DNA profiling the virus (Genuity Science), working on vaccines (APC) and developing Covid-19 return to work apps (Evros). So we’ve been sharing these stories ensuring they get the recognition from their Cherrywood family.
(SH): During this time, we appreciate the value in recognising the heroes of your communities, and giving them the opportunity to share their story to bring occupiers together. Do you have a memorable activation or engagement experience that you've worked on that you can share with us?
(BD): I’ve got so many memorable experiences, that it’s hard to just choose one!
Our five-a-side football competition at The Campus was a stand-out one. We had teams from every company across the site, we thought it would be light-hearted and fun but it ended up being highly competitive! Teams took it very seriously and were all out to win!
Another memorable event was where members joined us in the lobby of one of our buildings for a nerve-wracking virtual reality experience during the day! It was fun to watch members take Richie's Plank walk and try out this virtual experience.
Our 4th July themed early evening party at Founders District last year was another stand out. We teamed up with the restaurant onsite, Berman & Wallace, to serve up an all-American inspired sizzling barbecue outdoors in the courtyard. It was the perfect blend of great food, a beautiful summer evening, bunting & balloons, live music and free wine & beer. Everyone was in good spirits and enjoyed themselves and asked to hold more of these! It was a great way to make the most of this great outdoor space.
Finally, we always have a full house at our regular Quiz Nights which we hold at a nearby pub for tenants. I have to say, the tenants on both sites are such good sports and always enter into our interactive experiences with great spirit and a sense of fun.
(SH): Sounds like two very busy business parks! How does the Platform help you communicate with your tenants?
(BD): The platform allows us to communicate seamlessly with all our tenants and it’s our central engagement point for keeping everyone up-to-date with our community news, building information (new policies, procedures, and measures in place in our buildings especially vital during Covid-19), development updates and important local services.
It’s a focal point where we direct tenants to find out information about all our onsite services, local transport, special retail offers and the array of events and activations we hold onsite. We send out weekly newsletters to ensure everyone is kept up to date with what's happening at both sites – and it also allows us to send out bespoke notifications when required e.g. traffic management updates, diversions, tenant news stories etc.
(SH): How has the Platform helped you to better understand your tenants?
(BD): It’s helped us to bring in the services and activities that our tenants most need. We carry out ongoing surveys through the platforms to help us improve our business parks by letting tenants have their say on the sorts of offerings and services would make their working lives better - from the food offerings they want, the onsite services they need, to the types of community events they prefer.
Behind the Platform, we have access to a range of analytical tools that help us identify what is working well at both sites, and we can monitor engagement rates in detail to better understand the content that members like, the competitions and giveaways that gain the most traction, and which events are most popular.
These insights help us steer and improve our ongoing engagement with tenants, as well as focus on key tenants to maximise their engagement and tenant satisfaction while working at our sites.
Written by Sarah Hudson and Barbara Dalton.
Special thank you to Barbara Dalton for your contribution to our Equiem Experience Experts blog series. If you are interested in featuring in our series, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for our next instalment in the Equiem Experience Experts series, and stay up to date with our latest news and information on our Linkedin and Twitter.