The NYC commercial real estate space is one of the latest to become consumed by the TAMI vs. FIRE debate that has gripped the CRE world for years now. While FIRE tenants have long supported New York City and ruled the commercial real estate spaces, current shifts are positioning TAMI companies as the most desirable tenants.
That’s not to say that FIRE businesses are going away, but it is changing how office spaces look and the sort of amenities that owners are offering to tenants.
Let’s explore further.
TAMI stands for technology, advertising, media, and information and describes commercial businesses in these sectors. FIRE, on the other hand, are financial, insurance, real estate, and legal organizations.
The long-held standard was that FIRE tenants were the more appealing option over TAMI companies. Why? Reliability. Businesses in the FIRE sectors are much more stable and tend to last longer, especially when you consider the volatility of many tech startups. Property owners want tenants that expect to stay for years to come.
In the last decade, however, there has been a notable shift. We are well into the Digital Age, and it is the TAMI sector that is driving the economy forward. Sure, startup companies will still carry some level of risk for commercial property owners. But, it’s this same type of company that also attracts the most attention from venture capitalists.
With significant support from investors (over $100 billion in 2019), the TAMI industry is backed by some serious dough. This money is outweighing the risks mentioned above and causing property owners to jump at the opportunity to rent to TAMI companies.
For the CRE space, this shift doesn’t just change who is renting, but what prospective tenants find favorable from an office space. If you picture an office space in your head, it’s the traditional labyrinth of cubicles in the middle, with more private offices and meeting spaces lining the exterior.
This design is over a century old. It’s built around a concept that private office space is a status symbol that showcases superiority and success. The cubicles themselves are also based on a now-dated principle that keeping employees separated will reduce chatter and thereby improve productivity.
That traditional layout isn’t what TAMI companies look for. These companies prefer to conduct business without cubicle dividers and walls separating every employee. These companies run on business philosophies that suggest happy, social employees work more efficiently, even if some of their at-work time is spent on socializing and having fun.
Thus, the TAMI sector looks for modern, green, open, and amenity-rich office spaces. TAMI employees are also younger and extremely social creatures that choose collaboration over separation. They expect the companies they work for to offer this type of environment.
This is evidenced by a steadily building increase in leasing activity for 4- and 5-star office spaces. From 2016 to 2017, 60% of new leases were for these higher-quality spaces, despite representing a minority of the available spaces. These Class-A buildings are known for aesthetics, locations, management services, and other on-site amenities —the exact profile that TAMI companies are looking for.
In short, yes, it matters! TAMI tenants are willing to spend more and stay longer when on-site amenities are being offered and improved upon.
‘Amenities’ is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of stuff that a building can offer to commercial tenants. In this case, we’re talking about tangible on-site services, as well as intangibles. Even the building’s “vibe” can be a selling point to TAMI tenants.
Understanding what exactly TAMI companies look for can help you prepare your own commercial spaces to attract this very desirable type of tenant.
At the top of every TAMI tenant’s wishlist for their office space is connectivity. All of the companies in this sector are tech-forward and require consistently strong Internet connections. In one report, 90% of leasing decision-makers put Internet connectivity as a crucial factor for evaluation of new office space. This must be a priority in your commercial real estate spaces!
TAMI employees are always on-the-go. It is an extremely mobile workforce, which is why many of these companies are still managing to thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees are used to working from home on their couch, which means they want flexible office layouts that can house traditional desks, chairs, and meeting spaces, but also comfortable lounges and standing desks.
The majority of TAMI tenants and their employees are younger and environmentally-conscious people that expect office spaces to have proper energy efficiency and responsible waste management services. Building-wide recycling programs are also a must.
TAMI employees are notably more concerned about their diets and lifestyle choices. Commercial real estate spaces that offer on-site fitness services and healthy food choices appeal to these tenants. If you can’t provide on-site food services, you should include a list of nearby, healthy food choices in your marketing materials.
More and more offices are looking to bring fun into the workspace, which means pool tables, foosball, air hockey, video games, and other sources of entertainment. Most of these amenities the FIRE workforce would find counterproductive, but TAMI companies find it essential for employees to have leisure in their work schedules.
Fluorescent office lighting has reigned supreme for almost as long as the cubicle. Now, they are starting to disappear entirely, especially in TAMI offices. These companies prefer softer, natural lighting, and so do their employees. Replacing harsher fluorescents with softer lights can be a selling point.
The TAMI index has been evolving and taking over the city. With Amazon, Facebook, Google, and many other titans of tech securing large office spaces in New York City, the FIRE sector is no longer the typical, or even the desired, commercial tenant.
Now that TAMI companies are the major player in the NYC commercial real estate space, we need to continue to adapt to the needs of these tenants, and that means shaking the traditional mold of what an “office” needs to look like.