Courtesy of Michael Smerconish
Radio host, television personality and bestselling author Michael Smerconish will deliver the Sunday keynote at the 2024 BOMA International Conference & Expo.

Back to Buildings: How Commercial Real Estate Can Help Heal the Political Divide (BOMA 2024 Preview)

May 15, 2024
How did the United States become so polarized—and what can building owners and managers do about it? Michael Smerconish, a radio host, TV personality and author, will tackle this thorny topic at the 2024 BOMA International Conference & Expo.

How have Americans become so divided from each other—and how can commercial real estate professionals help heal the divide?

Technology has enabled people to self-sort to an immense degree, according to Michael Smerconish. The celebrated radio host, television personality and bestselling author will deliver a keynote address on Sunday, July 14 at the 2024 BOMA International Conference & Expo that promises solutions for overcoming this polarization and finding greater understanding and cooperation. “Self-sorting means that we are choosing to live among and associate with the like-minded, and technology has been a huge accelerant in that regard,” he explained.

Essentially, it has become much easier to live in an echo chamber where we only hear information that reinforces our existing views. Commercial real estate can’t solve this long-term trend overnight—but it can play a critical role in bringing people back together.

How? Buildings create a destination and encourage people to mix. Increasing office utilization isn’t just important for the companies that own office buildings—getting people to talk to each other in those buildings is crucial for the mental health of individual employees and the gradual improvement of society.

“What we have to do is convince society, employers and businesses that there’s this added intangible when we’re having a debate about whether it’s OK to be remote and how much,” Smerconish said. “The more we are out of those buildings, the less socialization, learning and mentorship is taking place.”

Property professionals have an individual role to play in bringing society together too, Smerconish said. He recommended two strategies to help heal the divide and find common ground with others:

  1. Change the channel. “You need to mix up your media diet,” he recommended. “Too many people are hunkered down in silos that meet their partisan objective. We’ve become a world where some are all MSNBC and Slate and Salon, and some are all Fox News and terrestrial talk radio. I want people to do what I do, which is use that remote, change the channel and balance your diet.”
  2. Join something. “Be part of an affinity organization,” he urged. “Participate in a bowling league. Go to a library—they still exist. We’ve just got to get out and associate with individuals who don’t look and think like we do.”

“It’s time to mingle. It’s time to get out and do the things our grandparents did. They were joiners,” Smerconish added. “Whatever the new millennium, 2024 version is of where we go to be exposed to folks in our community who we might not know, we’ve got to find it.”

Still need to register for the 2024 BOMA International Conference & Expo? There’s still time to reserve your spot!

About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with a special emphasis on covering facilities management. She aims to deliver practical, actionable content for facilities professionals.

About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with a special emphasis on covering facilities management. She aims to deliver practical, actionable content for facilities professionals.

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