The Collaboration Space

Back to Work 2021 with CBRE

January 06, 2021 AVI-SPL Digital Workplace Services Provider Season 2 Episode 1
The Collaboration Space
Back to Work 2021 with CBRE
Show Notes Transcript

CBRE | SiteREADY Senior Director Rick Mullins  joins Nancy and Anthony in The Collaboration Space to discuss companies' plans to reopen their offices. Mullins shares customer feedback regarding what the hybrid workplace may look like in 2021, and thoughts on evaluating lease renewals.

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Welcome to the collaboration space, pull up a chair in our virtual conference room as we share ideas on how you can create an engaging and productive digital workplace. Join Avi SPL hosts Nancy Lussier and Anthony Salveggi, along with expert guests, as we chat about fostering collaboration in the office and online through video conferencing.

Well, welcome back everyone to the collaboration space. I'm Nancy Lussier, and with me is my co host, Anthony Salveggi, also of AVI-SPL, how are you doing today, Anthony?

Great to be here, Nancy, how are you? I'm doing good. And we also have a special guest with us today, we have Rick Mullins, who is a senior director at CBRE SiteREADY. And, Rick, thanks for joining us today. 

Thank you, Nancy. Anthony, it's great to be here. 

You know, Rick, we asked you to join us today, because we're hearing a lot that people are going back into the office, they may have gone back on maybe a reduced schedule, or a rotating schedule, you know, we need to accommodate for social distancing. The good news, actually, that we've heard today, we're recording in December 2020, is that the COVID-19 vaccine is starting to go out today. So that may change everyone's outlook on going back to the office. And some of the things that I've heard from people with myself included is that I kind of like working from home. I don't have the commute, and we are productive. But Rick, I was wondering what you're hearing from customers? Are they wanting to stay home? Or are you hearing that people do want to go back to the office? 

Yeah, it's been very interesting to listen to our clients and watch what's happening in the market in this place. We've heard all kinds of numbers from 35 to 40%, work from home moving forward down to 18%. And I think what we're seeing are people are realizing that there's a productivity at home, there's flexibility at home. But there is that loss of connectivity and creativity, and the productivity that we experienced while we're in the office, it's sometimes difficult to meet from working remotely. So our clients originally were looking to quickly find solutions for a fuller, more robust, remote workforce. 

And after looking at their needs, short term and long term, they really are stepping into kind of a three phased approach to this, they want to keep the flexibility, the mobility, because it's a cost effective aspect of their business, it also increases the ability to recruit and retain more so than if you were in a brick and mortar building. But what they're doing now is looking at a realization that they're always going to have a mobile workforce, it's going to grow, it's going to be more robust. 

But the 75%, or whatever that that other percentages that are going back into the office, they have to have a plan, they have to have an approach for addressing returning to the office. And at first it was Let's get him into the office. And let's get them back to work. And now what we're seeing our clients look at is really more of a three phased approach. And this is what we're consulting with him on. 

One, how do you get them back in the office? How do you create safety? How do you create connectivity? How do you make sure that what they've experienced at home, from ease connectivity, just as clicking on a button on our laptop, that they had that same experience in the office, but making those decisions on solutions, devices, infrastructure applications, has to be more forward thinking. And so the second phase is we want to get them back. We want them to be safe, we want them to have a good user experience. But then we need to position ourselves for a market that's going to stay and grow in this space. So it's not just getting them in and making them feel safe. It's getting them in making them feel safe and growing into what is now becoming the new normal. 

That virtual connectivity, that constant connectivity, that same experience in and out of the workplace. Those are longer term discussions. The clients are now looking beyond just getting their staff back into the workplace. They're looking to how do we step into this from a growth perspective? What's our strategy for bringing people back to the office safe well being? But how do we move into what we now see as the new normal of virtual connectivity, constant connectivity, and the pace that technology is now taking, how do we strategize and roadmap into that? And then the third phase of that is, okay, we've got to do some deployment, whether it's upgrading our infrastructure, whether it's deciding on overall solutions, any one of those things

But then making that deployment decision and capital investment into the longer term positioning. Okay, if we could chat a little bit, Rick about when we talk about getting back to the office, right, we know we have social distancing that we're going to need to do, are you hearing from customers that they're going to need to reconfigure some of their spaces? Absolutely. And interestingly enough, the flexible or open workspace kind of started into the industry in the commercial industry office space, about 6, 7, 8 years ago or so. 

And then there were some studies and some responses that came back and said, We don't really like this people aren't as productive. And I find it interesting that we're now having to go back and rethink how we position ourselves physically, in the workspace. Flexibility is going to be the key. Some things like modular offices, and breakaway walls were things that were talked about, but not things that were seriously considered. Now we're looking at those mobile carts with displays on them with wireless connectivity, so we can move it wherever it needs to be. Those kinds of things are now seriously being looked at, not only by our clients, but as I talked to some of our architectural firms we deal with, they are addressing these things as well. 

So it sounds like we're kind of accelerating the Technology Roadmap, like these things may have been on everybody's radar. And maybe they were already doing them a little bit. But now, it's going to be full force with with updating the technology into as you said, this, this new normal.

Absolutely, to me, that's the fun and scary part of this, because I live in the technology space, I love to see the innovative hit the street. The other side of that is if it hits it too quickly, or if too many of them hit before it's matured, we could find ourselves in a very confusing place making decisions on product and devices that really aren't going to pay us back what we thought they were. But that's foresight ready comes in. That's what my team does is we work with our clients to evaluate, what is the real value here? What's the payback? And how does it? How does it benefit you short term and long term. But it has been exciting to see everything from the basic sensors that we talked about to augmented reality to extended reality even even we laugh about this a little bit. But even the holographic solutions have just made a quantum jump into getting themselves closer to deployable, marketable product. 

Rick, as part of that three phased approach that you were talking about to get people back in the office, are you seeing a renewed interest in smart building technology? 

Absolutely. And I think it's a combination of renewed as well as intensified, there have been a few of us who have always been in it and watching it. But what we're seeing now is obviously a greater need for the technologies, because of things like occupancy and safety and security and well being and so on. But we're now looking at it moving from just the smart building or building manager into the work space.

 Now we have tenants occupiers who maybe even aren't even an anchor tenant in a building, who need that kind of technology, to increase their efficiency to understand traffic flow in their space to know how many times rooms are used. So they can continually reconfigure as needed to get the most use and value out of their square foot, I think what we're going to be seeing is, we're going to see some vendors come to the table, with the holy grail of a single pane of glass, I'm seeing a few. But I don't think it's mature enough yet.

 But that's going to be the thing that brings together all these disparate fragmented devices into one pane where a client or a customer where a lease owner, or even a building owner can see with a flip of a finger like an eye on an iPad, how things are operating how well they're operating. And what's happening now is it's moving beyond just the monitoring just a data output into proactive maintenance and preventive maintenance. 

We're no longer Something has to break down. And then our building engineer has to call a vendor who has to order a part then has to be shipped. And then we have to schedule the installation. Now we're seeing technologies that are auto feeds to vendors, hey, this is getting ready to break down or we're having some issues with it or it's going out of life. And it's an automatic system that refills the shelf if you will, without the extensive manpower involved. So when you talk about smart building, it truly is getting smarter in the overall sense of things and it's going to apply to buildings as well as workspace that's interesting.

So in light of the new technology and services that are going to that will be coming online and that are available to companies, what are you what feedback to see up CBR we have regarding lease renewals for their for their commercial real estate?

As you can imagine, we're constantly monitoring the situation and interviewing and surveying our clients and following the market very closely, it's going to be a case by case situation, obviously, we would never tell our clients what they should or shouldn't do, we're going to help them evaluate the market where they are and what their needs are. 

But what we're seeing what we're hearing is that it's going to be a slow return to that full office situation, some about 71% of one survey group said, they're not intending to get their people back into the office full time, until at least a year from now. So when you think about the delayed capacity refill, it makes sense for clients to start thinking about, do I need to make a decision now? Or is this something I can defer, we are looking and hearing from our clients saying that that's probably going to be the decision is deferring that decision, instead of making a decision now, that doesn't have all the information of what we're going to see in the next quarter or two. 

And the other side of that, too, is when you make a decision about your lease, and you are making the decision about where you are but how much you have as well as how its configured. So stepping back and understanding what the aftermath is hear from the pandemic. And I think even more importantly, what technologies and work pattern and culture are we going to be seeing, you need that information to make a solid longer term decision on your lease. And so appropriately, clients are deferring, waiting, assessing, and we're spending time with them in that period of waiting and assessing, to look at those technologies to look at that layout to look at configurable space.

 And I think that we're gonna see them begin to make those decisions on what they want to do. Probably according to our research, the latter part of 2021, maybe the fourth quarter, you'll start seeing those decisions come to fruition at that point in time. 

Well, that's about all for today. I want to thank my co host Anthony Salveggi and our special guest, Rick Mullins from CBRE SiteREADY. Rick, if somebody wanted to learn more about site ready, is there somewhere there should go, a website? 

Absolutely. You can find us at CBRE dash site Or just go to CBRE's website. And we're under workplace technologies, and it's very easy to find. 

Perfect, thank you for all the great information and for sharing that with us today and the customer feedback.

Absolutely. Nancy, Anthony. It was a pleasure and it was a pleasure to meet you. 

Same here. Thank you. Perfect. 

That's all for today. We'll see you next time in the collaboration space.

Thank you for listening to our latest episode, don't forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. We'll see you next time in the collaboration space. Until we meet again you can connect with us online. Our Twitter handle is at AVISPLinfo and you'll also find us on LinkedIn and