What I Learned in Vegas - Workplace

It's been over a month since my last post.  I've missed you all!  Since my last posting, I have been to Las Vegas twice on business; once for the North America CBRE conference and once for the CoreNet Summit. During my trips, I was lucky enough to participate in a number of great break-out sessions and came away with new insights on three topics that I have and will continue to blog about: Workplace, Technology, and Why Tenants Lease Space.

"Workplace" has been a key buzzword in the industry for years and continues to be all the rage.  At both conferences, there were sessions on the changing workforce and how office space design needs to accommodate these changes.

The most interesting session on the topic focused on the new CBRE offices in Downtown L.A..  Georgia Collins, Managing Director of CBRE's Workplace Strategies Group gave an overview of why workplace design is important as companies move forward.  Some key observations:

- One strategy doesn't fit all.

- Workplace is about people and performance, not cost savings.

- People come to the office to see other people.  One of the keys to a good workplace solution is connecting people to people and people to information.

- Density forces people to work together.  Food helps people collaborate.

- Space needs to evolve over time, especially as technology continues to change at such a rapid pace.

- Most companies are at 50% utilization of space.

- A "green" workplace will promote health and well being, leading to greater productivity.  If people aren't sick as often, they will be more productive.

After Georgia's discussion, Lew Horne and Steve Bay joined her on stage to talk about the new Downtown L.A. office which recently moved in to new space where no one has an assigned workstation or office.  It is all free address and is also referred to as "untethered".  Teams can work in neighborhoods, but everyone has to clear their workspace at the end of the day and put their belongings in a locker, as that space may not be theirs the next day.  People can also choose to work in the "heart" of the office, near the entrance, which resembles a cafe with couches and less traditional work spaces.

Lew discussed the planning process and how he engaged key people in the office.  He knew that a radical change was not going to work unless he had buy-in from top producers and leaders.  Our Amsterdam office had already adopted a free address model and he took stakeholders to see that space, how it worked, and encouraged them to talk to their peers in that office.  Everyone came away with the same impression: it works.

Now that the office is open, it is getting rave reviews, not only from those who work there, but from the industry as well.  Steve Bay talked about being more in-tune with his team in the new space.  He didn't mind giving up his office because he believes that this space will help him better serve his clients.  The space was so well received, our corporate headquarters decided to move there as well.

Lew encouraged anyone in the session to come to LA for a visit, which I am doing in two weeks.  Once I see it for myself, I will report back.  You may recall a previous blog post, They're Coming To Take My Office, which concluded with me stating that I would be open to giving it up if given a compelling reason.  It seems they might have one.  If it will make me better at my job, I will move tomorrow.

JN