CrowdComfort was honored to be able to send some of our own down to Drexel University in Philadelphia to attend the 2022 CoreNet ERS. Thought leaders from all different facets of corporate real estate came together to look forward to the future of our physical spaces.
It was amazing to be surrounded by so many forward-thinking CRE professionals that are innovating in the design, technology, and utilization of our offices and facilities. This brilliant group of people are experimenting, learning, doing, and above all, just making it happen!
The changing needs of our workforce and real estate technology, and how to adapt to the dynamic world of CRE were hot topics at the event. In this blog, we wanted to identify four major themes we took away from CoreNet ERS.
We need to shift our focus to amenities, hospitality, and inclusion in the workplace.
The “great resignation” or the mass migration of the workforce that was catalyzed by the pandemic has created the need for ideas and solutions that will keep employees happy where they are working. Typical office amenities are great, but it’s not just about good coffee - it’s about providing daycare, parking, and overall, having a workplace that really “earns the worker’s commute.” Workers want increased understanding from their employers and to feel valued within their organizations. Having access to more amenities that will ease the transition back to some form of in-person work will incentivize employees to return to the office which is a great outcome for corporate real estate stakeholders. Being a part of an office with a completely human-centric approach will increase productivity, satisfaction, and employee retention.
Highlighted speaker Larry Charlip from TakeTwo emphasized the continued trend of hospitality influencing the workplace in his panel around mass migration of the workforce titled “The Flight to Quality”. Jerry stated that in a commoditized space such as offices and commercial real estate, it is the service platform that makes the difference. He sees landlords moving to bring more services such as building service, programming, and janitorial in-house and away from the integrated facilities management model added.
Diversity is also extremely important to make employees feel accepted and empowered in the workplace. Angela Cooper-Robinson, Clint Grimes, Don Watson and Pay Wu provided incredible insights about Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) on their panel discussing operationalizing real estate and facilities & corporate services providers' commitments to supplier diversity. A diversity of opinions, education, and backgrounds helps workplaces avoid group thinking and generally leads to better business outcomes, higher profits, and more fun at the office. The evidence has been irrefutable for over a decade, too. Diversity isn't only a societal good, it's good business.
Technology in our physical spaces can also be used to elevate DEI in the workplace. Attendee Lea Anne Mollineaux highlighted the evidence that meetings taking place over VR/AR technologies can show a better balance of speaking time for men and women, with women speaking more often in the metaverse in comparison to standard meeting enviroments. This technology can be a way to ensure fairness and visibility for all parties.
Technology driving better decision-making in CRE.
The changing atmosphere of the office in this new era of hybrid and remote working models calls for the use of innovative technology to create a cohesive environment. It’s not physical spaces or virtual spaces, but both in tandem to ensure a flexible and foolproof office space. We also still need and want physical spaces to meet, and work in tandem with technology. VR/AR is not going away. In some way shape or form, it will be part of our lives going forward to the future.
In speaking with attendees, we also heard a lot about the influx of data that is being made available in the built world. Almost too much. Many CRE leaders we spoke with are looking for ways to better combine and integrate data to make decisions around items like occupancy-based cleaning, space utilization CRE purchasing, and other data forward strategies.
Amanda Carrol, Paul Darrah, Jenna Geigerman, Jake Herway, Peter Miscovich, and Michelle Sipics came together in an exceptional panel, “Shaping Spaces for the Future of Work”.
Jenna Geigerman had the highlight quote of the panel urging attendees to evaluate technology purpose built to solve their challenges vs. building your own saying no “do your own” when it comes to workplace technology as there are experts that excel at this while CRE teams excel at the operations.
Agility and flexibility are the future of corporate real estate.
Corporate real estate needs to adapt to the changing sentiment of not only executive leadership but also individual clients and occupiers. Flexibility in this aspect is extremely important as the landscape is expected to continue changing, facing a potential global recession as well as experiencing unprecedented demands from workers on where and how they each work are just some of the things pushing this shift.
Moderated by Paul Garvey from Cushman & Wakefield, the UCity Tour of Drexel University at the beginning of the summit discussed the changing needs of students, life science companies, and how to cater to the next generation of medical researchers. Small and flexible spaces are at least one piece of the puzzle! Research and polling are key to navigating this dynamic infrastructure.
Don’t take yourself too seriously, remember on the journey and embrace the community.
There is nothing wrong with not knowing your direction yet! At the summit, there were senior leaders who wanted to engage in conversations with people who are fresh out of college despite the difference in their positions. These leaders can remember what it was like when they were 23 years old and trying to figure it all out and are eager to give guidance in hindsight.
Getting a few hundred leading minds together in any industry is bound to lead to meaningful and innovative conversation. Not only was the summit informative but it was also fun as these folks work very hard and play hard. Leaders from DC, NYC, Boston, Philly, Charlotte, and everywhere in between were featured. These are the people who represent offices where millions of Americans across state borders work, and they are the ones who are paving the way for new ways of working and existing in the physical corporate world.
The CoreNet community is incredible to be a part of. Every members insights, expertise, and ideas always lead to a fun insightful converstaion. We are looking forward to CoreNet Global in Chicago in November to continue innovate and learn!