Amanda Carroll, IIDA, Principal and Technology Practice Area Leader at Gensler was a splendid moderator for a panel on the future of the workplace. The panelists included Phil Kirschner, Senior Vice President in the JLL Consulting Group and leader of the Workplace Strategy practice for the Northeast; John Arenas, Chief Executive Officer, Serendipity Labs, an upscale national coworking brand with both suburban and urban locations; Anne Bergman, Director, Design Strategy and Construction Services at American Express, where she leads BlueWork, Amex’s flexible workplace program; and Josh Wise, Director of Facilities at Etsy with their newly completed Living Building in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Amanda asked the panel to discuss the concept of the new workplace as a hospitality facility required to respond to the needs of savvy, connected customers. “The corporate office is going to be an experience,” Phil said. Josh mentioned the importance of concierge skill sets and capacities from operations staff. Phil said he is now tasked with solving productivity problems in the workplace. Amanda spoke about the ubiquitous nature of technology in our lives. John said, “Everyone is a gig worker” and shopping for their workplace. Anne replied that technologists are no different from the rest of the work force and that new work solutions will serve for all types of workers, every banking product is in fact a technology product. Talent wants to go where they believe in the mission of the business, Amanda said. And Phil talked about younger workers aligning with companies that are “doing good” and have a strong purpose, but then “surprise—you’re a real company” and they have to compete with many others.
John said that business analysts on the outside can now see into the workings of firms and understand who has too much real estate. Though corporations think they are solving workplace problems, it is actually the landlords and real estate that is driving the solutions. Josh said Etsy doesn’t want their employees in an all enclosing environment until they leave for the night; Etsy needs to source goods from the surrounding community and also get their employees outside and making these connections. Talent wants to go where they believe in the mission of the business, Amanda said. Brand is about choice and value, said John, and Serendipity Lab members want to be associated with firms that are authentic and live up to their promises.
The new workplace is not static, but constantly being tweaked and shifted pointed out Anne. Phil said that building performance data must be used to run workspaces efficiently. The rules need to change—there can’t be questions such as is it a furniture, tech or electrical issue?—rather, these all need to flow together. Josh said it’s important to use your own team to study and collect data on your building systems and discover who your “office hackers” are! John said. Serendipity moves forward because their users invent and cause innovation in use of the space, so a continuous refresh is budgeted to keep up.
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