Condeco hosted a CoreNet NorCal Technology SIG event focused on building a 'Smart Office'. The event featured an insightful panel of guests, including Eric Nelson, head of real estate and experience (North America and Europe) at Atlassian, Felix Suarez, IT Manager at a global investment banking firm, and Michele Ferreira, general manager at One Workplace. The panel was moderated by our own Spencer Hsu at the innovative One Workplace Santa Clara, with an audience of highly-engaged real estate technology experts.
The conversation focused on how global companies are using workspace data to build efficient and smart workspaces while trying to foster an envionment that attracts and retains talent.
The need for real-time workspace utilization data was definitely reaffirmed. Michele of One Workplace touched on how it helped her deal with the growing pains of moving into an “open” setting, whereas Eric noted that, with Atlassian doubling in growth every year for past 12 years, the level of constant change has demanded a solution that quantifies employees’ space needs in near-to-real-time.
Another theme that arose was around the convergence of departments when it comes to designing an effective workplace. Having both an IT manager and a Real Estate leader on the panel, we took the opportunity to ask how they have dealt with working together on projects and how they see things changing. Eric noted that, at Atlassian, the two roles are combining into a shared service, merging into what they call a “workplace technology team.” With apologies to Felix, he commented that IT does not have as much experience as those on the corporate side in terms of internal communications:
“You need that holistic view … IT doesn’t think about how you communicate how to roll things out. I think how you roll out, how you communicate it, how you train people on it - that’s almost as important as the technology itself. If you roll it out poorly and communicate like crap and it’s the best technology since sliced bread, [employees] won’t care!”
Felix described how, at his company, corporate real estate and corporate services have now involved the IT team in their interactions with workplace technology vendors. He does not report to those teams directly, but does support their efforts.
Through this discussion it became clear just how closely IT and Real Estate groups need to work together to be successful.
The conversation closed with Spencer reiterating how workplace happiness and employee retention is dependent on a combined focus from all ends of the business (HR, IT, Technology, real estate, furnishings, construction and others) on experience. As he pointed out, companies are on a mission to keep their employees happy and to encourage them to “stick around!” The panelists agreed.