Inside CRE Tech • Episode 6.1

What Is Workplace As A Service?

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Top CRE executives discuss workplace as a service.

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Video Transcript:

Hussain Ali-Khan, Global Alliance Director, CBRE

Workplace as a service is the ability to use workplace when you need it, and not necessarily have to own it.

Tama Huang, Chief Innovation Officer, CohnReznick

Is it workplace as a service or is it workplace as an experience?

Adam Stoltz, National Director, Consulting Services - Transwestern

Workplace as a service has emerged as a sort of series of components that in a way take a lot of the decision making for how much space do you need, how are you going to operate and use it, and for what period of time are you going to need it, and bundled it into an experience that is much more hospitality and service driven.

Kent Tarrach, VP, Asset Management & Global Corporate Development, Brookfield

Workplace as a service is the concept of removing the day to day functions of an office space from the responsibility of a tenant, and taking those on as a as a landlord.

Gabrielle Rubin Deveaux, Global Real Estate & Facilities, Buzzfeed

Basically, you're faced with do you want to build out a space or do you want to have someone else do the work for you.

John Gilbert, EVP, COO, CTO, Rudin Management

My definition of workplace as a service is two things: one it's space that’s very flexible, that can take large customers, small customers that can allow smaller companies to grow into bigger companies, and then have that has a very robust technology overlay on top, that's grabbing the data coming out of that space and then ultimately delivering services and comfort that people deserve and expect.

Hussain Ali-Khan, Global Alliance Director, CBRE

You could say that's like renting, but it's like renting a car as opposed to renting an apartment, right, or perhaps using an Uber instead of renting a car. So I think the transportation industry is way down the road on this stuff and the real estate industry is catching up primarily because of the vast capital investment that already exists. The legacy investment in real estate, you know, tends to prefer a different type of model. The more traditional model.

John Gilbert, EVP, COO, CTO, Rudin Management

To me it's all about flexibility. It's all about community. It's all about ultimately having a base level of service so that I as a small startup don't have to go out and create myself, it's already there on the floor, that I can use. And then ultimately, it's about an ecosystem of, “Hey, I'm not big enough to have a marketing department” but, “Jesus there's a company just down the hallway that does marketing, bingo. I can go work then. There's somebody who does graphic design, boom, I can go, you know, use them as a service and ultimately allow me to focus on what I should be focusing on which is my core business.

Tama Huang, Chief Innovation Officer, CohnReznick

So you're starting to meet a demand in the market with an abundance of supply and we haven't quite figured out yet what is that supply. Is it just space or is it, you know, does it include amenities like you know copiers, and bandwidth, and all the pieces that go along with it, physical security, cybersecurity is associated with the space that you're in and where you're working. So I think that as a as an industry we're still grappling with what is a truly that we're offering…

Hussain Ali-Khan, Global Alliance Director, CBRE

But as smaller companies figured out early that something like WeWork or Industrious could satisfy their needs without requiring them to make an enormous investment. Then they started taking advantage of those things. And so what's happened since is that big companies have figured out that oh well do I really need to own real estate? Is there a way that I can take advantage of some of these workplace as a service such that I get the same productivity and amenities and employee experience? But I don't necessarily have to put out all the capital.

Gabrielle Rubin Deveaux, Global Real Estate & Facilities, Buzzfeed

And it's interesting because I think the biggest fear for everybody is to attach themselves to a 10 year lease. That's a lot of money to put out of pocket and it's so hard to predict where your company is going to be in a few years let alone 10 years down the line. How much space do you need and that's a lot of money to put up front. private back in the dock.

Hussain Ali-Khan, Global Alliance Director, CBRE

Back in the dot.com, the early dot.com era, people would raise capital and they would basically buy two things: they would buy workplace and they would buy datacenter. As a result of cloud computing, nobody buys datacenter anymore except the datacenter operators right. Except the cloud. Now, we're addressing the issue that you actually need to buy workplace and if you can use workplace as a service, why wouldn’t you?

Adam Stoltz, National Director, Consulting Services - Transwestern

It's taken the responsibility for the operations, facility sort of management and operations of the workplace as well, and also bundle that in the way it says you do your business best. Allow us, in a service driven capacity, to do workplace best to provide that in a better way for you.

Kent Tarrach, VP, Asset Management & Global Corporate Development, Brookfield

And the idea is that doing this allow increases the flexibility for tenants to utilize their space, they can increase their flexibility in how they program for that, and they can focus on kind of what they're experts at, rather than spending more time and having additional resources on managing the real estate. So they if they offload that to us, they can be more efficient and how they generate their revenue.


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