Future Offices Winter 2020 Main Conference Day One Recap


8:45 AM 

Main conference day one of Future Offices Winter kicked off with a Power Panel on the “State of the Market: What is on the Horizon for Corporate Real Estate?” featuring:

  • Nick LiVigne, Head of Product, Convene
  • Sara Baldi, Global Head of Real Estate and Workplace, Cruise
  • Alejandro Rivero, Director of Corporate Real Estate, Samsung
  • Sheena Gohil, Senior Managing Director, Colliers
  • Richard Smith, Founder & CEO, Office Freedom
  • AJ Greulich, Head of Workplace and Real Estate, US & Canada Geo Lead, Uber
  • Moderator: Aaron Friedman Vice President of Operations Fifth Gen Media, Publisher of Connected Real Estate

The nature of work is changing and so is real estate. As Alejandro Rivero noted, “In the past, real estate was something  companies wanted to scale down. Now they’re weaponizing it by using real estate to increase productivity and retention.” 

According to a recent survey by Convene, 60% of the workforce considers health and wellness facilities a must have. However, how do companies extend these world-class amenities to their smaller satellites offices. Also, as millennials age, start having families and, inevitably, move to the suburbs, how can companies extend these HQ amenities to your smaller satellite offices. Well, one option is co-working. In fact, companies are even starting to leverage co-working for large-scale CRE projects. 

In addition to providing the shared amenities typically offered only in urban areas, co-working can also be the more cost-effective option. According to Richard Smith Founder & CEO Office Freedom, the total cost of ownership in NYC is $23K per head per year in NYC whereas co-working typically runs around $15-16K.

However, many in the panel cited technology integration as a major inhibitor to co-working. At least for now, many companies are still skeptical as to whether or no co-working providers can provide the IT security, internet speed, AV equipment, etc. needed for them to fully buy-in. 

"At Uber we offer our employees a lot of options. We have quiet heads-down space as well as 'neighborhoods' designed for specific tasks. We also have 1 video conference room for every 10 employees and 150 sqft per employee." - AJ Greulich, Head of Workplace and Real Estate, US & Canada Geo Lead, Uber

"Using our new neighborhood model we went from doing 900 moves per 1,000 employees to 200 moves per 1,700 employees" -Sara Baldi Global Head of Real Estate and Workplace Cruise

"Commercial real estate has become more institutional since the emergence of coworking which is a good thing.”  -Sheena Gohil Senior Managing Director Colliers

9:30 AM

Ever heard of the “Future Fit Enterprise”? Conceptualized by JLL, the Future Fit Enterprise is embodies the following characteristics:

  • View service providers as equal partners
  • Collaborate extensively with partners
  • Innovation core part of service delivery
  • Clear governance process
  • Incentives to motivate continuous innovation
  • Invest in sophisticated technologies and systems
  • Build in flexibility to changing demands and needs
  • Comprehensively reorganize internal CRE function
  • Actively manage relationship

How do you get these things done and show their value? Data. However, the industry needs more standards for data integration. Organizations such as OSCRE are leading the way in this pursuit. 

Other highlights of this session led by Eddy Wagoner, Global Chief Information Officer of JLL and Michael Gresty, Vice President of Workplace Analytics of FM:Systems, include:

  • On average, individual seating only experiences 30-40% utilization so roughly half of most companies’ real estate spend is going towards empty desks
  • Will tech make offices obsolete? We’re certainly reaching a tipping point

11:10 AM

Joyce Bromberg, Chief Design Officer, Convene talks about the latest disruptive trends that will shape workplace design over the next decade and how to make sure you don't get left behind.


It’s the age old question - Robotics how do you more with less or more with the same? Automation is almost always the answer.

Brady Watkins, Head of Commercial Automation SoftBank Robotics America, shares how by simply installing an automated robot vacuum, companies can reduce overall operating expenses by 11% in 30 days. Other benefits:

  • Elevating workplace standards
  • Redirect resources & productivity
  • Retention & recruitment


Gavin Hughes Daniels, Co-Founding Principal of Wingate Hughes, talks about their company's core values:

  • Start everyday believing that people are good
  • Get better everyday compared to no one but yourself
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say and believe others do the same

Embracing these key values are essential for building spaces that promote optimism.

“Data is your people! You need to know how it’s being used.” 

11:35 AM

“The New Green is Machine” - the green revolution will be powered by AI, machine learning and RPA. In this presentation, Brady Watkins, the Head of Commercial Automation at SoftBank Robotics America, explains how your next secret weapon for employee engagement and operational efficiency could be a robotic vacuum cleaner. 

A fully autonomous vacuum sweeper, the Whiz has been proven to reduce overall operational costs by upwards of 11%. Why? Because vacuuming accounts for roughly 30% of janitorial costs. Other benefits of the Whiz include:

  • Enables elevated workplace standards
  • Redirect resources & productivity - transform your janitorial team into managed service providers
  • Retention & recruitment - Most companies have 200% turnover in cleaning positions. The Whiz will allow your workers to re-focus their attention on more rewarding work

12:30 PM

Drew Suszko, Lead Strategist | Architect, BHDP and Valerie Garrett, Director of Workplace Design, Fifth Third Bank talk about how the modern workplace is no longer centered around efficiency, but employee experience.

Valerie Garrett, a Future Offices veteran speaker, shared quite a few pearls of wisdom:

“Experience is not a disposable trend. It’s also more than food and coffee. Experience is culture.”
"What do I think about the future of office design? Everyone seems to be talking about human-centered design, however, there’s a lot about ‘human-centered’ design that doesn’t seem so human to me. So, looking towards the future, I hope there is a groundswell of recognition that we’re doing this for humans and human beings have basic needs: connection, belonging and feeling valued”
“Open offices get a bad rap. However, those articles aren’t written about spaces with good proxemics. If you’re creating a cubicle bank then, yeah, your open office won’t work. You have to have a balance of open and private, quiet spaces.”

2:25 PM

PWC's Katherine Huh, Advisory Real Estate Director, and Sid Bhatia, Director of Workforce of the Future, lead an in-depth discussion on "Place, Space, and Speed: Balancing Corporate Real Estate Costs and Executing Project Delivery." 

4:46 PM

Everyone is talking about "coworking" but what does it actually mean? As one especially astute conference attendee quipped, "Coworking is like sex. Everyone has a different definition." So we turned to the experts to demystify coworking in our closing panel featuring:

  • Alejandro Rivero Director of Corporate Real Estate Samsung
  • Larry Charlip VP, Facilities Management & Corporate Real Estate Take-Two Interactive
  • Michael Berretta Vice President Network Development, Americs IWG
  • Moderator: Frank D. Cottle, Chairman & CEO, Alliance Business Centers Companies