Workshop, Future Offices University & Site Tour Day Live Blog


9:00 AM

We kicked off workshop day with a short welcome address from Nick Livigne, Head of Product, Convene. Key themes of the day? The role of technology in workplace design, the rise of hospitality in the workplace, sustainability and flexible office design.

9:15 AM

To kick off our Future Offices University, Don Watson, Merck’s VP Global Workplace and Enterprise Services, shared how Merck built a world-class global real estate team. Best practices for doing this include:

  • Improve everyday interactions - Understand fears, hopes challenges, etc. of the individual
  • Grow & Develop Others - Facilitate discussions, make introductions
  • Create Change - Embody and promote a growth mindset
  • Sustainability - Follow Up

And, don’t forget,

having a service mind-set doesn’t mean saying yes to every request.” 

10:15 AM

Larry Charlip, VP, Facilities Management and Corporate Real Estate at Take-Two Interactive, talks about how to get CRE and facilities management a seat at the table. As he puts it, if all you do is build out workspace then walk away, you’ll never get a seat at the table. It’s all about becoming a subject matter expert. And don’t let the business treat facilities management like an afterthought.Take control of the business plan, show them the costs and the value of upfront.

Benefits of PM and FM being part of the same team:

  • Own the products you build
  • Reduce maintenance response time
  • Resource to operating team
  • Reduce maintenance costs

“We don’t standardize across our Global portfolio. Every office has its own look and flavor. At the same time, we’ve built a structure around our global CRE team. Every week we have cross-functional meetings with our internal stakeholders (IT, security, facilities) to discuss all of our global properties and ongoing projects.“ - Larry Charlip, VP, Facilities Management and Corporate Real Estate at Take-Two Interactive

10:30 AM

Avanade’s Michelle Caldwell, North America Digital Workplace Transformation Lead, and Ruven Gotz, Workplace Experience Lead, discuss how to use human-centric tools such design thinking to ensure digital transformation efforts align with employee needs. 

Thinking about implementing Design Thinking at your organization? Check out these ice breaker games designed to spark innovation and collaboration:

  • Dear John
  • Worst Nightmare
  • Remember the Future
  • Sailboat
  • Visualize the vote

“Don’t focus on what needs to be done, focus on the end result. How will your new office design project make employees feel once its complete. Ask what should the space should do instead of what we need to do.”

1:00 PM 

Nick Livigne - Head of Product, Convene discusses the top 5 mega-trends driving the “age of acceleration” and what they mean for corporate real estate leaders:

  • Demographics
  • Technology
  • Urbanization
  • Globalization
  • Resources 

Other fun facts about the future of work & workplace models Nick shared include:

  • 67% of businesses globally are now choosing forms of flexible workspace as a long-term strategy rather than a temporary solution
  • 30% of all commercial office space will be consumed as “flexible space” by 2030
  • Choice, flexibility and experiences at work are now more important that other factors - including salary
  • Agility is the new efficiency 


Life at a startup can be hectic but workplace experience & design leaders can act as a stabilizing force amidst the chaos. Jimmy Groh, Head of Global Workplace and Real Estate, Collibra shares how he and his team approach “Scaling Sanely: Managing the Workplace through Rapid Growth.”

Amongst other pearls of wisdom, Jimmy advised, “If you’re not using analytics, you’re not using the technology to scale.” However, “data does not replace intuition.” 

In addition, follow two simple guidelines:

  • Just because you have it doesn’t mean you spend it
  • But sometimes it’s ok to throw money at a problem

2:30 PM

In her workshop, “Building Belonging: Designing Inclusive Workplace Experiences,” Dr. Michelle Samura, Associate Professor of Education and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education, Chapman University discusses what space can reveal about diversity and inclusion as well as how space can be changed to support these objectives. 

3 attributes of spaces that promote belonging: privacy, personalization, presentation (allows them to create a space that reflects who they are or who they aspire to be). Working closely with your end users (employees) is key to ensuring that space drives D&I objectives.

We were honored to be able to host our workshop at Convene's 530 5th Ave space. Below are a couple of snapshots we took of their facilities.