Thoughts on “Hoteling, Real Estate and the Evolution of Facilities” from an IFMA rookie

I am new to the Bay Area and to the San Francisco chapter of IFMA. Excited to get involved, I’ve joined the PR/Communications Chair headed up by Carmina Bacani. I attended October’s program and assisted with event registration.

The program speakers, Nancy Ludlow of Corporate Real Estate, and David Meckley of Huntsman, gave a dual presentation on “Hoteling, Real Estate and the Evolution of Facilities.” As Nancy pointed out, the workforce is more mobile than ever; mobility is the norm. She used case studies from Pharma, IT and utility companies to illustrate how workplace culture is changing due to the nature of the real estate. The utility company example is especially interesting; being located in a historic building, there is minimal investment in technology and limited dollars in reconfiguration. In addition, most of the employees have to commute to the space, thus affecting work and culture.

David followed this with a presentation on the corporate reaction to mobile staffing. While some companies have no official policy on this issue, others are offering alternative locations, such as satellite suburb offices. Others, however, are completely revamping what the workspace looks like and what it provides. David’s presentation included several pictures of new workspaces, such as the “touchdown zone” (creating a coffee shop/airport lounge atmosphere in the office), the “home base” (having the smallest possible desks located very close together while creating other spaces to spend time), and “free addressing” (employees come in and work wherever they want whenever they want). The implications for facilities, he explained, is that they are now more open and adaptable with a smaller footprint, while the lines between workplace and residence have become blurred.

These presentations hit close to home for me for two reasons in particular. One is that I myself, am a very highly mobile worker; though I live in California, I am working for a professor at Penn State University. My workspace rotates between my bed, the living room couch, and Starbucks (not my favorite coffee perhaps, but the most reliable WiFi!). I have no real option of commuting into work, so the idea of the workplace has really been transformed for me. Additionally, as a human geographer by training, I’ve considered the reasons that particular companies locate in particular places (e.g. tech companies in Silicon Valley) and the implications of this, but have not thought much about how the actual real estate affects culture, productivity, collaboration, etc. I’m seeing a potential future dissertation topic…

Lauren M. Anderson

Sustainability Advocate
Fairfood International

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