The Leader Magazine

SEP 2017

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being employee requirements as well – and that we would, increasingly, enjoy and expect this. This consumer-centric workspace delivery model is also evidenced by the economic relationship between the space and the occupant. While in traditional workplace environments employees are paid to be there, in coworking environments occupants are not only choosing but are, themselves, paying to be there. Our presentation also defi ned the features that make coworking attractive to businesses large and small: the availability and affordability of a prime, industry-aligned street address; the ability to mitigate risk through month-to-month leasing and space scaling; ready access to a variety of spaces for both employees and guests (conference rooms, lounges, phone booths); the ability for serendipitous interactions with future collaborators or customers; and the peace of mind that comes with a well-serviced offi ce. We even discussed the changing boundaries between "work" and "place": while it used to be that organizations existed only within their offi ce's physical parameters, coworking began to offer them a way to branch out without making a proportionate investment of time or money. While the member benefi ts of coworking are clear, operators, like WeWork, who both design and manage the space also benefi t from a more integrated building supply chain. R&D, design, and facilities operations are able to constantly collect feedback from their customers and members, iterate on their design solutions based on this occupant feedback, and understand the performance of their space over time. In conclusion, we predicted that companies may also begin, en masse, to leverage their own excess space by opening it to the community at large for coworking, seeding innovation, becoming closer with customers, and attracting future talent. The fact that we presented to a packed room of somewhat perplexed but highly inquisitive CRE professionals is evidence of how popular the coworking movement had already become in 2014 – just four years after WeWork was founded. Far from coworking's relatively scrappy roots in the 1990s, when some of the fi rst formalized coworking experiments began gaining ground, it was increasingly apparent that this workplace model had societal implications far more vast than giving young freelancers a break from the isolation of working at home or in coffee shops. Since 2014, the continued growth and valuation of WeWork, alongside the media frenzy around its success, is economic proof of a prevailing appetite for even more disruptive workplace models. In addition to operating more and more of its own signature coworking spaces internationally, WeWork is now also renting thousands of desks to large corporations like Microsoft and HSBC, who see the benefi ts of more fl exible real estate and consumer-centric workplace design and management. This kind of growth is also evidence of even bigger things to come: in the next lease term, 20 percent of American real estate portfolios will be comprised of coworking spaces. That should give us all pause! 2015: The offi ce gets democratized; facilities management learns to fail fast At the 2015 CoreNet Global Summit in Los Angeles, PLASTARC joined Rob Middleton, director of Worldwide Workplace Resources (Worldwide WPR) at Mozilla, to discuss how "fail fast" approaches to facilities management, "open source" workplace design, and "crowd sourced" workplace decision-making were leading to greater occupant engagement and satisfaction across next-generation companies who have tech methodologies at their core. Using Mozilla (our client) as a case study, we illustrated the social and spatial benefi ts of employing the concepts of fail fast and open source in the delivery of exceptional workplace services. Shortly after completing a series of workplace build-outs prior to the 2015 summit, Mozilla's WPR team began to wonder how it could apply its business ethos to its workplace design and real estate strategies. How could a company founded in the late 1990s on the premise that the Internet should be a global public resource, open and accessible to all, begin to imbue their physical workplace with those same progressive values in the new millennium? To reach this goal, we recommended Mozilla pursue three major initiatives. One: Open a portion of their physical space to civic and industry events, and frame it as a welcoming "front porch" for their community. Two: Develop a public-facing platform (initially a blog) for the company to share its challenges and triumphs in workplace design. Three: Enable and encourage others, both inside and outside Mozilla, to participate in its design processes. Today, this participatory, fail-fast design process is made possible by the WPR team's allocation of 10 percent of their construction budget for post-move adjustments based on occupant feedback. Our other recommendations included repositioning the company's Worldwide WPR team to better serve its communities (for example, by expanding receptionists' roles to include community manager responsibilities, and hiring facilitators to monitor and modify spaces according to occupant feedback), and using automated systems like sensors, enterprise social networks, and dedicated apps to track energy consumption, occupancy, and employee satisfaction. Today, while other companies worry about recruiting and retaining talent, Mozilla is fueled by a robust community of 8,000 volunteer coders all over the world, in addition to a paid staff of 1,150. The company views its real estate endeavors as ThE lEadER SEPTEMBER 2017 45 WeWork's headquarters in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City

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