Innovative Office Space Article

More New York Companies Experiment With Innovative Office Space

The following article/story appeared in the Wall Street Journal by Kevin Hagen on July 7, 2014 and was written/reported by Keiko Morris:

Rachana Gheewala works from an easy chair in the new activity-based office of Gerson Lehrman Group.
Alexander Saint-Amand admits he used his old desk to store his stuff: extra neckties, books and water bottles.
As of last week, that became impossible because Mr. Saint-Amand no longer has a permanent desk at Gerson Lehrman Group Inc., the company he leads as chief executive.
Like everyone else in the 250-person office, Mr. Saint-Amand is now assigned only a laptop, a headset and a locker.
GLG’s new office design offers an array of workspaces—from comfortable couches to high stools at a barista-staffed coffee bar to single-occupancy glass booths.
“Something funny about having a lot of stuff is it makes you feel like you’re doing something,” said Mr. Saint-Amand, whose company helps other firms learn about business issues by matching them with experts. “But when you don’t have all that stuff, it frees you up to actually concentrate and work.”
GLG workers will have so-called neighborhoods, areas where their teams are based. But they are free to find a spot to work anywhere on the company’s two floors at One Grand Central Place. In the world of office design, the new layout at GLG is known as activity-based working.
A barista makes drinks at Gerson Lehrman Group, which has adopted a work-space model without permanent seat assignments.
Doing away with seating assignments for an office as large as GLG’s in New York is rare but increasing, said John Arenas, chief executive officer of Serendipity Labs Inc., a company that provides temporary work and meeting spaces for mobile workers.
Companies such as Microsoft Corp. MSFT -0.50% , PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Accenture have been experimenting with variations on unassigned seating since the 1990s and early 2000s. The Macquarie Group MQG.AU -0.94% drew much attention in 2009 when it instituted an activity-based working concept at one of its offices, for 3,000 workers, in Sydney, Australia.
Last year, real estate services company CBRE Group Inc. CBG +0.16% brought its version of the office design to its Los Angeles operation. CBRE said it planned to have the system in 21 of its offices by year’s end.
“When we actually looked at what they needed, they needed much more choice, the ability to make good decisions about getting their work done,” said Lenny Beaudoin, CBRE senior managing director of workplace strategy.
Offices designed around activity-based working save space, so they appeal to companies determined to shave real estate costs. CBRE’s new Los Angeles office will be able to accommodate 250 people in 48,000 square feet, compared with 210 people in the 72,000 square feet the company would have needed in the old office format. Companies also see the layouts as recruitment tools to attract younger workers who are accustomed to mobile technology.
“Office workers are really only at their desks 40% of the time,” said Bernice Boucher, a managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., JLL +0.09% a real estate services firm. “We have known this for decades, which is why everyone talks about desk sharing…free-seating and telecommuting.”
The wide options under activity-based working also give some employees private space they didn’t have.
“Quiet people are reminding people that it’s not just about collaboration, but concentration,” said Elizabeth Burow, director of discovery for design firm HLW International LLP.
But eliminating the private office or the private desk isn’t for everyone, said Richard Sennett, a sociology professor at New York University and the London School of Economics.
“Sometimes having a space you control, which is yours, gives people the feeling of empowerment and it can be good,” he said. “But it varies.”
GLG’s new office is 65,000 square feet, almost double its old quarters on Third Avenue. It is now in a building owned by Empire Realty Trust Inc. across the street from Grand Central Terminal.
Mr. Saint-Amand said the bigger space would allow GLG to host thousands of meetings between its network of prominent industry experts and business professionals—instead of convening them off-site as they did previously.
Natural light spills from a new skylight over a white staircase that descends into a cluster of red couches and white tables. It is a work area that resembles a sleek living room. Elsewhere are open bench tables with monitors and glass-walled meeting rooms named after influential thinkers, including Indira Gandhi, Thomas Hobbes, Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson.
“We want you to feel like you own the whole office not just your desk,” said Clive Wilkinson, whose firm, Clive Wilkinson Architects, designed GLG’s space. He was also the architect of the Macquarie Group’s activity-based office in Australia.”That’s a landmark change because employees typically are kept in their place and told, if you’re incredibly lucky you might get an office some day.”
GLG’s workers seemed to be adapting. Workers already had collectively dubbed the small private spaces with tall cylindrical walls as the “submarine.” And the small glass booths had come in handy for sales pitches.
Jim Sharpe, head of GLG’s North American financial services group, said he had already used eight work spaces at the new office by the second day.
He ate breakfast at the coffee bar and had meetings with co-workers in one of the diner-like booths—as well as in the Keynes room.

A Day in the Life of a NYC Commercial Real Estate Agent

Jarad Winter (427x640) (285x403)Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a commercial real estate agent in NYC? Jarad Winter, Associate Director at Capstone Realty Advisors, gives the lowdown on his life as a commercial real estate agent in one of the most competitive industries. Jarad’s no-holds-barred perspective uses wit and candor, as he takes us behind the scenes.

A day in the life of a NYC commercial real estate agent is an adrenaline rush. Here’s why.

I am approaching my third year in the business. The past three years have been like a roller coaster ride. It all began on my first day as a commercial real estate agent at Capstone Realty Advisors. Managing Partner and Founder, Joseph McLaughlin, gave me some advice on how to navigate the ups and downs of life as a NYC commercial real estate agent.

According to Joseph, succeeding as a commercial real estate agent requires perseverance, above anything else. One minute, you will be ecstatic because you just received a great phone call or email that gets you that much closer to completing a transaction.  The next moment, you will be incredibly disappointed about that phone call or email that has just delivered bad news.

Joseph’s words of advice were true to form. Being a commercial real estate agent has brought both challenges and rewards. But, that’s what makes it exciting. Its high moments, low moments, and everything in between – they’re all a part of my life at the Capstone office. And, I would have it no other way.

Diamond

The alarm goes off once, twice if I hit the snooze button, its loud beeping announcing another workday. There are many mornings when I wish I were more like the late Steve Jobs, who decided that he would only wear black turtlenecks and blue jeans to work. Smart man – by limiting his clothing options, he had one less decision to make during the day. If I showed up at the office in the same suit, shirt, tie, and shoes every single day, my fashionable colleagues would call me out on my “wear, wash and repeat” style.  Oh well, maybe in my next life.

While I walk to the Astoria Ditmars subway stop, I contemplate what I need to accomplish that particular day. It’s a time to multi-task, as I respond to emails using my iPhone. I continue to answer emails as I sit down on the N or Q train and begin the journey into Manhattan. Upon arriving at 34th Street Herald Square, I get out of the train and join the throng of New Yorkers on the streets of midtown Manhattan.

First things first, I immediately head to the deli to buy my morning coffee. That caffeine fix is my saving grace in the mornings. Armed with my cup of coffee, I walk into the Capstone office like a MLB player stepping onto the grass at the Yankee Stadium. It’s game time.

At my computer, I browse the new listings on CoStar with anticipation, hoping that the one space I’ve had my eye on has finally hit the market. I check my email again. Already, a handful of emails have seeped into my inbox. After promptly replying to the emails, I place 3-4 phone calls. Usually, the calls involve speaking with a client to confirm an appointment or discussing an offer with a building agent.

As the morning progresses, I open up my ACT! Database and perform my daily ritual of following up with clients. It’s a simple, yet important, step that involves checking in on clients, even if it’s to say a quick hello. Following up is essential to success as a commercial real estate agent. After all, it is better to be overly keen than not keen enough.

Since no two days are alike in this business, every morning is different. I usually start with an office space tour. I enjoy going on tours; they indicate that a client has placed their trust in me to find the best office space for their business. It’s a turning point in my business partnership with the client.

If I don’t have a tour planned, I canvass consistently. Cold calling and email blasts are a part of my canvassing strategies. By casting my net wide, I gather a few leads each day.

By the afternoon, I’ve literally worked up an appetite. I always try to eat a relatively healthy lunch, but hot and humid summer days call for a more hearty meal. For instance, after I go on a tour in 95 degree heat with 80% humidity, I’ll refuel by indulging in a large Italian Hero with hot peppers.

As I ramp up for the afternoon, I venture out to preview office spaces. Basically, previewing is researching. It involves taking photos of office spaces, jotting down notes of its features (natural light, anyone?), and drawing up detailed floor plans. After previewing an office, I am able to give my clients a first-hand perspective of the space, rather than simply spouting out facts and data that I read on CoStar. Clients always appreciate a “virtual” tour of an office space before they see it for themselves.

As the day draws to a close, I create a list of tasks for the following day.  Always looking ahead and having a proactive mindset is essential to survival in the industry. A commercial real estate agent should always think, ‘Ok, now what is the next step.’  In acronym speak, ATF (always thinking forward).

In this business, you have to roll with the punches. Some days are more hectic and stressful, while others bring a smile to my face. However, I enjoy facing the challenges. They make me a tougher and more resilient agent. After a day of bad news, I approach the following day with renewed vigor. I view every moment as an opportunity to maximize my potential as a commercial real estate agent.

As I’ve already mentioned, being a NYC commercial real estate agent is like riding a roller coaster. Even though it has its ups and downs, I enjoy every single moment of thrill.

Do you have questions or thoughts about the life of a NYC commercial real estate agent? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.