Nancy Sanquist, IFMA Fellow and Virtual Attendee
November 26, 2020
In mid-November of this year, Trimble Real Estate produced a virtual conference over four days and brought together their workplace technologists and partners, corporate real estate professionals and a data scientist to provide a series of live discussions on “Shaping the Future”.
It is not easy replacing the excitement of a face-to-face event (remember those?); the choice of multiple sessions during the day, the open bar and feasting during entertainment in the evening (my favorite live user conference was one where we were watching a colorful group of samba dancers kicking up their heels across the courtyard of the historic courtyard of the London Museum in honor of one of the teams in the world cup which was playing on screens in the background).
I must say, a virtual conference is not quite the same experience. However, Trimble Real Estate did a masterful job of assembling a great group of speakers, so I didn’t even miss the Brazilian beats. I am summarizing some of the sessions and one from the latest IFMA event in a series of blogs, as well as adding some of my own commentary.
The experts described their latest thinking, at this point in this time of the pandemic, in their reaction, recovery and future thinking, as we await the production and distribution of the vaccines which we hope will help to bring an end to the destruction of so many lives and economies around the world. They described current trends, strategic alignment of CRE with business, how we are redefining work and the workplace, why resilient leadership is so critical and how leaders need accurate, relevant, reliable data to make the most intelligent decisions they can, to not only respond to this crisis, but be proactive to shape the future, and resilient enough to be able to respond to whatever twists it might bring.
Trimble Real Estate General Manager, Suresh Sundaram, kicked off the conference by optimistically describing how things have changed for him with explaining his recent contributions to sustainability and the Massachusetts environment and how we have received better news on the global economy than we had envisioned.
Eight months ago, he was commuting to his office and back again from his home, as he had done for many, many years. During that period, he estimated that he had spent 15 months of his time in a car, bought 18,000 gallons of gasoline and emitted 260,000 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere. Now today, as he and his colleagues work from home, and take the time to challenge the old assumptions of work (a thing we do, not a place we go to), they realize the need for basic structural changes that include evaluating the growing inequality experienced by younger workers, women and the underserved populations, as well as evaluating the long term impacts on education due to our shift from the classrooms to virtual teaching,
“Reflecting on the last 8 months: the economy did not do as badly as predicted when the pandemic started. According to the IMF, global GDP dipped 7% rather than the 10% predicted”. For 2021, Morgan Stanley projects a global growth of 6.4%, first led by the emerging markets and then followed by the reopening economies in the U.S. and Europe.
Suresh went on to highlight three trends: 1) Advanced technology which allowed virtual meetings like this one, as well as enabling the “grand experiment” which is the success of working from home which proved more productive than originally thought. 2) Deglobalization and 3) Market consolidation in a number of industries.
As GM, Suresh naturally described Trimble’s response to the crisis as twofold. First of all, the fact that Trimble employees continued to be the strength of the company and secondly, the Real Estate team proved their continued innovation by releasing ManhattanONE in May as the central command depository of all real estate and FM data, as well as new modules (Business Continuity and Facilitate) for dealing with the crisis. This new functionality came from the team’s close work with their customers to provide solutions to deal with the crisis.
Suresh concluded his welcome address by encouraging flexible choices of where to work which are now given to employees: office or home (or remote place, like for co-working). While some preferred working from home, others, like the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, couldn’t wait to get back to the office. And working from home may actually be more stressful, as Suresh has learned having the distraction of his 95 year old father living at his home now while he works from the same place.
Suresh then introduced their Keynote Speaker, Keith Perske, head of Workplace Strategy at Colliers International, for his presentation on ‘Considerations for the Workplace’.
I need to add that I have known and have worked with Keith during the past two decades since he was part of one of the earliest workplace innovations as a member of the SUN team led by one of the early CRE executives who gained a seat in the Boardroom while he was there (Bill Agnello). They created one of the earliest ‘flexible work programs’ in the first decade of this century, where employees were encouraged to “work anywhere, anytime on any devices.” Keith was also one of the founders of OSCRE which created a standardized language for automating workplace data, and is a key member of IFMA’s Workplace Evolutionaries (WE).
Don’t forget to tune in next week to hear my summary of Keith’s keynote.
Nancy Sanquist, IFMA Fellow and Virtual Attendee
Nancy Sanquist is an IFMA Fellow, an AIA Associate, and is currently Chair of the IFMA Foundation Board of Trustees. Nancy has been in the real estate and facility management technology business for three decades; she has spoken at industry conferences all over the world. She is a well-known author and editor, including two IFMA Foundation books, Work on the Move (2014) and Work on the Move (2) (2016). Nancy formerly worked as an academic professor in art and architecture (UCLA; Lafayette and Muhlenberg Colleges), as a historic preservation urban planner (Easton, Pennsylvania), and as an urban revitalization consultant (Hollywood Revitalization, Los Angeles).
Trimble’s ManhattanONE software makes your real estate work as hard as you do by simplifying the complexities of managing a diverse portfolio in dynamic times. Our integrated, flexible platform delivers deep operational and financial insight to unlock value across your organization. Full access to every module of our comprehensive suite results in 360-degree visibility and unrivalled control. You’ll make decisions with speed and confidence, building experiences that motivate people and elevate the properties in which they work.