The last year has seen an acceleration in workplace innovation. As teams plan for a return to the office and hybrid workdays, this need for reinvention will continue to be ever present. What role will physical spaces and prop tech play in the upcoming transition, and how will these elements define how talent is recruited?

During a “fireside chat” with Convene CEO Ryan Simonetti and real estate expert, author, and professor Dror Poleg, the industry veterans dove into these topics exactly. More specifically, how last year’s workforce trends inspired the launch of Convene’s very own virtual meetings platform. They discussed the biggest changes they’ve seen in the workplace and in talent acquisition, where innovation is needed within the commercial real estate infrastructure, and what emerging technologies may have the greatest impact on these industries moving forward.

In case you missed it, here are the key takeaways from the conversation, followed by a link to watch the full discussion:

The future of work features collaboration at its core

The conversation began with a poll of the audience, revealing 71% of attendees missed going into the office, because they wanted more collaboration with coworkers.

At Convene, we believe the future of work is hybrid, that the office isn’t going anywhere, and that remote work has decentralized teams – more specifically, decentralized top talent. In order to meet talent and teams where they are, companies are beginning to reimagine the “purpose of place.”

Ryan explained: “Headquarters are being redesigned and redefined, and focusing on the needs of the employees first. ‘Third spaces’ like Convene offer online and offline meeting experiences, blending digital and physical elements for enhanced collaboration. Even before COVID, the office of the future was not just about a building. It’s a network that allows the individual to access a variety of locations that enable their tasks at hand. This is more true than ever before.” Providing teams and employees a range of solutions to come together in person or online to ideate, co-create, and support one another will be a strong trend the experts expect to see prevail.

Companies will meet the talent where they are

To elaborate on the changing purpose of the headquarter office, Dror provided some insight into how companies were already beginning to decentralize prior to the pandemic. While top companies have been traditionally headed out of one location, generally in top metropolitan centers, housing and infrastructure demands have historically struggled to keep pace with influx of talent. These companies have thus de-prioritized the need to be in one central location, and with more offices in new locations, they have also been able to access additional talent from new geographies.

And while that trend was already in observation, Dror elaborates: “Covid pushed that over the edge where we no longer have to be in the same place. If we want the biggest talent pool, we hire anywhere. This doesn’t mean that more companies are going to become completely remote, but it means more and more employees will have that option now. “

Ryan echoed this sentiment, offering Convene’s team structure as a prime example: “If I look at a map of where our employees are today, we are in almost every single state, and some out of the country. Our leadership team has been fully remote. We are a company that’s always been more physically anchored by default, but to attract the talent we need we decided to be relevant and competitive moving forward. I have never seen a talent market this competitive, and I do not see that letting up.

This decentralized approach allows individuals to prioritize rest, and be in the environments that best suit their needs, however both experts expect a second wave of urbanization across different locations as talent pools gather to access the most competitive opportunities.

Dror continued: “The war for talent is making companies attract specific people with new approaches. These companies no longer care about the rent or what it costs to accommodate that person, and the question becomes, ‘Can you make the building attractive to that specific individual, and do that every day?’. This shift towards consumerization of the office and the city they live in, as a whole, is what makes employees stay. Bringing all of that together and making it seamless and pleasant is difficult, and it’s more than just renting out space.”

As landlords consider how to create the spaces that companies want to rent, they are sure to keep the war for talent in mind.

Landlords are certain to embrace technology

For many years, environmentalists and investors have pushed real estate owners and operators to consider improvements that would help the bottom-line, while ensuring a more conscious way of operating. The incentive to make capital expenses to respond to these concerns, in a thriving rental market, just wasn’t there. This has changed in the last year. Landlords are now refitting their spaces for safer and cleaner footprints, while also considering how to integrate technologies that will keep them competitive and ensure they meet today’s workplace needs. As they set out on this endeavor however, landlords and investors may even wonder where to begin.

On this topic, Dror shared: “Companies that are poised to take over larger chunks of the industry don’t have to invent the proprietary technology themselves, necessarily. The most interesting companies in real estate are the ones that are going to use different technologies and mix them together in order to create advantages for themselves and value for the customer. We are seeing some of this already with flexible office operators or flexible co-living companies like Airbnb and Open Door. These companies brought together certain aspects to do something very well, and when they accomplish that, it’s very hard to compete with and incredibly valuable for end-users.”

Similar to what’s happening in fintech, the experts agreed, partnering, not building from scratch will be the best avenue for landlords in their quest to embrace technology.

Interested in listening to the full conversation? The full video is available here.

Contact us to learn more about Convene’s full suite of products and how to prepare your team for the hybrid workday.