Annie Rinker, Director, Office of Innovation, Hines | How tech is changing Tenant Experience | 38:02


DA: Hi, I’m David Abrams, and I want to welcome you to this edition of the Tenant Experience Network Podcast. I want to welcome today’s guest Annie Rinker, Director, Office of Innovation at Hines. In this episode, we’ll learn about Annie’s journey to her current position at Hines, where she builds on the intersection of co-working and traditional commercial real estate, by exploring ways to drive value. We’ll tap into her thinking around how technology is changing client experience, hear her views on the changing role of the property manager and begin to explore where co-working meets multi-family. We’re excited to be sharing this podcast with you, so make sure to subscribe, so you never miss an episode of the Tenant Experience Network. So now I’d like to welcome Annie to the show. Annie, really glad that you could be with us today. How are you?

AR: I’m good David. Thank you. I’m really excited to be here with you.

DA: Well, I’m looking forward to the conversation. So let’s start with your journey to your current role as director, office of innovation at Hines. How did you get started? Walk me through what that looked like.

AR: Oh gosh. Well, we have to go all the way back to 2006, and honestly, I think I ended up in this general area by accident. I was between undergrad and law school and I needed a job. I ended up taking a position of Washington, DC for a real estate company, the Carr companies, who they… There’s a long history of sort of coworking, what then was called executive suites or service offices with the Carr family. But when I started, they were using empty space in their current buildings and later signing leases and other buildings to build out what was then called executive suites. So I started off in account management and sales, and progressed pretty quickly as the company continued to grow. And I think I learned a lot during my time at Carr. I was there for almost 13 years. And I think you know, one of the things that we got to do is work a lot with Oliver Carr Junior, who is now in his 90s, but he’s been a visionary of real estate, especially I think, in the co-working world. And he has been incredibly forward looking at what this product needs and really focused, I think on the customer, the tenant. Which I think again is something that historically real estate hasn’t done a great job. In fact, if you even think about just like what the word customer means, and you talk to people in real estate, a lot of them are focusing on their investment customers or their different customers in traditional real estate, rather than, you know, the people who are actually engaging with our product. The humans who are interacting every single day with the buildings that we build, historically have not necessarily been part of the conversation. And I think that I had the fortunate pleasure of starting with this company who had a founder, who believed that the belief that the humans interacting with our product, were a huge part of what we needed to do. And I remember sitting in a meeting with him, this must have been probably 10 years ago, and he drew this like elaborate building on a chalkboard or whiteboard and, you know, sort of showed different products in the buildings and saying like, you know, if you’re small or if you need flexibility, then you’re going to go to this product. And if you are sort of between that and a traditional lease, then this is the product that you’re going to go to, and then you’re going to grow, and you’re going to be in this lease. And then we’re going to have all these services on the ground floor. You know, this was 10 years ago and that was like mind blowing. Nobody was talking about it. You know, people were probably laughing him out of their offices because that’s just not what was done. But the reality is that that really is what the people, that’s what they want. That’s the experience that they want to have in our buildings. And there’s a lot I think, you know, 10 years ago we weren’t there because technology wasn’t there. I think just where we were from a generational standpoint wasn’t quite there, but where we are today with technology and the people actually engaging in our buildings, that’s exactly what they’re looking for. And so, you know, all of that to say, I think Carr was a really great place to cut my teeth but at the end of the day, they are more of a regionally focused family fund. And so me joining the office of innovation at Hines, you know, there’s so much innovation happening in real estate and the office of innovation. They formed it several years ago to sort of look at all of those different things, including flexibility, and amenities, and programming and, you know, space utilization, all these different things that are happening in real estate right now. But a big part of it is how the technology is really changing the client experience and the expectations and how they work. So I’m focusing on sort of one innovation pillar, which is this concept of agility. So how can we provide more flexibility into our products? How can we give that flexibility back to our clients? And at Hines, I’m hoping to bring sort of all the operational knowledge that I’ve had of co-working to our in-house platform, which we call the square, as well as different ways to work with our asset management, property management, development teams, to really enhance the experiences of our clients and drive our global portfolio forward.

DA: Very interesting. So I’m really looking forward to this conversation based on sort of that journey and where I think we can continue to chat about. Just a quick comment and then a question. First of all, in terms of the customer you spoke about that. You know, I think also the industry for a long time only thought the customer was the person that signed the lease.

AR: Yeah, yeah exactly.

DA: Right. And I think what’s evolving is, you know, recognizing that the customer’s every single tenant, every single occupant.

AR: Yeah.

DA: They’re your customers, and we exist ultimately to serve them. So I think it’s been an amazing transformation, and I think the industry is a lot closer to recognizing that more holistically than it ever has been before.

AR: Well, yeah, and I think it’s interesting that, you know, if you take co-working, which is what my background is in. We were developed to be able to have those engagements on a more granular level, rather than property management, which traditionally is sort of a single person where you’ve got, you know, the tenant person of the building, and that’s who you communicate with. You’ve got the person who signed the lease and that’s who you communicate with. And you got, you know, hundreds of other people that never engage with company management.

DA: They didn’t matter at all.

AR: They didn’t matter at all, and I think you’re absolutely right David, is at that… I mean, that’s being blown out of the water now. And I think people want the engagement. They want to engage more with the people. They want to engage more with the buildings. They want sort of the programming that exists in coworking, and that we did a really great job off. But, you know, I also think it’s really difficult for property managers, ’cause they have all these other things. Like if you think of a community manager in a coworking space, they basically have to think about their floor and their space, and that’s it. They don’t have to think about the mechanical systems of the building. They don’t have to think about all the vendors that you know, deal with the building and the management of it. But I think what is happening right now and is really interesting is that, there’s so much technology, not impacting necessarily directly to the tenant or the customer, but that’s happening with property management and engineering, that is allowing them to be less hands-on. Through automation and machine learning, we can take a lot of the things that historically engineers and property managers have done and automate it, and make it so that they can focus on other things. And so property managers historically did not have the bandwidth, they could only focus on one person. But now I think with what’s happening in our industry and the different tools and resources that are out there, we’re able to remove some of like lease administration from their plate, and have them focus on some of the softer things, some of the like EQ based things, that really the people occupying our buildings now want. And I think that that’s a really big shift in our industry.

DA: Right, that this could be a whole another episode but that opens up-

AR: Yeah.

DA: All kinds of questions around what are the skill sets that property managers now need going forward. So, one other quick comment. So when, you talked about executive suites being sort of maybe the… Where it all started and then this migration or this transition, to what is now called co-working. When did that take place for you and for Carr?

AR: Oh gosh, I actually, it’s funny. So there’s like a long history and I’m not going to be able to quote exactly who or when, or, you know, but it basically was around I think the great financial crisis, is sort of when the term was coined. And I remember going through a big debate with our company because the word co-working when it first came out, was very specific to this like community-focused, open workspace, a lot of programming, free beer generally, you know, that was like what coworking was. And my company had a much more traditional executive suite model, which isn’t as much open space. We still had all of the other things, but I think just the mere fact, we didn’t have hot desking, or, you know, open workspaces, made it so that we were pretty slow to adopt to the term coworking. And, you know, I remember as early as probably four years ago, being at, you know, there’s an organization called the Global Workspace Association, and they have an annual conference every year and it’s for operators and occupiers, and now more so landlords who are starting to join this organization, but there were these debates that were going on internally in our own industry. Like, can you call yourself co-working if you don’t have open space, you know, is their service office, should that be what we use? Should we adopt different things for different product types? And there was sort of this just gradual shift, where everybody now uses the word, the term co-working interchangeably. And I think if you’re still using service office or executive suite, it’s sort of looked upon as this old school operator rather than, you know, somebody… And even now, you know, I’m sitting in the square in our Houston location and we’ve brought it on industrious as our operating partner, and, you know, I’m in a private office right now across the whole private office, it’s all private offices. We don’t have any like big open coworking spaces but this is co-working. And I think that’s just, you know, it’s sort of the bringing together all these different services and promoting it for both enterprise, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises that need the site, the space and flexibility. And that’s what coworking is now.

DA: Right. So why do you think you were so uniquely suited to this opportunity? Are there any unique skills, or interests, or experiences that helped you to become successful?

AR: Oh, well, I think I was lucky enough to just sort of fall into coworking. And then as a result, fell in love with the industry. I think, you know, this is such a people focused industry. And again, you know, if we think about property management, it wasn’t historically, but I personally believe, and I think that a lot of others do as well, that this is the direction that property management has had as well. But it’s this people focus where we, you know, it was heavy on engaging, it was heavy on sales, it was heavy on like operations. It was heavy on a lot of these different things that I think I was just sort of really suited for. So I spent years learning about all that. Operations, marketing, sales, management, customer engagement, but I think one of the benefits that I had is I listened to my gut. Several years ago, I really saw that the integration of coworking was happening into more traditional real estate. And I think that, you know, I saw that customers were not no longer just single, you know, entity law firms that needed space but that, you know, Microsoft needed space, and that Facebook was looking at this. And that you know, these larger corporations,, and finance ,and tech, and law, that normally wouldn’t have used our space, and in fact would have seen it as like a black market, if they did, were now wanting that flexibility and wanting the product and wanting the programming that these spaces were delivering. And I think that that woke up and I saw that, you know, with that shift that coworking needed to be integrated and would in the future become a bigger part of traditional real estate into the future. So with that, I went back to get a master’s in real estate finance and development from Georgetown University. So I could have an understanding of co-working and traditional real estate, and really start to be the bridge between those two. So I could talk operations and then sit in front of an asset manager and talk about the financing of the building. And so that they can start to understand how the operations and the cash flows that we have on the operating side, actually impact the building and how we can fully integrate the product. And so, you know, again, I think listening to my gut was a big part of that.

DA: Right. Really interesting. And I think the way in which coworking space has evolved, and to your point, it’s not just for, you know, one-off, you know, entities, but also as a part of a total real estate solution for very large companies as well. I think it’s been very much driven by what the customer, the user has wanted. And it is definitely, definitely meeting a need. Any advice for someone wanting to follow a similar path.

AR: I mean, like I said, I followed my gut, which took me to Georgetown, which, you know, my age in my career and working full-time and going to Georgetown University full-time was extremely difficult and grueling on me and my family, but I truly believe that this is where it was headed. And so listening to my gut and my heart, got me to where I am. And so, you know, I’d say that people need to do that. You need to trust your instincts. I think, you know, I actually got advice from my former boss at Carr and, you know, he told me that, I was sort of debating which track to take at Georgetown. And he told me that understanding finance is a huge part of almost any role I was going to do in real estate. And, you know, for me, like taking a finance track was probably the last thing I wanted to do. Like not a huge fan of numbers, but at the end of the day that was actually phenomenal advice. And I’m really thankful to him that he led me down that path because I do understand it better. I understand the whole entire project cycle from a development standpoint, and the, you know, the different capital stacks that we’re dealing with, and all these different things that I can, again have those interactions with asset teams and the management teams on the traditional real estate side. So I would say like, even if it’s not your strong suit, really dig in and try to understand financing if you’re taking on a real estate role.

DA: Well I think actually I’ll host you for just about anything. So just to share a little David tidbit, this is actually my latest endeavor, is actually my third invention of myself and what I’m doing with my career, but I started out actually in public accounting. And so I used that opportunity to gain insight into so many different kinds of businesses from a financial perspective, and really learn to understand what you know, financially drove a company. And then I ended up going into marketing and ran a marketing agency for 25 plus years and then became a founder of a tech company. But I’ll tell you that foundation of finance has served me well.

AR: Oh, I can imagine. Yeah, I agree with that.

DA: So, we’re on the same page there. Listen there’s no shortage of challenges that we’re all dealing with today, but what’s the biggest challenge you’re experiencing and how do you think you’ll overcome it?

AR: Well, I mean, honestly it has to do with finance. I think, you know, the coworking obviously, has become more mainstream. The fact that we’re even having these conversations that I work for one of the world’s largest private real estate developers, is you know, it’s proof that coworking has become mainstream, but there’s still so many people that don’t understand it. They don’t understand the product, they don’t understand the operations, they don’t understand the cash flows. And I think part of that is its relationship to capital markets and the financing of buildings. I think the industry as a whole is still in its infancy. And so like as buildings start to transact, you know, so let me take a step back before we transact for buildings. But I think our industry has seen this massive shift especially with COVID, towards management agreements. So traditionally, you know, a serviced office, a coworking firm would sign a long-term lease 20,000 feet 10 years, they’d get their TIA dollars, they’d build out the space, they’d operate it, and they’d take the, you know, the alpha that they’re creating within that space. I think that there’s been the shift though, and it started several years ago. In fact, my former company Carr did a lot of management agreements and buildings that we owned. We had, you know, sort of a management agreement contract but then, you know, third party buildings as well, we started that, and now more and more people are doing it. And with COVID, sort of the rent arbitrage model that coworking has been built off of is been exposed and nobody’s interested in that anymore. And so very few people continue to sign leases for coworking space. And in the future, you know, even if leases are signed, I think that the asset teams are taking a really strong look at the financials of those companies, to understand the viability of them into the future. And so all that to say, we still need this product. And so management agreements are becoming more and more popular. And so, you know, a company will go into a management agreement with the landlord and, you know, they won’t necessarily pay rent but they’ll pay, you know, some sort of upside based on operations of the space, et cetera. So, you know, all of that to say that’s, I think really, really great for our industry but how it impacts building transactions is still unknown. I think the industry is in its infancy and it’s not like buildings are transacting hundreds of them a day. You know, we’ve gotta get through the management agreement phase, and then we need to operate the spaces for a couple of years, and then the building needs to transact. And then we can start to see the impact that these management agreements have on the valuation of buildings. And so that’s, you know, that’s one of the biggest challenges, right, is frankly it’s like a timing issue. I think the industry will start to understand this but right now it’s really hard for landlords to understand operating models and thus, you know, if a building transacts and they’ve been able to maintain a certain amount of cash flow from operations, if the, you know, the building owner B that wants to acquire that building, they might not fully understand operations of that cash flow and how it’s. And so they might not underwrite the acquisition of that building factoring in the premium that coworking space is able to achieve on that floor. And so I think, you know, all that to say, it’s very interesting. I think the management agreement, one of the things that it is going to do, is that it’s going to give more of a direct relationship between the member, the customer of the coworking space and the landlord. So there’s not necessarily a third party entity between the two, it’s going to make it, so that the customer has more of a direct relationship with the landlord, which I think will help the capital markets better understand and underwrite these products. But, you know, frankly right now it’s, you know it’s time.

DA: Right.

AR: If I could overcome it, I would fast forward push the fast forward button in five years in the future, or we’d have a lot of these buildings that have transacted with management agreements that we can see the cash flows from the operations of these coworking spaces and how it’s impacted the NOI of the building.

DA: Right, so just these new models creating, you know, we don’t have the same experience in working with them and therefore don’t really understand exactly how they impact on all these other motions, you know, along the real estate journey. Interesting.

AR: Yeah, yeah.

DA: If you had an extra $100,000 of budget right now, how would you spend it and why?

AR: Well personally or professionally,

DA: Let’s do professionally.

AR: Okay, fine professionally. So I think, you know, it sort of goes back to what we just talked about. I think there are a number of projects at Hines that could really benefit from the square, from our coworking product, you know, but we’re still working on these pitches to these investors into the project teams, and everything that we just talked about as it relates to the management agreements and the, you know, potential, I think benefits, but, you know, could also be seen as, you know, it could impact negatively the cash flows of buildings. And so I think that it’s still seen as a really risky product and, you know, real estate risk. There needs to be super high reward, which I believe that there is. But also if you’re trying to de-risk a project, putting coworking in, it is not the best move. And so, you know, if I could just take money and in real estate $100,000, doesn’t get you super far. But if I could just sort of drop that and say to a project team, like no returns expected, here’s $100,000 I’m going to prove to you that this will work. And we’ll sort of put that in so that, you know, we don’t have to, you know, whether it removes some of the upfront capital required, or the, you know, TI dollars required, whatever it is, but just drop $100,000 into a project. And then let’s fast forward again, three, five years, and I think that that would really, you know, if I could use that money to convince a project team for us to put this product in there, you know, I think the more and more that we have these products in our buildings, and I’m using them as case studies for other project teams and people will start to understand, how this is integrating into the full fabric of the building and how it’s engaging the customers, not just on the co-working floor but like how can we engage everybody in the building? And so, you know, how can, instead of just building an amenity floor that sort of the stale stagnant amenity floor, how can we use co-working to become the amenity space in the building Engage with the rest of the tenants in the building and sort of create this like holistic product, that’s not just, you know, bifurcated with coworking over here and rest of the building over here, and boom there’s our product. So I think that would be a good tool up my sleeve, and I just pull out a $100,000 cheque.

DA: I love it, I love it. I’ll try to make that come your way.

AR: Thank you.

DA: And really, as I think about, you know, what was in my head as I was, you know, writing a strategic plan many years ago, pre PropTech and and pre, you know, the really the destruction of commercial real estate by technology, around what ultimately has become Hilo, it was very much recognizing that, you know, why was that co-working experience in isolation of the total building experience?

AR: Right.

DA: And I always felt there was an incredible opportunity for it to be actually one experience, with maybe just a different, you know, physical footprint in one part of the building. But that was really a driving force behind creating a digital communication and engagement platform, but ultimately brought people together, create a community, provided opportunity to promote amenities, and services, and programs that really focused on the customer, every customer, every individual in the building. 

AR: I love it, yeah, that’s exactly what we need.

DA: Yeah. Let’s, you and me let’s change this industry. I love it. So, you know, I’ve certainly learned as I’ve embarked upon this new journey for me, the value of mentors and colleagues and, you know, reading, you know, recommended books. I can tell you that I’ve done more of that in the last, you know, two or three years of building HILO, than I did in my entire career previously. I wish I had started much earlier but can you tell me, are there any resources, or mentors, or colleagues, that have really helped you along the way that have really been influential, and ’cause I think that’s great learning for our listeners and to show the value of it.

AR: Yeah, you know there are a lot of them. I’m very fortunate in that. You know, I think relationship building has been a really good thing for me. And, you know, it’s something that people need to understand that you’re not only just building relationships with like potential customers, but internally within your company you need to really work hard to establish and maintain relationships, you know? And whenever somebody who you think is interesting and you want to learn from, most people are very flattered by the opportunity to teach somebody else something. And so, you know, early in my career, you know, I remember I was actually, I think it was through ULI, young leaders program, or something but there was this amazing woman who was a broker and, you know, I was very impressed by her and she ended up doing this like mentor group. And I love every single interaction that we had. And I still to this day and you know, I moved to Houston, Texas, so I haven’t seen her in awhile, but every single month up until me moving to Houston, Texas, we would have coffee, and just talking to her about the industry and what she’s seeing and, you know, problems that I was having in my career or, you know questions I was having, like all the different things, like my decision to go to Georgetown University, talking it through with her, I think was really influential. And I mentioned already but I’m very fortunate that I started my career working for this amazing visionary. And you know, this is a guy who at 90-years-old was talking about coworking spaces, and coming in driving himself into the office every single day. And so working for somebody at that level, I think was really, really big for me and did a lot for me in my career. But, you know, I do a lot of reading. I think reading is really important. I read probably an average of an hour to an hour and a half. Every single morning, I just wake up early. And so I can read and whether it’s through a podcast that I listen to or books that I’m currently reading, or news alerts that I set for myself for companies in this industry, or, you know, whatever, I think that it’s really important to stay engaged with others who are… That have similar outlooks and also different outlooks to you. I think it’s important to continue to engage with them.

DA: Yep, Definitely. Can you share any details about something new you’re working on to the extent that you’re able, that you think our listeners might find interesting?

AR: Well, you know, one of the things that Hines has done with the squares that we sort of see it as this research and development area for Hines, one of the things I think that has been particularly interesting and I’ve had conversations with others, who’ve agreed with me, is sensors are a really big thing that people are talking about right now and what we did at the squares, we see it almost as this research and development lab for us. Because if you think about a traditional building, we can put sensors in the lobby, but it’s not like one of our tenants is going to allow us to put seven different sensor companies in their space and trial them against each other. and then pull down the data, and figure out what it’s telling us, et cetera. And so at the square, we are able to do that. So we’ve got I think, seven different sensor companies that equate to around 150 sensors throughout the whole space that are telling us all sorts of different things. And we’re seeing which sensors are working, which aren’t, or seeing what kind of data it’s giving us, we’re trying to, to, you know, develop dashboards so that we can analyze that data. And, you know, there’s one thing to collect data. You can collect data all day long. It’s another thing to take that data and have it as some sort of iteration into the future for your product, or to tell you something and then actually do something with that knowledge. And so I think that’s something that we’re working on right now, is trialing the different sensor companies, seeing which ones we like, which ones are giving us data, that’s really informative. And then what are we going to do with that data? How are we going to distill it down so that it’s, you know, something that we can look at on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, however, often we need to, how is it then going to inform? So, you know, we’re trialing out sensors in our bathrooms. And so, and especially in COVID, this is really fascinating because instead of saying to our cleaning company we just need to clean our restrooms every hour, we can actually take the data from a utilization standpoint and say, hey, the bathroom was just used, can you go clean it? So it’s I think able to really streamline our process and make us a lot more efficient. And this is sort of going back to that whole conversation about property management. So you can imagine now, if we can make our whole operations much more efficient with this information that we’re able to gather, I think that’s sort of the, you know, the whole point of the sensor, is not just to gather data, it’s actually be able to do something that betters the tenant experience, or betters our, you know, our property management team, make something more efficient, like we need to be able to actually distill that data down and do something with it. So that’s a big focus for my team right now. Not necessarily something I’m focusing on, but we are putting it in the coworking spaces that I’m working on, so it’s exciting.

DA: All right, I just want to confirm that this conversation was, you know, not pre planned completely, you know, not non-rehearsed in advance, but it’s interesting that you bring up sensors of all things. Because we really believe as a tenant engagement platform, we really believe that if we’re the ones that are helping to bridge the gap between building operator and tenant, and really bring that relationship to life that we think sensors actually play a pretty important role in all of that, and how our platform can actually also engage with sensors and to your point, how does that data come back and feedback to the manager to help inform decisions, you know, improve efficiencies, improve operations, so offline, I’d love to connect with you and talk further.

AR: That’s great.

DA: About what you’re doing in sensors and about what we’re doing, and see where that intersects.

AR: Yeah.

DA: If you could have one superpower besides reading my mind all the time, what would that be and why?

AR: Well, it’s funny ’cause I, you know, mind reading, I think would be really great because I sit it’s so many meetings with people and you know, not even just, you know, for you, that would be really helpful. But I think, you know, when I’m sitting here talking to these project teams, and they walk through our space and I’m like, yeah, it’s beautiful, yes, we want it in our project. But then they go back and have all sorts of other meetings with all sorts of other people and then they come back and it’s like, no, thank you. And so it’s like, I would love to be able to read your mind or maybe visible powers so I can follow them and be a fly on the wall within those internal conversations to figure out what’s really happening on the back end, so that I could try to solve for it. Because I think, you know, again, I’m a obviously a big believer in this product and I think everybody, all projects need to have it into the future. And so if I can just understand more in depth like why it’s sometimes a no, and you know, probably most of it has to do with financing, but like how can we get to the bottom of that, and how can we help solve for it? I would love that power, ’cause I think would be a lot more efficient.

DA: Okay. All right. So you talked about, you know, sensors being not necessarily something you’re specifically working on, but a bigger part of your team or your company. What are you curious about about right now? What are you thinking about differently in light of current circumstances?

AR: Well, I think, you know, two big things kind of dealing with the experience. So, you know, obviously everybody I’m in an office today but that’s sort of, it’s not frequent. I’m not frequently in the office. So a lot of people are back working at home. And so we sort of started to think about this, like what the future of office. I don’t believe that the office is dead, but I do believe that there’s this going to be the shift to a much more high touch, high caliber, high experience product. And so I think I spent a lot of time sort of thinking about what that means. What does that mean for property management? What does that mean for the projects that we develop? What does it mean for the design? How can we incorporate the coworking in there? Because at the end of the day, you know, I don’t need to come to an office anymore. Most people aren’t going to need to come to an office, and so if office becomes more of a want than a need, then how are you going to attract people into your product? And I think that that’s a big question that a lot of developers need to answer.

DA: Right.

AR: But I think that’s not, I don’t, I think a lot of people are thinking about that right now, and it’s not that groundbreaking, but one of the other things that you know, I’m thinking a lot about is, you know, with so many people working from home, how do we start to incorporate coworking not just into an office building. So how can we maybe incorporate into the fabric of our multifamily development? I think that there’s still a ton to unpack there. And it’s interesting, because, you know, I was just having this conversation not that long ago with a colleague but it’s like, you know, you need to think about an office. If you have a coworking product and I’m putting it into a multi-family development, I can’t sell an office that is more expensive than somebody just getting a two person or a two bedroom unit, because then that second bedroom is their office. And so if we want coworking to sort of be incorporated into the fabric multifamily, then we really need to think about the products that we’re offering. And is it more of an on-demand type product? Do we have more team rooms because that’s something that people need a multifamily, and, you know, there’s again a ton to unpack there and a lot of conversations to be had around it. But, you know, I think, I think that obviously again, a big believer in this product and I think that there’s a lot that it do in real estate, not just an office. And so I spent a lot of time sort of thinking about how can we further incorporate this more and more into real estate?

DA: Well, it makes a lot of sense. And I guess where we’re gravity gravitating towards is just the whole notion of work from everywhere. I don’t think it’s work, you know, come back to the office. I don’t think it’s work remote, I think it’s the notion of working from everywhere. One of the ideas in multi-family, You’re right. I don’t think it’s just putting in offices in a multi-family setting, but I’ve heard one company that’s created what they call zoom rooms.

AR: Yep.

DA: Right, so, you know, I think it’s more on a utility basis. What do people who are working from home need that they can’t always satisfy within their own suite or their own space. So I think there are definitely some interesting and exciting opportunities that we’re going to see emerge in that category.

AR: I agree.

DA: Is there anything you wish you had known when you first started out. Wouldn’t we all love the benefit of clients side.

AR: Right, yeah. I mean, I think probably if I had been able to look back five or six years ago, and seeing the different client types that were starting to come into coworking and really, I think do a better job of associating the experience that they had, and the direct correlation to their desire to be in this, to the experience, to the product type and how that should ship, it’s like, you know, I knew that it was coming but I don’t think I put as much weight onto it. And so, you know, 10 years ago, 14 years ago, when I first started off in this industry, I think, you know, if I had been able to see where we are today, and again, I had a little bit of it because of the founder of my former company, but I still think that there was so much that we could have done better knowing where the industry was headed. And so if I could look back and have that magic crystal ball, and realize that this is exactly like everything that coworking does, you know, the operations, and the programming, and everything, really is needed and the full entire project and incorporated into property management. I think if I had known that five years ago, then you know, it’d be a different conversation. And instead it was like one of those things where I sort of started to understand and got, but I wasn’t standing on top of mountains, like I am right now, I think, screaming about it. And so I wish I had that knowledge back then and I did something with it.

DA: Right, you know, Deloitte at the beginning of 2020, I guess, late 2019, declared, you know, their vision for the future. And of course we all know that real estate used to be location, location, location, and they declared it to be location, experience, analytics. So, you know, I think in the end not knowing the impact that COVID would have on the world, I think that really holds true even more that, you know, yes, you need the physicality or some form of physicality, but then it is all about the experience and to your earlier point about sensors and data, you know, the analytics that come out of that to help just continue to provide that feed of information to continue to improve, right?

AR: Yeah, continuous improvement I think is so huge. And I think, you know, again, we went back to the original conversation we had about who the customer is.

DA: Right.

AR: And that I think is, has seen a major shift in this industry. And like in most industries, that’s like a standard, that’s like how you start off. And so the fact that we are only now just starting to have those conversations and ask those questions, I think, I mean, it makes me really excited for what the future of real estate looks like.

DA: Right. Well, if that truly does bring us full circle then I wanted to say, thank you very much for joining me today. It was a great conversation. I look forward to reconnecting in 2021.

AR: Yes.

DA: And talking again and let’s see where, you know, your work takes you, let’s see if we’ve been able to find that $100,000, so you can pursue that experiment. But at a minimum, it’ll be exciting to see where, how coworking continues to evolve, and I believe that it will, and how the notion of working from everywhere will continue impact, not only traditional commercial real estate but also the multi-family, and how work from everywhere, you know, finds its way into that sector of the industry as well. So–

AR: I definitely agree, David, this has been really great. I appreciate it.

DA: Awesome, thanks so much and I wish you all the best.

AR: Thank you, have a good one.

DA: Take care.

AR: Bye.

DA: I want to thank Annie Rinker for joining us on today’s podcast, and for sharing her journey from early beginnings at Carr Companies, to celebrating her one year anniversary in her new role at Hines, Great learning for all our listeners, and an opportunity to gain insights into what it takes to build a successful career. Please be sure to tune in again for future discussions, with leading professionals and industry experts, who all have something to say about experience in the built world, and the impact that technology is having on the largest asset class in the world, commercial real estate. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on a future episode, please reach out to me directly at And until our next episode, I wish you all continued success in building community where you work or live. Thank you.

Ryan Speers | Partner & COO | Workhaus | The future of work is flexible

Season 5 / Episode 7 / 41:20
In this episode, we learn that Ryan’s business is at the forefront of the hospitality and customer experience conversations that are happening as CRE continues to up its game on this front by offering essential amenities to help drive user engagement and enjoyment. Tune in to learn more about Ryan’s perspective on Workhaus being a tech-enabled business versus a technology business.

Lisa Davidson | Vice Chairman | Savills North America | An inspiring journey from Tenant Rep to Proptech investor

Season 5 / Episode 5 / 46:17
In this episode, Lisa sheds light on key market drivers influencing real estate decisions, such as the rise of amenities and spec suites. She describes the future of work as “accommodating employees with great space.” The impact that unique community spaces have on potential tenants as they are touring prospective spaces is something else she sees in the market.

Rob Kumer | CEO | KingSett Capital | Trends and success strategies in CRE

Season 5 / Episode 4 / 53:34
In this episode, Rob shares his 3 pillars for success in the office category and speaks about the importance of experience and the technological advances impacting all asset classes. KingSett is very focused on decarbonization, and energy management including deep water cooling and implementing new lighting systems.

Ryan Speers | Partner & COO | Workhaus | The future of work is flexible

Season 5 / Episode 7 / 41:20
In this episode, we learn that Ryan’s business is at the forefront of the hospitality and customer experience conversations that are happening as CRE continues to up its game on this front by offering essential amenities to help drive user engagement and enjoyment. Tune in to learn more about Ryan’s perspective on Workhaus being a tech-enabled business versus a technology business.

Lisa Davidson | Vice Chairman | Savills North America | An inspiring journey from Tenant Rep to Proptech investor

Season 5 / Episode 5 / 46:17
In this episode, Lisa sheds light on key market drivers influencing real estate decisions, such as the rise of amenities and spec suites. She describes the future of work as “accommodating employees with great space.” The impact that unique community spaces have on potential tenants as they are touring prospective spaces is something else she sees in the market.

Rob Kumer | CEO | KingSett Capital | Trends and success strategies in CRE

Season 5 / Episode 4 / 53:34
In this episode, Rob shares his 3 pillars for success in the office category and speaks about the importance of experience and the technological advances impacting all asset classes. KingSett is very focused on decarbonization, and energy management including deep water cooling and implementing new lighting systems.