Bryan Berthold | Global Lead Workplace Experience | Cushman & Wakefield | Developing and supporting workplace experience


DA: Welcome to TEN, the Tenant Experience Network. I’m your host, David Abrams. Today we are connecting with Bryan Berthold, Global Lead Workplace Experience, Cushman & Wakefield. In this episode, we learn about Bryan’s journey to commercial real estate and how he got started in the business. 

Bryan studied architecture and eventually found his way to commercial real estate, helping companies develop their strategic plans around workplace requirements. He then applied his analytical skills to focus on his passion for the experience of people and eventually found his way to Cushman & Wakefield, where he leads their employee experience practice. Bryan acknowledges the big shift we are seeing in the purpose of the office, from the place where you did so, many different things, to a place where the focus is now about building community and connection. Bryan emphasizes the importance of understanding the needs and preferences of the different types of users and how that drives attendance and engagement. It is not one size fits all. 

We went on to discuss Bryan’s thoughts on viewing spaces and then creating an associated experience to support them. This led to a discussion about hospitality and the need to have people at the core of everything owners, operators and occupiers do. Bryan offered a critically important insight into how technology is being used in CRE, specifically having to be more user-centric to better meet emerging needs. We’re excited to share this podcast with you, so, be sure to subscribe to TEN so, you never miss an episode of the Tenant Experience Network. And now I’d like to welcome to the program Bryan, really glad you could be with us today and I’m looking forward to our conversation. 

BB: Thanks David, glad to be here

DA: Awesome. So, I always like to start with a question around your journey to not only your current position role, but to commercial real estate. How did you get started in the business?

BB: Oh, sure. Great question. How much time do we have? I started off, I studied architecture, so, that was my first love and foray, doing a lot of commercial and municipal buildings. The one thing that I always felt I was lacking was just understanding how the business made decisions and the connection to the architectural profession. So, during a little bit of an economic downturn, I took a job at a bank heading their workplace design group. And from there, I just got passionate about solving business problems through real estate. And how does that all come together? Doing workplace, portfolio, service analytics and strategy, just helping companies build five-year, 10 year strategic plans. And in that journey through several different banks, I found that a lot of real estate professionals were not as connected to how they’re actually impacting the people that they serve. So, we have many architects, furniture people, tech department, HR, everyone tends to be in their silos. And I really got a passion for, I really wanted to take my analytical skills a little bit different path to uncover the experience of people, their experience and what drives that out of all the things that we do. Kind of like the way HR looks at engagement. And that led me to Cushman and Wakefield where I was leading their workplace strategy and started developing an experience diagnostic. And I’ve got a great team of people. We call it Experience for Square Foot that we launched in 2017. And in 2020, I actually took this on full time to focus on the employee experience. Kind of, you know, tongue in cheek, I started that on April 1st, 2020, right at the heart of the onset of the pandemic, holding a bag of surveys that can survey people in office space. That kind of became useless, but we pivoted and focused on, well, let’s measure the experience at home. And we found many clients had no clue how people were doing. And that really allowed us to get our foothold to measure people, no matter where they are, uncover their experience and what drives it, whether it’s real estate, tech, amenities, services, location. And it’s been a fun journey. It’s obviously a top priority for many clients right now to really understand how would the decisions they make will keep the talent or allow them to acquire the talent they have. So, that’s my synopsis of my journey.

DA: Very interesting. Well, first of all, we both have in common great sense of timing. Because, of course, we launched Hilo in the latter part of 2019. So, the wind being in our sails in early 2020 and then a few short months into that year, what we were all faced with. So, you and I could both probably spend some time just talking about what that was like, what that moment was like.

BB: Yes. 

DA: Not an easy moment. You also, mentioned sort of the whole notion of the interdisciplinary approach, and I recently had Sophie Wade on my podcast talking about the transformation of work. And she talked about the fact that companies now need to not look at the relationship with their employees through those siloed facilities, HR, management, tech, and so, forth, that it really needs to all come together and those boundaries need to be blurred. So, I’m looking forward to getting your perspective on that as well. I loved your interest in architecture. So, just tell me, why do you think you were so, uniquely suited to this opportunity? And maybe that passion for architecture was maybe something that you think back on. But what else do you think made you the right guy at the right time to lead this new charge?

BB: Oh, sure. Great question. I think architecture, as many people think, oh, it’s the outcome of beautiful buildings or not-so-beautiful buildings. But really what you’re taught is problem-solving skills. I mean, you think about it, you’ve got to take the needs of a client with the reality of construction and strength of materials, HVAC systems, health and safety, and you really got to build this matrix puzzle to say, hey, what’s going to be optimal, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and yet meet the needs of people. I joke that if you can design a house for a married couple, then you can pretty much design anything. Commercial clients, I actually can think, can be easier. But it’s a lot of people with conflicting purposes and desires. And I found that problem-solving set lended itself well to try to figure out, well, how do we ring fence all these disparate functions into a common cause around doing what’s best to make people thrive in the environments we create? So, that’s probably what I find, the thing I enjoy the most. People say, do you miss architecture? No, I love the problem-solving.

DA: That’s right. Very good. Since launching this podcast, and we did so, in July of 2020 as a way to just stay connected with people at a time when we couldn’t personally connect with them, I’ve always tried to provide a real-time view into the industry, not so, much looking at those polarizing proclamations that were coming out in the press and by certain individuals as to what would or wouldn’t be, but really try to get real-time, real people, what was happening. And particularly now, we’re really concerned with the whole conversation around the future of work and how and where people work. And from my perspective, it should be less about where you work and just more about doing great work. And I truly believe that buildings will find their way to still be an important place, an important part of that much larger workplace ecosystem. So, really interested in getting your perspective on that and to kick things off, maybe just, could you share with our listeners how your business is continuing to evolve and innovate? To meet the needs of customers today and sort of what’s influenced, what factors are influencing the directions you’re taking?

BB: Well, I think there’s a lot in that question. To start, I think at Fisherman & Wakefield, we’re very people-centric, client-centric. And what I felt that we have started to bridge the gap is, most decisions 10, 15 years ago were eight people in a room, the C-suite that had a real estate, and we decided what was right. And pulling in that voice of the employee into the real estate forum to really make a conscious effort to know what’s going on with people, what drives their performance, their experience, their engagement, and then let’s fix the things that aren’t working. And we’re doing that in a partnership. I think putting measurement on that and seeing the difference has been one true differentiator that really, I think, catapults the industry from simply a bricks-and-mortar provision of space to actually making work environments part of an arrow in the quiver of the employee engagement problem. You said workplace ecosystem. I think that’s the big shift that we’ve seen. Telework isn’t a new thing, but pushing people to try to leverage telework, you’re lucky to get 3%, 4% of the workforce in it. So, I think it really just accelerated a vision that many real estate leaders already had when everybody was thrust into a telework situation and learning now that, yes, the office has a purpose, but it’s part of this ecosystem, remote work, co-working spaces, flex spaces, and office. We have a variety of things to pick from. I think the biggest learning curve is the purpose of the office, the purpose of home and remote spaces. They’re not all the same. I think people look at this puzzle as how much time and let’s measure attendance, but really the nuance is we’ve seen a big shift in the purpose of the office being from the place you did everything, because you had no choice, to the place where that’s where I go to brainstorm, to be with my team, to socialize, build relationships, learn, connect to the culture. It’s just really about community and connection and not so, much the heads down private kind of work. I think I couple that with, we’ve had three years of flexibility. Good luck taking it away. People will fly to those that continue to offer that. We’ve got a pretty strong perspective on mandates. The big, what you read in the media, are they bad, are they good? Do we need to force this? I think the biggest issue is just the reality of how we’re working. Like you say, freedom to choose where I work, or if I need to be with my people and we need to brainstorm a solution or meet a client, yeah, I need to be in the office. Wait, I got heads down work. I need to crank out something or I’ve got a doctor’s appointment or take my child to school, something that’s critical. People want the flexibility to manage their schedule. And that’s the biggest thing that I see is if you start to mandate days of the week, you don’t know the day I need to meet with my people versus the day I do heads down work. Why don’t you trust me to know how to work with our teams and get the work done? I think there’s a little bit lost in that. And I think many leaders just assume you’re doing the same work at home as you’re doing in the office. So, get your butt in the office. And that’s just a misunderstanding.

DA: For sure. I liked your earlier comment about bringing the employee into the conversation. And even with regard to implementing our technology all around helping building operators better connect to their tenants, their customers from an experiential perspective, we still think there needs to be more collaboration between the building operator and the occupant at the occupier level. And that there’s tremendous opportunity if they pull in the employee as well and make it that all three stakeholders into the conversation. So, I totally think that that’s a really important element going forward. And in terms of just your day-to-day experience, again, I even find the way I work has changed so, dramatically. And now I might go into the office one day at maybe 10 or 10.30 and avoid that morning commute rush hour and work for five or six hours and leave at three or four o’clock and finish my day working at my home office. So, it’s not even that I need to spend a whole day or certain days. What I’m finding is there’s, I’m really thinking a lot about what I’m doing and who I need to do it with and structuring my day accordingly.

BB: Exactly. I find you can put people in the kind of three buckets when it comes to that. You have your local team where my team, my manager, everybody’s in this geography in this address. And it makes sense when we come together, it’s easy to do. The one thing that the pandemic created is a much more distributed way of working. Like myself, I’m in Atlanta, Georgia. My manager’s in London. My team is in DC and San Francisco and Chicago and Singapore. So, I could go into the office, but the people I now interact with are much more dispersed. So, you have these global teams and then you even have regional or market teams in the middle. So, it’s kind of, are they part of a global team and regional team or a local in the building team? That matters. So, trying to understand or force cards, I can see where a global team would get pretty upset because I went into an office with people I don’t interact with just to meet a criteria. No, I think understanding the human behavior component of that and understanding how people are working. And that’s the thing. The nature of work has changed to be much more distributed. How do we enable that? And the office has got a role in it. It’s not everything. You can’t simply turn on attendance as the solution.

DA: Yeah, for sure. Specific to the office footprint, talk to me about what you’re seeing or what you’re thinking in terms of space requirements. How are they changing? And more importantly, from a utilization perspective, what are your observations around, and you mentioned this earlier, the purpose of space and sort of how is that influencing engagement and the experience being offered? What are you seeing right now?

BB: I think the shift I’ve seen is sometimes portfolio analytics and where do we stay or go or build or consolidate have been spreadsheet exercises. You know, cost, efficiency, vacancy, where your labor pools are, which are all valid. Those are a part of it. What we’re seeing now is introducing employee engagement and the workplace experience and the purpose of the office into that equation. So, imagine you’ve got six buildings and your attendance levels and future path suggests you only need four of them. Well, think about in the old days, you didn’t know the experience of people in each building, but imagine if that was now a variable where you could actually know, hey, people love this building or better yet, you find certain types of jobs. Maybe it’s the tech people in back office love this building and the sales people hate it. It’s really learning about how does that building actually provide a positive experience for the right type of talent in the right location. We just did a survey where we found they’re trying to consolidate five buildings into one. And what they found is the preference of the sales team was much different than the back office. Sales based their decision on access to the clients. The back office was on access to their home. So, all of a sudden you see their purpose is different and the sales people are different and we can’t just treat this as one size fits all. It’s really bringing in that human element into this so, that we make smart decisions. And the biggest thing is everybody’s worried about attrition, burnout and people not staying with the company. So, I think all of this, there’s a high sensitivity that whatever we do is mindful of what’s going to make people the most productive.

DA: Yeah, really interesting and interesting that you’re drilling it right down to not only the user, but the different kinds of users and recognizing that they’ll have different preferences based on a variety of variables that you’ve identified. So, that, listen, these are complicated conversations. This is not easy. And I think perhaps given the way you’ve just described it it’s only going to get even more complicated over time.

BB: Oh, we’ve been developing variations of our diagnostic survey. And now we have an experience for square foot for investors and developers that own buildings. You hear about this flight to quality; the class A buildings will win and the B will be converted to housing or some other purpose because not everybody needs the full urban footprint. But now we find that we can go in and actually survey all the tenants to help the landlords understand tech companies love the building, lawyers don’t. What types of programs or retail or, you know concierge events do they, that would draw them in? Why not? It’s too costly to guess. In fact, if you just look at what others are doing that’s not your people. So, I think people be in tune with the heart minds and souls of the people in their building and then just driving focus on what matters most will score the most.

DA: I think that’s really interesting. And I, you know, I for one don’t necessarily think, you know all classes of buildings other than, you know class A and that the flight to quality is going to that that’s the only direction. I think that the, some of these other, maybe not the C but certainly the B, maybe even some C buildings have a fighting chance. And I think to your point, perhaps if they took a more, you know, a more a more targeted approach to the kinds of tenancy and then the kind of environments and programming and service and amenities that they could offer you could actually, you know maybe have some really interesting bespoke type building offerings out there that, you know could be fully leased because they’re they’re just so, targeted in their approach.

BB: You’re a spot on. In fact, we help a lot of clients over the last two years just on amenity studies. We use a max diff analytical process that takes out the bias or you don’t ask people, do you want a gym? What you do is you go through a series of questions that may give four types of amenities totally unrelated. What do you like best? What do you like least? Give them another four, give them another four. And what’s fascinating is we find we can of all the amenities, usually four to five amenities will hit 80 to 90% of the people.

DA: Right.

BB: And we do it through statistical analysis not through guessing. So, don’t guess whether the cafeteria or coffee shop we can get you the biggest bang for the buck just by getting into people and analyzing what they really want and what will drive them in.

DA: It’s fantastic. You know, I love that approach. And, you know, one could argue that, you know, people use the language that there’s been a power shift, you know, to the occupant versus the landlord. But let’s not make it a power shift. Let’s just say, listen, to get the best product and deliver the best experience, those are the kind of insights we need. And the fact that we have the ways, the tools and techniques to do that, it’s a win-win for everyone.

BB: Oh, big time.

DA: Yeah. So, you know, you guys are obviously thinking, you know, using a lot of innovation and creativity and sort of, you know, how you’re addressing these market challenges. If budget and resources were not an issue, someone just said to you, I got a blank check for you, Bryan, what three new initiatives would you undertake to position your business for success over the next three to five years?

BB: To me, there’s one big one. And what that comes down to, our kind of vision for future building, future office is shifting from this stack of departments and things that we would just put in place with our occupancy planning into a stacking of experiences. So, you have your innovation lab, you have your library, you have your training, center, you have your client meeting space, you have all these different zones. And the biggest challenge is you have to operationalize this by getting all these silos. So, the tech platforms, the cleaning people, the people that move people around and do the day-to-day management. And you have to get even food service, you have to get them all to have a common metric around, well, what is an innovation lab experience? And you all have a role in this and we have to work together. So, how do you integrate? It’s kind of like Disney-esque approach to an integrated experience. Each experience zone will have a different set of success factors. And I think to me, that’s the biggest challenge, because if you created a brainstorming center, I can’t do that at home. I would go in for my team to do that. If you told me real estate is on the 14th floor, that’s where your people are, I’m like, well, is anyone going to be in? Maybe I’ll stay at home. In fact, we found out if you just leave it to chance, let’s say you work from home two days a week, we did this study with George Washington University that said you got a 29% chance of running into the colleague you wanted to if you leave it to chance to just show up. So, you got to be really planful. But I think if you created scheduled events, it’s like going to a convention or something. There’s an agenda. You don’t do everything in the same space. You got specific reasons they have an auditorium or a classroom. I think offices will take on that similar feel.

DA: One of the questions I sometimes like to ask is, if we look at the way commercial real estate is currently staffed, and we think about the future, and we think about the current areas of expertise, knowledge, experience, OK, but what does the industry need going forward? What’s missing and what skill sets are going to be required in the future? You already hit on sort of my next question was all in and around recognizing that experience has really become this new driver of utilization and engagement. So, to that end, do you guys think at all about how buildings need to be staffed or what kind of skill sets are required to deliver this new promise?

BB: It may sound old, but I think that mindset, but not just a fulfillment, you know, make everyone happy, but actually purposeful to know, like you could take the results of our survey. I know what drives people. I know what’s important. I know what they care less about. So, how do people that take care of these buildings be in tune with that and spend their dollars and time fixing the things that they know are broken that are going to be most meaningful to people? And then just continuously, you know, it’s like scientific methodology. Measure, improve. Measure and improve and check in. I’ve had move teams and buildings that say, hey, let everyone go at noontime on Friday. We’ll move everyone, and they can come in Monday. I’m like, why not move them while they’re there? You’ll know if it’s working. We can figure out a master plan of how to do that so, they’re not in your way, but wouldn’t it be nice if you hooked them up that they could tell you right away, that’s not my printer, it’s over there.

DA: Right.

BB: Or broken things. How many times have people moved and the things don’t work? So, I think there’s just making yourself more people-centric in that process and being purposeful for what you need to do. And I think these building operators have to have a business mindset. Real estate isn’t that thing that waits for the work order or the decision. A lot of what we do right now is in the C-suite. Right. And that means tech, CIO, the CHRO, business leaders are rowing together around trying to solve this, how we’re going to use the office. It’s up to real estate to stay in the C-suite with the conversation. I’m already hearing, I presented at a CHRO conference and they’re already talking about a future role of global lead of people in place. Right.

DA: Interesting.

BB: And because they’re intertwined, the place can impact engagement, productivity, purpose. Lots of times the natural default is look at the head of HR for that kind of engagement stuff. A lot of real estate groups do report to HR, but I think it’s important for real estate groups to know how they impact the business and the people and be able to articulate it.

DA: For sure. A lot of the technology that’s in and around our space, the language that they use is technology for buildings. And we’ve always said it’s tech for people, that ultimately buildings are all about people. They’re the most important asset, not the building itself. So, I think you obviously see that. And I think the other word that maybe didn’t come out in that conversation, but I think is very much at the crux of what you were saying, is the data. The more your ability to actually track engagement and report in real time generates data, and that data helps you make decisions both for the building operator and for the occupier.

BB: Oh, yes. And we’re finding that, especially just even in building operations, it’s amazing how many people don’t know the satisfaction levels and pertinence of their work order fulfillment. I find a lot of places I go to; they’ve almost abandoned the process. Oh, we used to have a tech guy. He’s not in our building anymore, but you can call this number. And I think you have to treat people as guests, no matter who they are. I lost my nameplate. I’m not here that often. So, it’s almost like I’m visiting a building. So, I think you have to have the mindset that people don’t know where things are. And you have to be easy to do business. So, be there when they show up. Oh, you’re trying to find someone, you find a place, let me help you, but you forgot your power cord, or something’s broken at the desk. I find a lot of people just look around. There’s no one here. I don’t know where to go. Processes have changed. I think we could do a job just being there for people. If you have a bad experience coming back and you’re wondering why people don’t come back, that’s never going to change.

DA: Right. For sure. For sure. Let’s pick up on that conversation in a moment. Let’s take a short commercial break and we’ll be right back.


DA: Now I’d like to welcome back to the show Bryan Berthold, Global Lead Workplace Experience at Cushman & Wakefield. Again, really glad you could be with us and join our conversation. I think we can both agree that commercial real estate continues to be impacted by the introduction of new technologies. They’re playing a significant role in shaping how building operators deliver great customer experience to their tenants. So, I wanted to get from you any thoughts you have on how the building technology stack is evolving, continuing to provide both operational efficiency, but also, really delivering on this whole notion of experience and helping people to better interact in spaces and places. What are you seeing today?

BB: Oh, I think this is just exploding with the advent of AI and what all these technologies can do. It’s a little bit overwhelming for operators and real estate groups to really know, hey, what decisions, which tools should I use? I think it’s equally important that those that are inventing the tools understand, hey, what’s the purpose? What am I doing here? Versus the sizzle of the tool itself. For example, reservation systems. So, all of a sudden, if people aren’t coming in and they don’t have an assigned seat, the importance of a reservation system is high. But I look at it, like, well, you got to think differently. So, why are they reserving? And if people are coming in to be together, then maybe I want to take more of a restaurant reservation system, table for four. I want a four-seat bank. I want the ability to say, hey, I want this seat and I want three more for my colleagues or however it is. Nobody wants to come in and find out you signed a seat on one floor, you’re on another floor, you’re three cubes away, and now I got to get a conference room to reserve to get us together. So, I think thinking how the experience of people coming together and what things are important. One of the biggest things that we find that kind of surprised us, too, that’s an actual driver are lighting levels. So, what we’re finding is, first off, there’s been an increase in neurodiverse issues and mental health and well-being is a big concern. And when people come in, let’s face it, you’ve had an opportunity for three years to adjust your space at home the way you like it. People want that kind of variety to choose from so, they can work in the environments that’s most conducive to their productivity. So, we’ve been introducing low-lit spaces for people that may have chronic migraines or things like that. And how can technology make that process of understanding how to use a space, where to go, and order the things that I need or get the service I need, I think is really important. And it’s also, important for the systems to basically share their data so, we know what’s working, what’s not, and how do the… As I said, these operators have to come together for the sake of an experience. Well, how do you integrate all that data through these various technology solutions? I think we could do a much better job understanding how technology can help pull that together. And that’s where AI and the other inventions should be able to start to pool the data. And it’s going to take another breed of person to basically know, what do I do with all this data? I find sometimes technology can give me 100x what I used to see. And I got lost on page 72, what’s important. But I think those are really important things. I mean, we’ve seen a whole advent of building management systems that led us to be a lot smarter and predictive on how building usage will be so, that we can right-size, through technology, the amount of supply that we have or power or cleaning, because we’re in tune with the people in the building as an organism rather than one size fits all, just run it and here we go. So, I think people are expecting smarter solutions so, that it’s in tune with how they operate, how the people operate, and is the most efficient.

DA: Right. A number of thoughts come to mind. I think that you mentioned how technology partners are playing together. And I think that in the early days, some of the partners that we wanted to connect with on behalf of a building partner, they had licensing fees and setup fees, and they were creating barriers to that collaboration. And I think those are starting to be knocked down, which is a good thing. So, I think that you’re bang on in terms of saying that these technology players need to be able to and set up for success in terms of collaborating to the benefit of the building partner. You talked about some of what people have gotten used to in their home life, and we’ve been saying for some time that offices are becoming more home-like and the home is becoming more office-like. So, how do we blur those boundaries? I think both interesting concepts to be thinking about as we look at the kind of delivery of experience and service we offer.

BB: Yeah. One thing to add around, like on the FM side, we’ve created a whole module within our survey to get further in the details because while we measure the overall experience, we realize there’s this local experience of people that everyone who services the building needs to know, and they have a series of outcomes. So, we look at, is this space and place welcoming? What’s the fulfillment process like? Is it comfortable? Do you feel safe? Is it frictionless to do business with? And then we actually look at all the things that we do around these experiences, whether it’s the services we provide, the food and beverage. We’re looking at sustainability through a whole different lens, the cleanliness, the quality of the space, and the indoor climate. And there’s so, many tech systems that have components of each, but we’re trying to create this dashboard that says, this is through the people kind of weighing in and telling you, here’s our experience, here’s how you’re performing. They don’t care which tech system operates what, but it’s important that everybody look at that and say, hey, I have a role in this. I see where I can help improve. So, it’s also, the operators coming together along with their systems to have that conversation.

DA: Right. You touched on a whole bunch of different points that are clearly important to potential occupiers today. You know, when they’re coming in and looking at new spaces, are they identifying all of these issues that are of concern to them? Are they thinking just beyond, you know, maybe location and access to transit and, you know, the physicality of the space? Are they looking at all these other characteristics and starting to sort of have that be part of their evaluation process?

BB: Yeah, very much so. If you’ve canvassed your people, I know the experience that they’re having. I know what drives it. I know what’s important. I know what’s not. Could be an amenity, could be access to community spaces or something, you know, maybe they have town hall meetings every other week. I mean, every group’s different. You can start putting that hat on when you’re looking at new properties or consolidation opportunities to say, hey, instead of me building it, it’d be great if the building or the neighborhood could provide it. And I already know what I need versus being sold on some bright, shiny objects, but you don’t really know if people matter. But I think it makes a big difference if you understand what they need. The people react positively when they said, wow, you asked me, and now you’re providing space and services that align with what I need. Thank you. You know, that’s how this relationship and bonding goes.

DA: For sure. Awesome. Thanks for sharing that. Our closing speed rounds, an opportunity to get to know you, Bryan, a little bit better. So, looking back, what is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you first started out in your career?

BB: Oh, wow. Probably that it’s okay to get it wrong.

DA: Okay.

BB: Being an architect and analyst, you always want to make sure and check 90 times that it’s right. When I found there’s such a richness to an 80-20 rule. Hey, let’s be smart about it. Let’s use data. If you make a mistake, we’ll learn from it and create an environment where it’s okay to fail in some cases. Hey, we’re going to do this. We’re purposeful. And at the end of the day, we’ll be at the top of the game. Yeah. I wish I had learned that earlier in the process. You know, can I share one other one? This is kind of an embarrassment on myself. As an architect, I did a lot of schools and designed as leading a design department. And I’m flabbergasted today that back then I didn’t talk to the students or teachers. I had building committee superintendents and they drove and we made all the decisions. If I could go back, wow, I didn’t design a classroom that’s the optimal teaching environment for both kids and the teacher. That’s something I wish I had done much sooner in my career.

DA: Well, and I think now you’ve clearly given your understanding of all the multiple stakeholder groups that need to be involved in the conversations around your current business. That’s probably highlighted that fact for you, right?

BB: Well, and school doesn’t train you to be that way. Right.

DA: Of course. Yeah. Bryan, can you name one way in which technology has improved how you live or work?

BB: Oh, that’s to me an easy one, because I travel a lot or used to travel a lot. And now I’ll make it personal. I’ve got a family situation where I’ve got an ill member of the family who needs care. And technology has enabled me to be there for that person at their time of need. When in the past, technology wasn’t there at the level it is today. It’s seamless to everyone I talk to. And you wouldn’t know I’m in a hotel room today, would you? Right. And I think it’s given me that work-life balance to allow me to be at the top of my game, whether I’m at work or whether I’m there for my family. So, I think we owe a lot to that. We may take it for granted. But, you know, when I started off in this profession, we didn’t even have all have computers or mostly desktops. But I think that freedom and flexibility to be on my game no matter what I need to do and do it with, I think, has made all the world of difference for all of us.

DA: Yeah, for sure. What factors do you consider when deciding where to work on any given day?

BB: I think I take into account what I need to do as far as interacting with people or not. If it’s heads down work, like I got to build a proposal and I don’t want to be bothered, I choose the work environments where that’s most conducive. If I need to be with people, it can be virtually or in the office. But not all environments are best for both. I do a lot of work at coffee shops. I have found I love the buzz and energy. I was actually going stir crazy in the beige walls of my office at home. I’m a people person, but I don’t necessarily want to be interrupted. So, I actually like that little distance where there’s things going on. If I want to engage, I can. I don’t have to. And I found I’m hyper-focused. So, I found now it’s a great question because I think people should look at what do they need to do and where they found the most success doing that.

DA: Agree, 100%. And I think that I take a similar approach. If you were not doing what you’re doing right now, what would you be doing instead?

BB: Believe it or not, I’d be a rock star or somebody playing in a band.

DA: A music lover? Are there music skills that you have not yet told me about?

BB: Well, I play the piano. That’s what I was trained on. My parents are from Germany. I started off on the accordion. So, there you go. Then I realized what I was doing and got old enough to switch to the keyboards. But I just love music in general, all genres. When I am focusing, I always have music on. I always have my headphones in. Sometimes you have to if you’re in a coffee shop.

DA: Very good. So, if we see you in the future at a concert hall and I see your name up in lights, we’ll know you’ve taken a shift.

BB: Don’t hold your breath.

DA: Bryan, thanks so, much for joining me today. Really enjoyed getting to know you. Really enjoyed our conversation. Looking forward to continuing the conversation and seeing how the world of work continues to evolve and the role in place for buildings and the value that built space can still have in today’s much larger workplace ecosystem. So, again, thanks for contributing to this conversation.

BB: Thanks. The journey has only just started. So, we’ve got a long way to go.

DA: I like to say we’re kind of rounding first base. I don’t know what your thoughts are if you use the baseball analogy where we are on this journey.

BB: I agree. I think we’re somewhere between first and second. We’re nowhere near home.

DA: I’m with you. All right. Lots of conversation still to have. Thanks so, much again for joining me and we’ll be in touch.

BB: Okay. Thanks, David.

DA: Thanks. I want to thank Bryan Berthold for joining me on this episode of TEN and for contributing to the global conversation around buildings being part of a robust ecosystem, helping to build great companies and that they are vital in the effort to cultivate and support great people and teams. The future of the workplace will likely take many forms and we’ll continue to explore what that looks like together.

Subscribe to TEN for more conversations with leading CRE industry professionals and experts who all have something to say about TEN’s experience and the future of the workplace. We love hearing from you, so, if you enjoyed this episode of TEN, please share, add your rating and review us through your preferred podcast provider. 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 and 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.