Joanna Frank, President & CEO at Center for Active Design | How healthy buildings drive ROI | 37:55


DA: Welcome to TEN, the Tenant Experience Network. I’m your host David Abrams. We are excited to be sharing with you a series of interviews that we recently completed with guests that appeared on the 2021 Power 100 list of commercial real estate’s most powerful players published by Commercial Observer. Our first Power 100 guest is Joanna Frank, President and CEO of the Center For Active Design, which is the operator of Fitwel, a certification system that optimizes buildings to support health. In this episode, we’ll learn about Joanna’s journey to her current role, where she advances design and development practices to foster healthy and engaged communities. We will tap into her unique skill sets, including a love of science, her never ending curiosity, and a passion for continuous learning. We will hear her views on the impact that investors are having on commercial real estate and the connection between healthy buildings and ROI. Joanna will also talk about her thinking around trust and its implications, as well as how the real stresses associated with working from home will continue to be a factor as we move forward. We’re excited to be sharing this podcast with you. So be sure to follow TEN, So you never miss an episode of the Tenant Experience Network. Now I’d like to welcome Joanna to the show. Really glad you could be with us today.

JF: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

DA: All right. Let’s start with your journey to your current position as President and CEO of the Center For Active Design, which is the operator of Fitwel, a certification system that optimizes buildings to support health. How did you get started? Walk me through it and maybe share a little bit more about your current role.

JF:  Sure, absolutely. So I’ve had a few careers up until this point, but they kind of make sense I think now. I actually started as a real estate developer. I had my own small business building buildings up until 2010. And so you, I think everyone knows what happened in 2008 with the financial collapse in the US. We were working in New York which was hit pretty badly by that collapse. So, in 2010 I actually joined the Bloomberg administration when Michael Bloomberg was mayor of New York city. And I was invited to run a program called the Fresh Program. And Fresh was building supermarkets in underserved neighborhoods, bringing together real estate developers with tax credits and changing zoning and working with the supermarket industry as well. So that was fun. Built about 12 supermarkets in 18 months, and then moved on to running the Active Design Program, which is kind of where that’s a more obvious route to go from that, to where we are today. So Active Design was new in those days, this is 2010, 2011. So Active Design had just published the Active Design guidelines under the Bloomberg administration, which was really the first time that public health research had been translated into strategies that were specifically for designers and for building owners and for people working in the kind of building industry, development industry. So this was a seminal work. I wasn’t there for the publication of the Active Design guidelines, but I was hired to direct the program immediately after the publication. So, from there this became very popular using health research to inform design and development practice. And then we launched the Center for Active Design at the end of the Bloomberg administration, actually Michael Bloomberg himself launched it. Which was the last time we had the full press Corps at any launch that we’ve had. So, yeah, so we continued that work. We obviously started in New York city, but we very quickly became a national and then global in our reach. And we really do the same thing today that we translate public health research and data into practical design, operational strategies for all scales of real estate. So whether you’re building an infrastructure, a project, whether it’s a master plan, whether it’s a single building or just a fit out of a single space, all of it is can be informed by the work we do and Fitwel the building certification that we run is really kind of taking all of that practice and putting it together into something that’s easily packaged and that folks could use at scale.

DA: Cool. So in terms of that journey, why do you think you were so uniquely suited to this opportunity, sort of where you’ve landed and as you know, anything specific that’s helped you to be successful, whether that be skills, mentors, colleagues, books?

JF:  Sure. I mean, I’ve had great mentors along the way. Our first board chair, David Burney, was amazing. He used to head up the design and construction agency during the Bloomberg administration. So who was responsible for all buildings in New York city. So he’s been a great mentor over the years. I think that I really am a polymath. I love a little bit of everything. So really important, our team at the Center of Factor Design is very multi-sectoral. So we have folks who are from research. We have folks who are from real estate, from finance, from design. So it’s really about, ‘how do you translate between all of these different professions and make it relevant to the real estate industry?’ So I actually was going to study medicine when I was at school. So I actually have a real interest in science. I’m just happy that I didn’t become a doctor. I think everyone should be happy I didn’t. I think I’m much better at doing what I do, but I’m very curious, myself. And I think everyone on our team is very curious and we really enjoy continuously learning from each other. It keeps it interesting, right? This isn’t just a kind of rinse and repeat process that we’re working in. The research continues to evolve. New research studies are published on a weekly, monthly basis, especially at the moment. And so kind of having that thirst and interest and keeping it really fresh and that way, and then I just love buildings. I love construction. I love the process of creating buildings, running buildings, a real estate developer financing buildings. So I guess, yeah, I don’t want to do one thing if my day has 10 different things in it, then I’m a happy person.

DA: Yeah, totally get that. And again, when I began my career in marketing communications I quickly identified the niche opportunity to work in commercial real estate and started working in buildings. And I don’t think the average person has an appreciation for what a building really is and what it takes to make it run. And so when you say I love buildings, I actually kind of share a little bit of that geekiness around just loving and appreciating buildings that have the opportunity to be in every part of the building and experience and see all that goes into making them work. And, they are like small cities. With government and politics and security and maintenance. And I just think they’re fascinating. And so I share that sort of love of buildings with you.

JF:  Great.

DA: In terms of, listen, we’re living through a pandemic from my perspective. It’s been absolutely horrible. That being said, I don’t think we can really continue to use it as an excuse for why we can’t move on or why we can’t be successful. It really requires digging deep. So, my team’s sort of mantra is this is the time to be better, do better and build something better. So if we gave you an extra a hundred thousand dollars, or maybe a million dollars a budget right now, what would you do with it? How would you spend it and why?

JF:  So, I would love to have that money right now, because I think what we’re seeing is the demand for healthy buildings has just grown exponentially because of COVID. It was a real accelerator in demand where before COVID, there were a small subset of developers, owners, investors, etc, who were interested in healthy buildings, but it was really, it was really kind of the early adopters. But now we’ve seen this massive jump in demand because of pressure from investors around ESG reporting because of pressure from tenants and their employees to actually provide a building that is demonstrably health promoting. So there was this unbelievable spike in demand. And we, as an organization, can answer a lot of the questions that people are asking. I get on many calls where people are like, “Oh, if only somebody could tell us what to do.” And it’s like, well, we actually, we can, like, there is a massive body of evidence that shows us how to create environments that are optimized for people and for people’s health. So we do not need to reinvent the wheel. We have the answers already. It’s just that you may not know them, and you may not be aware of the evidence-based, but there’s a 100 years of public health research that we pull from. Our databases have 5,600 peer review research studies that are directly relevant to aspects of our buildings, our operation, the strategies, the location of our buildings. So, the information exists about how to create environments that are optimized for people. It’s just that information isn’t necessarily in the right person’s hand. So if I had an extra million dollars, ’cause a hundred thousand I could spend tomorrow, if I had an extra million dollars, I would want to get the word out and really get this knowledge into the hands of everybody that’s making this decisions, because I think anybody who’s working within buildings, whether you a facility manager, whether you’re a building manager, whether you’re the asset manager on the kind of investment side, you are actually impacting people’s health with the decisions that you make. And you can do that in a way that’s informed and a way that is going to have a measurable impact on their, not just the health of the occupants of the building, but also the way that the building itself performs financially, because we know that employee satisfaction results in tenant satisfaction, tenant satisfaction, stickier tenants. So everybody wants to take your tenants, or you want to differentiate yourself in the marketplace right now, you are going to have to be able to answer that question about how is my building optimized for health. These were questions that weren’t being asked before. And what I want to just kind of reiterate is the answers are already there. You do not need to reinvent the wheel, these exist. So it’s really, I would like to just increase the awareness of the industry about the research base and the fact that it’s all, all already been translated for them into strategists that are directly relevant to their, to their work and to what they’re doing on a day to day their decision-making and the evidence-base around the increase in the financial return of those buildings is also very strong. An MIT study came out in December of 2020 that actually showed that buildings that have a healthy building certification will command rents of between 4.4 and 7% above their peers who didn’t have healthy building certifications. So this was the big piece of information we were waiting for. And then of course it happened in the middle of a pandemic, and we were like, oh yeah, whatever. We don’t need to make a return on investment argument anymore for health, because obviously the demand now is so great that everybody understands that there is a return on investment argument to remain, but still it exists. And that was actually with pre COVID data. So that’s only going to increase post COVID. Although it may now become a red premium from our discussions with the industry. Now they’re looking at how to avoid discounts. So it isn’t that you’re going to be able to charge more for a healthy building, but if your building isn’t healthy, you’re going to have difficulty commanding the rent that you’re looking for and that your peers are achieving.

DA: Right, so if awareness is still, the opportunity, and yet there’s been this massive demand, sort of the to quantify, where do you think you are in terms of what percentage of the market is truly aware of what they could do or should be doing and sort of where where’s that market upside? Are you at 50%? Is it 25%?

JF:  I think 20%. I think that everybody understands they need to do something. I don’t think everybody understands what that something is. Not, not in a real nuts and bolts way. Yes, they, they like, oh, we have to do something about air quality, or I need to do something around managing the kind of flow of people in the building in order to build trust. Well, they probably wouldn’t use that language. I’m not sure that the industry, as a whole, knows that the way you present a building and the way you present yourselves, as far as your communications and so on, is actually making a difference about how much the occupants of those buildings trust you like literally measurably trust you. So if they see a dead tree outside a building, it doesn’t matter that much about whether you’ve increased your indoor, your fresh air intakes, because when you deliver that message, they’re already feeling apprehensive and that their safety maybe not, optimized and it’s building because that, that negative impact on trust that comes from a lack of maintenance and so on, is a pretty major hurdle that you’ll need to overcome. So I think it’s understanding that you can’t just do one thing and it’s going to make all the difference. I think it’s a real sea change in buildings that we make, we take our kind of perception. We make our opinions from everything that we’re being fed. Like when I walked to a building into that building, how I’m greeted, what the elevator looks like, whether the fingerprints on the, on the touch things, how, whether your staff are knowledgeable, whether you’re building staff are knowledgeable about all of the practices that are, being put in place in that building, like all of these things incrementally are going to make a difference about whether I trust you or not. And if I don’t trust you, I’m not going to come back to the building.

DA: So really interesting. I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms. We think a lot about tenant experience given that the platform that we’ve built and that we’re bringing to market, we’ll talk more about tenant experience shortly, but just, I haven’t really thought about it in terms of the notion of trust. We talk about satisfaction and happiness and their experience and making things easier and better, but the notion of trust is a really interesting framework to sort of look at it. And you’re right. I totally get that, that when you, these visual cues that you might see, don’t necessarily automatically acquaint yourself with whether you’re happy, but they would, you know, sort of trigger that notion of evaluating. Do I trust this, this building, this environment, this building operator and so forth. So we’ll, I’m sure we’ll talk more about that. That’s a pretty neat concept. And I think there’s lots more to unpack in and around that. I think you’ll agree that there’s still a lot of uncertainty in the market. Although certainly as we all become vaccinated there, we’re certainly moving in the right direction. And we’re hearing about cities including New York that are certainly fast-tracking that reopening process. So I feel pretty confident that there’s going to be a massive return to work place. I think, although there are prognosticators on both sides about, you know, fully returning or never returning, I do believe that I do believe we’re going to return, but I really strongly, I’m convinced that this notion of flexibility is going to continue to evolve as an important and critically interesting theme in commercial real estate. And we’re going to recognize that people are going to need to work from anywhere. With that said, including the home, of course. So with that said, what are your thoughts on the implications for the multifamily and office sector?

JF:  Sure, absolutely. And we work across both those sectors. So, these are the kinds of different conversations using the same tools. So we are seeing design changes happening in the multi-family sector. Certainly, you know, with the new construction, we’re seeing folks, the architect actually just did a presentation with a couple of architectural firms that how they’ve made changes, that creating more third spaces, they’re creating more office space, even kind of an office closet, rather than having a large kind of entry closet. These have become like office closets now where you can have like a second desk within a space, having two different entryways within even a smaller apartment to kind of allow for people to be working and living in the same spaces, having more outdoor space as well, both personal outdoor space and having larger balconies. So you could maybe even eat out there, but really having another place to go that is outside. I think everybody has really understood the value of being able to get outside, especially when we’re locked down and especially when we’re feeling threatened. if you can be outside within a space you control. I think that that has really helped people’s mental health. Creating more outdoor spaces as well within the building itself than shared spaces, but that are divided up into smaller spaces. So folks can actually meet, or, be in kind of small family groupings, but kind of in a larger outdoor space, but not the, sort of the same idea of having large gatherings. So there have been a lot of design changes that are happening at the residential side. I mean, the residential market was really at the forefront of this. I mean, they were really having to make changes in real time with people in their buildings. So I think that, you know, prior to COVID there had already been an amenity war where everybody was kind of like adding more and more and more amenities into the spaces and that’s how they were using. That’s how they were differentiating themselves within a marketplace and then suddenly no managers. So then how do you continue to differentiate yourself in a market when you can’t be offering the yoga classes and so on? So it’s been a real, a lot of innovation within the residential space. The other thing that’s really changed on the residential side is that from the perspective of Fitwel, it didn’t see a lot of demand for health from the residents of the residential unit. So individuals weren’t demanding that their homes be health promoting. I mean, they were using other words for it, quality of life, or I really want to be close to a park. And these things are all health promoting obviously, but they weren’t specifically saying we value health. That has changed. So now there is more, there’s more demand coming from the individuals and people are already actually asking for health that I think that the residential markets, the residential developers are really now kind of focusing on how do we optimize health rather than optimize this kind of broader idea of just amenities generally, everything now has to be about, yes I’m going to do a yoga class because it actually is great for your mental health, or I’m going to create a kitchen space because it’s really good for gatherings and that’s good for, you know, combating social isolation or, you know, whatever. So I think that before COVID in the residential space, that the connection between the actual design and the location, and so on of those buildings, the overt reference to health wasn’t selling in the marketplace. People weren’t looking at that as a primary driver of where they were buying or renting, but now they are. So it’s really changed. The residential market has really changed. It’s our fastest growing user group.

DA: And it makes sense. I mean, if we believe that work from anywhere is going to continue. And all of a sudden now, you know, a third of your building does not vacate, you know, Monday to Friday nine to five on different days or our quarter, or whatever the number is, the whole experience that you need to offer has completely changed. And you’re right. Some of those amenities that may have been drivers before, we just need to think differently going forward in terms of what our residents’ needs are and on the office side, any insights on that side as well?

JF:  Yeah. So, I mean, I think the office is in an interesting position now where you’re really actually competing now directly with residential properties in order to get those same employees into your space and get them out of the residential spaces that they’ve become accustomed to working in. So now rather than competing, maybe with other offices, you’re actually competing with people’s homes. So that’s really different. And I think that actually does change what employers are looking for in their spaces, if they’re saying, “okay, I now need to provide my employees with an office that provides them with an environment that is better than the one that they have.”

DA: Or has elements of home.

JF:  With the elements of home that they want. So they want to have that kitchen ’cause they’ve got really used to just being able to go make a cup of tea. I mean, but a nicer kitchen, not just the kind of generic office kitchen, I think the green space having a lot of greenery within an office, I think pre COVID was seen as something that just the tech industry was doing well, I’m here to tell you it’s good for everybody’s health. It is actually incredibly effective when it comes to mental health and alleviating depression and anxiety and so on. Just being able to see nature is really good for us. So I think that there’s going to be a lot more kinds of lush offices that don’t look like sterile offices, sterile offices are not good for us as creatures. Our mental health is not really supported by that sterile office that you can’t control anything in. The thing that we like about home is we can control the window. We can open the windows, we can walk outside for a minute. We can water a plant, we can do all of these things. And so I think a lot of that choice and a lot of that kind of behavior that we do have a benefit from at home needs to be brought into the office. And we were already seeing that, right. We were already seeing offices that had a lot more of those kinds of flexible spaces and spaces that had more comfort about them rather than just kind of like factory office kind of their lines of hard desks. So yeah, the office is going to have to work hard to get folks back on a regular basis. I mean, the evidence-base is on the side of the office. We know that the stress levels of people who work from home are actually higher than the stress levels of people who work in an office environment. So people may not know this, but I think it’s really important for employers to talk about it. There was a big study actually by the UN again, pre COVID. So this is not because of COVID that the stress was being seen, but people who work at home were 40, 40% of them were reporting high levels of stress compared to 25% in an office environment. So we already know that it is a more stressful environment to work at home than in that shared office environment. So I think that understanding what that does to the long term health outcomes of folks and kind of encouraging people to come into the office, because it’s actually beneficial. It’s good for mitigating social isolation, which is one of the leading causes of death in the world. So it actually shortens your life expectancy. So there’s social isolation that we may have got used to it, but it is not good for us. So we need to break that and we need to start being social, like interacting with each other socially again, because it is actually good for us. We’re social creatures.

DA: Absolutely. My team we’ve been working remote for the last year. We just planned a date, a team picnic out in the park for July 9th. And literally we’ve had new team members that have joined that we’ve not met in person. So I agree. And to know that we’re starting down that path now of reengaging and reconnecting, even to know, it’s weeks away, it actually adds fuel to a certain energy and all of us. And it’s pretty exciting. So eventually see if that study is repeated. Now I suspect those numbers would be even more dramatic.

JF:  Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’ve seen research looking at kind of anxiety levels of, I think it’s the U.S study, anyway four out of 10 adults during COVID are now suffering from anxiety. So I mean, and that’s not, I mean, it’s a different study, where it’s not looking at home versus work, but general anxiety and depression is greatly up in the workforce age population. It’s even higher in our team population. So, and actually even the highest of girls, teen girls have the highest levels of depression and anxiety through COVID.

DA: Wow, all right, well, let’s need to see what, how all that continues to unfold. We’re going to take a quick break and we’ll be right back.

Commercial Break

DA: We’re back with Joanna Frank, President and CEO of the Center of Active Design. So the CRE industry is moving faster and faster towards what I believe is their core business. Not so much about building ownership, but rather it’s about creating the best customer experience for their tenants. We believe that ultimately buildings are places for people. So I’d love to get your perspective on how you think we will define and deliver tenants experience in 2021 and beyond?

JF:  No, I totally agree. I think that this has been the big awakening. So you asked me before, like how many people are aware of health, I’d say still a minority, how many people are aware of the fact that that business is directly tied to the individuals? In our buildings, I would say that’s pretty much everybody. Oh, no, I’d say that’s everyone.

DA: Do you think, Okay. I think there’s still, I think there, I think there’s still a gap from what we see in so much as people truly understand that and maybe they think it may be that, but really really coming to terms with that feeling is there, you talked about, you needed to increase awareness about what you’re doing. I still feel like I’m educating people on why experience is so important.

JF:  Well, so we just did a big global survey of investors. So the investors represent 5.7, 5 trillion in assets under management. In fact, we did the survey with the UN and BentallGreenOak based up there in Toronto. So we did this global survey and we did it kind of like, how has COVID changed your perceptions on kind of your investment strategy basically. I mean, obviously they’re prioritizing health now because of COVID, but one of the big revelations was that the investors pretty much universally, which is why I say, I think that this has this penny has dropped to these for investing in real estate, is that their financial outcomes, the financial outcome of an institutional investor is directly connected to the individuals in the individual buildings that they invest in, in a way that they were not thinking about it before for their own their own talking about it. So before, you know, they’re, they’re investing in a company with a portfolio of buildings, but they want then going down to kind of like maybe individual assets, but not thinking about the individuals who are in those buildings. And now that there has been this connection between institutional investors and they understand that the health and happiness satisfaction, the trust, all of those things, the individuals, how they are fairing is directly now tied to their, to their performance, their financial performance. So if investors have made that connection, I would say the real estate industry is going to make that connection really soon, because if you want to secure financing for many of the folks we spoke to, you’re really going to need to be able to demonstrate how you’re promoting the health of the tenants or the individuals in your tenant companies. Because, because they say there’s a financial risk. If you can’t make it, you can’t answer that question. And that’s the big change that we’ve seen happen. Health before COVID was really seen as a nice to have in the market. It was seen as a market differentiator. It was good for reputation, but it wasn’t essential. Now investors are seeing health as a risk. And that puts it in a completely different category. It is now a priority. You have to be able to be able to address those risks, that you have to be able to talk about how you are promoting the health of the individuals within the building, how you’re protecting the health of the individuals in the building, because it’s directly tied to occupancy and occupancy is directly tied to the financial performance of the building. And, you know, that’s, that is the business of real estate.

DA: Absolutely. Listen, I think there’s, it all began with the notion of build it and they will come. And it was really just about the physicality of the space, but you’re right. A lot of that has changed. COVID is certainly accelerated that certainly from a health perspective and our hope is we’re going to continue just to see a greater appreciation for not the key general contact, not the person that signs the lease, but ultimately, each and every occupant each and every person, and they are ultimately, we like to actually call them customers. I often have to remind them that when I say customer, I mean your tenants, that they’re ultimately the decision makers and they’re going up with that elevator each and every day and the happier they are and the healthier they are, and the more enjoyable the experience is for them. I guess that all links back to the better the investment it’s going to be for those investors as well.

JF:  Absolutely and again, the same survey, and I can send you a link to the survey to share with folks. There’s a lot of interesting data in here, but the same survey investors identify tenants as the sector that was driving demand for health. So not the owners and not them as investors, but the tenants and that’s different. That’s changed. That was not the case before COVID. So it’s a really big shift. I mean, if we can continue to focus on the individuals in the building, then we’re going to see some really big changes in the way that buildings are designed and managed because it’s just when you change, when you change what you prioritize it will have consequences.

DA: Right, and that’s really the foundation of why we created HILO is really just the ability to create better connections between building owner/operator and their tenants, their customers, and just open up those lines of communication and just really changed the dynamic where it used to be. Again, the only person that really cared about her or needed to connect with or communicate with was that key general contact. And they were the center of my universe, but we really believe that each and every person that is in your facility is in your building is just so critically important. So I think there’s a lot of synergy in our thinking there.

JF:  Yeah, absolutely.

DA: Can you share any details on anything new that you’re working on, a challenge you’re facing in light of the current world circumstances that you think our listeners might find interesting?

JF:  Sure. So a big challenge is how to grow fast enough, as I alluded to first earlier, but we are really using our technology. So Fitwel is a technology platform. So where we’re really looking at, like, how can we leverage tech even further in order to meet the demand of scale, because we’re already talking about scale now. Folks are not using Fitwel, they’re not using health promoting strategy on one or two buildings, they using it across that portfolio. So that scale brings challenges. It’s also obviously a great challenge to have. So one of the new products that we’re doing is something that at the moment we called aggregate, we have to decide what to call it, but it’s like, how do you, how do we create a really efficient process? Where if you have multiple buildings on a single site, how do we ensure that you can go through the process really efficiently and not have to kind of think of them as individual buildings, but what do you think of them as a collection of buildings? So this is going to really help, especially residential properties, where they have maybe, you know, 10 similar footprint buildings on a site. Like what are the shared amenities? What are the shared attributes that are promoting health? And then what do we need to look at individually for a building? So again, it’s kind of like, how do we move faster and more efficiently and ensure that more people are getting accepted as to this information about health and how to optimize this, and then how do we feed that data back to our users? So they can then use that data to sell to let the tenants know what they’re doing, that their investors see what they’re doing, and demonstrate to their investors what they’re doing. So kind of, it’s a feedback loop as well that we’re really trying to ensure because demand is there because suddenly everybody actually wants to know about health before we were really always talking about the business case for health. And we were using the business case as the reason to promote health. So we were rarely talking about health outcomes. We were talking about health outcomes only in the context of how they increase the value of a property, or how they were good for a company. We worked with a lot of companies as well, who are not property owners. We work with a lot of the tech companies, and then it’s about employee satisfaction and employee retention and attraction. And so, but now we can actually talk about health. Suddenly, I actually want to just talk about health. I mean, we get to talk about mental health for the first time in 10 years. Nobody wants to talk about mental health. Like we’re real estate professionals. I don’t want to talk about oral health, but you should because it has a direct correlation with performance and satisfaction and staff retention. So it’s a brave new world as far as we know.

DA: Well, it’s, building some places for people. This all makes sense. And I look forward to continuing our conversation around opportunities, to collaborate and find ways to bring perhaps what we’re each doing together. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there. Heading into our closing speed round. Just some fun questions to round out our discussion, our conversation today. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

JF:  Fly.

DA: Totally get that, totally get that. Once travel reopens, and we’re more comfortable moving in about what city or country would you want to travel to first and why?

JF:  So I’ve got to go to London. I haven’t seen my parents for a year and a half, so that’s also easy. So as soon as they lift that quarantine, I will be on a plane.

DA: Awesome. Awesome. And what do you do when you’re not working? I know you bring a lot of passion clearly to what you do, but in your downtime, what are you, what are you thinking about? What are you doing?

JF:  Oh, I love to garden. I mean, I am British after all. So you take that out of a bridge. So I like to garden. I love to, I love to cook. I love to bake. So yeah, just those kind of simple things, I like to draw, I did, I went to art school a very long time ago.

DA: Very nice, very nice. Number one thing you miss about the workplace?

JF:  People. I’m a people person. I miss my team. I miss being amongst us. I miss, yes, I miss people.

DA: Okay. Quick, quick segue way on that question, what are your plans for bringing your team back together and anything you can share?

JF:  Yeah, so we are going to be, obviously we will be serving our team because we’ll be doing what they want because that’s also really important. So there’ll be an integral part of the process, but we will be getting, we don’t have a physical office right now. We will be having another physical office in the future, but it may be more of a kind of clubhouse then it certainly won’t be everybody come in nine to five and sit in rows. Not that it better embodies everything that we talk about. So I’m hoping it can be a fabulous space with no pressure, no pressure.

DA: All right. Well, I look forward to seeing that. Okay and lastly, as we’ve all been, mostly working in living at home and certainly doing a lot of streaming and TV watching, any favorite movie series or show that you’ve tuned into that you’ve enjoyed.

JF:  So I’ve loved all of those Nordic shows that people were watching, those political dramas. I can’t pronounce any of their names. I also just watched Shetland on the BritBox. So, you know, again, I guess I am still very British and I enjoyed that. Both of my kids live in Scotland. So that gets a little bit of connection to Scotland and then football, lots and lots of football and I’m very happy that the Euros on right now, British football.

DA: Yes I assumed that.

JF:  I have plenty of entertainment.

DA: Great, well I too like Shetland, one of my favorites. I only wish it continued. Listen Joanna it was just a pleasure to chat, connect and to get to know you more. I look forward to continuing the conversation and checking in on your progress and definitely looking for opportunities to collaborate down the road and see how we can help buildings be more successful and buildings be healthier and connect with people and ensure that these places for people are truly all that they can be. So thank you so much.JF:  Absolutely, thank you.

DA: All right, you be well and travel safely.

MM: Thank you, I appreciate it.

DA: Take care. I want to thank Joanna Frank for joining me on today’s episode of TEN and for sharing her journey from her early beginnings of commercial real estate, to now leading the team at the Center for Active Design and Fitwel. Great learning for all our listeners and an opportunity to gain insight into what it takes to become an innovation leader.

Please be sure to follow TEN, for future discussions with leading professionals and industry experts, who all have something to say about the impact of technology on tenant experience in the built world. We love hearing from you. So if you enjoyed the episode of TEN please share, add your rating and review us through your preferred podcast provider. If you are 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.

Celebrating 60 Conversations on TEN

Hard to believe that it’s been over 3 years since we launched the Tenant Experience Network (TEN) podcast as a way to connect with people at a time when we all felt isolated. Host and HILO Co-founder and CEO, David Abrams, has had the opportunity to interview some amazing people from leading CRE and Proptech companies, and in real-time, share what’s really happening in buildings and communities across North America. David wanted the program to provide a true pulse on what was actually going on in the industry, across all asset classes, without being sensational or polarizing, as is often found in the media.

Peter Riguardi | Chairman & President, New York Region | JLL | Lessons in selling CRE in NYC

Season 4 / Episode 15 / 28:35
In this episode, Peter says he seeing an increase in people coming back to the workplace and occupiers using the office to competitively attract talent. He has also noticed a significant push to the best office buildings, regardless of their location. With 460 million square feet of office space in NYC, only time will tell how much space use will have to change.

Celebrating 60 Conversations on TEN

Hard to believe that it’s been over 3 years since we launched the Tenant Experience Network (TEN) podcast as a way to connect with people at a time when we all felt isolated. Host and HILO Co-founder and CEO, David Abrams, has had the opportunity to interview some amazing people from leading CRE and Proptech companies, and in real-time, share what’s really happening in buildings and communities across North America. David wanted the program to provide a true pulse on what was actually going on in the industry, across all asset classes, without being sensational or polarizing, as is often found in the media.

Peter Riguardi | Chairman & President, New York Region | JLL | Lessons in selling CRE in NYC

Season 4 / Episode 15 / 28:35
In this episode, Peter says he seeing an increase in people coming back to the workplace and occupiers using the office to competitively attract talent. He has also noticed a significant push to the best office buildings, regardless of their location. With 460 million square feet of office space in NYC, only time will tell how much space use will have to change.