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

Transcript

DA: Welcome to TEN, the Tenant Experience Network. I’m your host, David Abrams. Today we are connecting with Ryan Speers, partner and COO, Workhaus. In this episode, we learn about Ryan’s early beginnings leading a marketing agency. During that time, Ryan had a yearning to build something, rather than just serve as a consultant. He shares how he met his business partner and ultimately ventured into the co-working industry to become a partner at Workhaus. Today, the company has grown to 12 locations in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo and Calgary. Ryan acknowledges that his naivete was an early advantage to entering a new industry with no existing playbook and rules evolving every day.

I loved hearing about Ryan’s appreciation for the different skills he and his partner each bring to the table. He highlights some of the different scenarios that his business is now helping to address as companies assess their real estate strategies. To do that, there is a greater reliance on technology and predictive analytics solutions to help meet these emerging needs. If given a blank check to invest in the business, Ryan would put 100% of the funding to expanding across Canada. His co-working 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. 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 Ryan to the show. I’m really glad you could be with us today. How are you doing?

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?

RS: David, doing well, thank you. The pleasure is all mine.

DA: All right. Well, let’s dive in. I’m looking forward to our conversation. To get started, tell us about your current role, the journey to your current position. How did you get started in the business?

RS: Well, back in 1989, starting in Winnipeg when my mother gave birth. I’ll take it a couple of steps forward from there. 

DA: We’re going way back.

RS: Way, way back. Yeah. So I’ve got a little bit of a storied career, I suppose you could say. Coming out of school, dove directly into the startup game. So like most startups, had a couple of failed or learning experiences, as I like to say. Took a lot of those learnings, the experiences gained and gathered over the course of trying to raise capital for a company, building a team, building a product. And ended up opening up a marketing agency. So I did that with a couple of partners. We saw some relative successes over our tenure. But one of the concerns and issues that I always had was I never felt like I was really building something. And when you’re contractually working with somebody else, you’re helping somebody else build their business. Not to downplay or insult what consultants as a whole do, but it didn’t really resonate well with me. So when I was doing so, I ended up selling off my stake in the agency and we ended up all parting ways. And I was working as an independent consultant trying to figure out what my next step was. In comes my business partner, Adrian. So he actually ended up knowing the, funny enough, owner of a bar, corner place, kitty corner to the St. Lawrence Market, downtown Toronto. So the owner of that bar, I believe it was his aunt that owned the building and she had some vacancy in the building. I believe a few floors, difficulty filling the space. So he ended up talking to her and kind of a similar background where, you know, he actually came from the chiropractic field. He was working on a medical facility that offered a whole different array of services and whatnot. So he ended up chatting with the aunt about an opportunity to take over one of those floors and introduce co-working. So working with her on the rent, putting in a lot of sweat equity and getting everything set up and structured and off to the races. And as he started to see successes and build revenue, he would end up achieving whatever the rental rate was that she had put forth. So funny enough, I looking for a space to get out of the house as I typically don’t work well at home and I’m privy to distraction, ended up as a member at this space when it very first opened. So I ended up getting chatting with Adrian and, you know, he’d been in the market for a partner for a long time. Not just somebody to finance the opportunity, nor, you know, somebody to come in from a strategic standpoint, but somebody to really get down and dirty. Like when I quite literally mean everything from greeting members, working on marketing strategies through to scrubbing toilets because we were a raw, gritty startup with little to no capital. So we got to talking and I absolutely fell in love with the business model, saw that there was a huge opportunity in the way that people were working, changing as one that actually lived it and joined as a member. I drank the Kool-Aid most certainly. So next thing I knew, I fired all my clients, partnered in with Adrian and started working together on that first location at 100 Front Street East. From there, we ended up essentially using that as a beta test to gauge what the market interest was like, determine, OK, how does the how did the unit economics work for desk pricing? What kind of makeup of the space really makes sense? So we took that model and we ended up presenting it to our first landlord partner. Again, with with no money at this point, we hadn’t raised any capital, nor have we done so to date. Essentially approached them and said, hey, we’ve got this really interesting model. We would love to open a co-working space with you. If you’ve got some something that’s vacant, a space that perhaps you’re willing to get a little bit more creative with and take a chance on, we’d love the opportunity to work together here. So they took that leap of faith. We ended up blowing that out of the park, took that same model, replicated it with them again in another space, took that same model, replicated it with another landlord. And then over the span of the next three years, we grew from one space to 12, 10 of which are in Toronto, one in Kitchener-Waterloo and one in Calgary.

DA: Amazing, amazing. Well, you know, you and I definitely have had some parallels. I started in the marketing communications world and then switched to the startup world. So slightly inversed. But, you know, we both end up with a focus on commercial real estate and you from a different angle than me, but still lots of commonality. So congratulations on the success to date. I’m just curious, given sort of where you were in the trajectory you were heading and then sort of, you know, identifying this opportunity, just because an opportunity is presented to you doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be successful. But why do you think, you know, you are uniquely suited? Why do you think you were able to take advantage, be at the right time, be at the right place and help build this company?

RS: So uniquely suited, I guess, it’s difficult to say. I mean, life is one of those things where, yeah, your skills and your experiences sometimes just align from a timing standpoint with the right opportunity. And I think more importantly, an opportunity can, you can skin that in multiple ways, whether it’s the actual business, the person that you meet or, you know, economic factors that may be driving and changing an industry. Looking at this, you know, I was first introduced to coworking maybe a few years before that with my first startup. Actually, I’ll shout these guys out. They were one of the very early companies in Toronto project spaces. And I mean, I fell in love with that business model then and really thought it was a super interesting idea. And, you know, you start to hear rumblings of companies like WeWork opening up in the States and we just making adaptations and pivots and changes to their business model to focus a little bit more on the hospitality side of things rather than, you know, strictly real estate capitalization. And what would be your traditional executive offices? So, I mean, coming into something like this, I would say one of the great advantages was being somewhat naive, which, you know, typically wouldn’t be a strength for most. But when you’re entering a new industry where there is absolutely playbook and the rules are being written and changed every day as you continue to grow and expand and figure out what that product market fit looks like, which varies by market, there are most certainly advantages there. What was great between Adrian and I as well, very different backgrounds. So he just finished his MBA. Fantastic when it came to the financial modeling, when it came to figuring out what their approach to, you know, our productization of office space looked like. And I complimented that with, you know, marketing skills, figuring out, OK, how do we actually get butts in seats, essentially. So, you know, talking through things, working together late nights and finding somebody that you really trust is extremely important.

DA: Well, I can definitely, you know, attest to the reality that the best partnerships are those where you each bring something unique to the table. Where you both think you actually can do what the other does, you’re more likely to fail. But I think when you bring some unique characteristics and abilities and experiences and you sort of know the lane that you swim in, but you’re able to support each other and collaborate with each other, I think that creates the best environment for success.

RS: Couldn’t agree more.

DA: Yeah. So, you know, let’s just sort of level set where we’re at. We launched this podcast in July 2020, just as the pandemic was taking root. And very early on in the media in particular, we started to see, you know, really polarizing commentary beginning to emerge, you know, on both sides of the discussion, the conversation. You know, those that think, you know, that we’ll never return to work, those that think we have to return to work. And I really just wanted to speak to people in all facets of the commercial real estate industry, you know, operators, owners, brokers, you know, occupiers, the prop tech companies that were emerging to serve the industry and really understand what was going on in real time, you know, and sort of ignore all the hype. And now, of course, with the ongoing conversation around the future of work and how and where people work, you know, this conversation is just so important. And I think it’s going to be with us for quite some time. So love to get, you know, through your lens of the industry, which is certainly connected to commercial real estate, but in an area of the business that is just so topical right now. I’m looking forward to your perspective on sort of where things are going. So I’m just curious if you can share with our listeners just to, again, sort of set the stage. You know, how are you continuing to evolve or innovate your particular product offering to meet the needs of the customer today, which is probably different than, you know, a year or two ago and maybe even different than pre-pandemic or not? I’m interested in your thoughts. But what’s influencing the direction that you’re taking for your business right now?

RS: Dave, you hit on a number of interesting points there, many of which I’ll piggyback on here. And it was very like the entire landscape has changed. There’s been a major paradigm shift. You know, we’ll call it pre-pandemic. There were a number of different agencies coming up with what seemed like outlandish numbers talking about, you know, upwards of 30 percent of commercial real estate being flex office space or co-working. You know, those numbers may still be realistic. But again, to take your words, I put a different lens on it. So even now, if you were to look at what’s happening in the commercial real estate environment, you know, vacancy rates, whether or not they’re continuing to rise, it really depends on the region in the area. But they are high, significantly higher than they were. And as a byproduct of that, you’ve got landlords that by nature are becoming a lot more flexible. Whether or not you would classify that as flex office space or a subsect of, I wouldn’t necessarily be the one to say. But more importantly than anything else, what we’ve realized, and I feel like every not every company, but so many are in this current state and it’s an absolute state of flux. They’re not 100 percent certain what they want. And there’s been a lot of power that’s been given to the employee in terms of dictating the way that they work, what that work style is, what in-office culture or rather in-office time should or shouldn’t be allowed. And companies are continuing to try and navigate what that mix or what that true hybrid model really looks like. I’ve seen positive outcomes, negative outcomes and had conversations that cover the entire array of, yes, we need to get back into the office full time because it’s important from brainstorming and ideation standpoint. As a young company trying to figure out what our product looks like, getting to know our customers, even just being together in the same physical environment to spitball and whatnot on a regular basis. All the way through to companies that have gone remote first and they see absolute success. And their preference is just to get together, do quote unquote co-working days, maybe on a biweekly or monthly basis with some fractional use in between for those that are more diehard office users. So when I think about what we used to do and I’ll take from my previous comment from the last question, the idea of productizing office space, I feel like what we have to do now is take a completely different approach where it’s a little bit more consultative in the way that we talk about the options that we have and build out what is truly kind of a fractional plan for those companies. So a good use case would be, and it’s a new market segment for many co-working operators, where you’d be looking at a company that maybe has 50, 60, 70, even upwards of 100 staff within the greater GTA. Now, historically, they would sign a lease for 20,000 square feet in the financial district, close to Union Station, an easy accessible hub. People would be coming in and out on a day to day basis. Now, what you’re seeing is, OK, well, our requirement is to cycle in different teams and business units on a schedule that we set forth on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, all premeditated based off of whatever management meetings, whatever the result of management meetings ends up being. So what we’ve had to do is layer in different technology or technological elements as part of the member stack, as I like to refer to it, that allows them to, again, use that space and extend what that smaller office footprint looks like. But then when the need presents itself to get everybody together for a town hall, a team event, or even if they just want a couple of teams in the space to work together on any given day, the beautiful thing about co-working is it provides that scalability for companies to do so. So we’re seeing a lot of that right now, but it’s got its pros and cons, because, again, there are times where companies have an exorbitant need that’s far beyond what we would be able to offer. So trying to figure out what that happy balance looks like and, you know, thinking about what the, and quite honestly, taking some of those predictive analytics that a few of the platforms that we use offer to determine, OK, what makes sense in terms of future spaces so that we can accommodate for this changing need in the workforce and what our members and the companies working with us really want.

DA: You’ve got to keep your head pretty close to the pulse of all of your clients and sort of the industry to sort of continuously evaluate, you know, where the market is going. I just shared an article on social that gave an example of three different individuals who, you know, chose three different situations where they chose to go back to work and where the working physical work environment was more appropriate for them. And sort of my conclusion that I like to suggest is, you know, it’s not a one size fits all. And I think that companies today are going to be looking for a lot of versatility in their real estate solutions. It’s become far more complex for them. It’s become a more complicated business for the owners and operators of real estate. It’s become a more complex business, probably for the flex and coworking space providers just because, you know, everything is changing so quickly. And, you know, I think that it requires us to have a greater sensitivity and a greater awareness and a greater connectivity to all the stakeholders. So, again, you know, you talked a little bit about being able to adapt quickly, but what are you seeing right now in terms of, you know, office footprint requirements, either within your spaces or within the companies that are using your spaces and perhaps their more permanent space? You know, are they truly downsizing and forming a partnership with you? Are they, you know, how are they collaborating with you? How does your space sort of work in tandem with maybe other physical space they might have under contract?

RS: So we’ve seen this from our very first location, actually, where larger enterprises, larger corporates will utilize coworking for project teams. There’s no doubt about that. And it’s, I think, quite well known that you’ve got a lot of big banks and large enterprises across Toronto that are shedding a percentage of their office footprint. Now, we’ve seen some that have just left Lisa’s role, larger businesses, and have come to us, again, with a requirement not too dissimilar from what I mentioned, where perhaps they’ve got 100 staff in the GTA. They maybe want 20 seats within a dedicated office. And then they’re looking at, you know, access to larger event spaces, meeting rooms, so on and so forth. An interesting thing that we have seen, actually, over the last little while is some of those larger companies, it’s been a very successful pilot and a very successful experiment for them. Where now they’ve, I wouldn’t say mandated, but they’ve come to an agreement across the board where staff want to come in on a regular basis. And regular is not necessarily five days a week. But if you’ve got staff coming in three to four days a week, you know, you have to reevaluate what makes sense for the company. And many of those companies actually are starting to explore traditional leases again. So, like, what initially was those companies letting those roll, now they’re going back to those because they’re realizing, yes, we want to get back into the office. And a lot of this makes sense. I mean, outside of that, you know, tech companies, again, many have taken that remote first mentality. But I think they’re realizing that there’s undeniable value to that face-to-face interaction and working together with the physical environment. And furthermore, as human beings, we inherently crave social interaction. So, you know, again, it’s one of those things where I feel like companies are trying to figure out what that balance is. And what we’ve had to do is introduce a lot of that fractional use, whether it’s day passes, day bookings, day offices, utilization of event spaces and meeting rooms. And then hybrids in between where perhaps you’ve got a few floating memberships where you can get staff that can utilize the space on a 24-7 basis. And then the rest can come and go as they please via those different vehicles.

DA: Right. Before we go on, I just have to give you a quick opportunity to give a little bit of plug for the business and maybe just tell us specifically, is there anything that makes your offering unique, particularly in the Toronto GTA market? How do you differentiate? How do you compete against some of the other solutions that might be available? Anything you can share with our listeners?

RS: To keep it super simple, Workhaus offers the best value in the best locations. So we don’t have these grossly inflated expenditures on wild capex in any projects that we’re going into where, you know, you’ve got bells and whistles where you may not need bells and whistles. Again, from a design standpoint, things are beautifully done in our locations. We’re in some of the most prime buildings in downtown Toronto. From a pricing standpoint, I would say we kind of land in the mid-market there. And outside of the cost and value, I think more importantly, it’s really the people and the programming that make space attractive to different types of companies. So, you know, the companies that we attract, the staff that we hire, the hospitable approach that we take to co-working and the in-office experience, I think far exceeds that of a lot of our competitors. And I’ve got 1,500 to 2,000 members across Canada that can most certainly attest to that.

DA: Right. Amazing. Thanks. Thanks for sharing that. Here’s an opportunity for you to, you know, think a little bit outside the box, maybe dream a little. But if budget and resources were not an issue, if I was to give you a blank check, what three new initiatives would you undertake to position your business for success over the next three to five years?

RS: I would say all would fall into one bucket, and that would be cross-Canada expansion. The Canadian market is still so severely underserved when you look at major metropolitan areas across the globe. I’m not sure how recent these stats are, but, you know, from a co-working standpoint, I believe co-working and flex space makes up between 1 and 1.5, roughly 1.5% of the market in Toronto. Exactly. You look at New York, it’s 4 to 5%, and you look at London, England, it’s upwards of 9%. So I think about not just Toronto, but Vancouver, Montreal, expanding our footprint in Calgary, looking at a number of different secondary markets, you know, creating that full connected Canadian co-working ecosystem under the Workhaus brand, that is where every dollar and cent would go.

DA: Okay. Well, you’ve got definitely a clear roadmap. I think we can both agree that, you know, owners and operators of real estate, they were once just in the space business, right? You know, build it and they will come. And they think they now know and understand that they really need to create destinations of choice, as we like to say, that they’ve got to, you know, bring people back. And it’s not just because they’re mandated back, but they have to offer a certain experience. Now, co-working spaces, and you guys have always understood that experience is a huge driver of engagement and picking up on the hospitality industry that, you know, they know it best and that, you know, traditional office buildings need to become more hospitable. And we’re seeing that every day now. So I’m just curious as customer experience probably always was, but will now continue to be a huge driver of utilization and engagement across all asset classes. You know, how are you seeing that phenomenon, you know, impact your business or maybe evolve in your business from where it once was?

RS: You make a very good point there. And every landlord conversation that we’ve had, they’re all chasing a greater experience. And if you were to think about a lot of the vacant spaces that many of them have, so there’ll be, I think I was, I viewed one of these the other day, I won’t name the landlord of the building, but a tenant amenity floor, that’s becoming extremely hot. Retailers that they’re bringing in, the restaurants and bars that they’re bringing in. You know, you walk through downtown Toronto on a Monday or Friday, and you question whether or not we’re still amidst the pandemic. But Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, it’s as busy as it has ever been. And the onslaught of, again, restaurants and retailers that are coming into downtown, it really shows that landlords have got a keen eye for bringing in what I refer to as the cool factor. So, you know, really attractive F&B, really attractive retailers that are going to create that stickiness factor and give people a reason to come in. You also see them layering in different levels of technology. And you’d be probably the authority to speak on that. But it’s something that, you know, initially I think was viewed as a flight to quality, where a lot of tenants were looking at higher-end buildings, getting out of B-class and C-class assets. And I still think there’s a sprinkling of that for sure. But you’ve got those in-between buildings, many of which are doing a great job of creating a better experience. So it’s a bit of a mixed bag there. Now, even if you were to look at some of the new market entrants in Toronto, a few large European co-working operators have been stepping around for a while. You’ve got a few from the US that have come in Toronto and are looking at rapid expansion. So they’re seeing an opportunity there. And even from an offering standpoint, both programming and in particular location amenities, we’re seeing everybody up their game on that front. So laying boards with F&B retailers, even gyms as a free amenity for tenants, coupled with bringing in the right co-working operator that can elevate the in-office experience, add ancillary space or overflow space for any of their clients that may require something a little bit more flexible. There are huge advantages to having all those amenities. And even when we’re going through our sales process, walking through what a lot of those native building amenities are, is a big selling feature. So yeah, all in all, I would say everybody’s elevating right now.

DA: I’ve asked a lot of other guests on our program, particularly those leading large commercial real estate companies, from their perspective, are they now seeing prospects, potential tenants, asking questions more specifically about those additional service offerings and programming and amenities? And they are. It is now becoming a significant component of the decision-making process. So I think you’re right. You also spoke about the different classes of buildings. And sure, there’s been the flight to quality to the class A building, but I also think that the technology can be the great equalizer. Technology can enable a B or a C class building that is still committed to delivering great experience to compete with a class A building. And generally, they have certain advantages. They can be more nimble, they can be more intimate, more bespoke. So I don’t personally rule out B and C. I think there are definitely some challenges ahead for that particular market segment. But I also think there’s a lot of opportunity if there’s a commitment to not just providing space, but to providing something more. I think there’s an awful lot of ways in which they can compete still.

RS: I would agree with you. And there are a lot of different ways that they can get creative. And I think we’ll start to see more and more of that because of the environment that we’ve been put in. Things have been stretched on for a little while with higher vacancy rates in the downtown core in particular with those assets. So you know what? I always look at it this way. Whenever we’ve got issues with the space, it’s time to start throwing a few things against the wall to see what sticks. And I would have to assume that landlords are going to follow suit on that front.

DA: Right. Agreed. Let’s take a short commercial break and we will be right back.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

DA: And now I’d like to welcome back to the show Ryan Speers, partner and COO at Workhaus. You know, we’ve touched on technology a little bit, but let’s just circle back. Commercial real estate is continuing to be impacted by the introduction of new technologies. They’re playing a significant role in shaping how not only building operators are managing their business in terms of efficiency, but they’re really looking at it from the perspective of engagement and experience. So we’d love to get your perspective on how technology within your co-working spaces are impacting your business and sort of that last mile, the relationship between you and your customer. What’s working, what’s not working, what would you love to see going forward?

RS: Yeah, great question. For us, you know, it’s always been a brick-and-mortar business, obviously. We’re technology enabled, we’re not a technology company, despite what companies like WeWork tried to sell us.

DA: It was never a technology startup.

RS: No, it was not.

DA: But they convinced a lot of people that they were.

RS: Yes, exactly. So, for us, when I talk about us being a technology enabled company, I think to your point, there’s a lot that that alleviates and it creates a lot more, creates a greater opportunity for engagement and connectivity within what is truly an ecosystem. So when I think about the early introduction of technology, for our use case at least, it was quite simple. Meeting room bookings and onboarding for a basic cataloging system to understand who is a member and who had access to the space. You know, that has evolved into something so much more for us. I made a point a little while back in our conversation about teams cycling in and out of spaces. Well, we’ve got apps now where you literally have an interactive map with bookable assets within where they can schedule as far as they’d like into the future. And that’s totally private to their company. You can track utilization on meeting rooms. We can track utilization within those specific spaces. We get a better gauge of who’s coming in and out of the office on a daily basis. But I think most importantly, what a lot of those tools have enabled us to do is communicate. So communicating on two different fronts. So one from a social programming standpoint, ensuring that, you know, we are letting people know and understand what’s happening in the space on a day-to-day basis so that we can create those connection points. Or as myself amongst many others like to say, serendipitous collisions. Those breakfasts in the kitchens, those networking events after hours, those marquee partners that are coming in and hosting a panel or an event of sorts that is a little bit more exclusive. Again, just driving that home, not necessarily via traditional email marketing, but having a more dynamic interactive channel in which you can do so. That’s been extremely important to us. Now, when I go back to what was some of the traditional co-working technology, tracking, utilization, which desks, that’s evolved to a point where we actually have predictive analytics on what our exposures look like. When we need to, when we’re going to need to fill X number of desks, whether or not we’re going to see a drop in new lead opportunities and sales based off of the time of the year or any other environmental factors that we end up building into these systems. From a technology standpoint, it’s made our job a lot more efficient, a lot more communicative. I think overall, it has assisted us in delivering a better experience for those working out of the spaces.

DA: Right. Super important. Without question, everything you just said totally makes sense in terms of you being able to operate your business efficiently and also deliver great experience. I think it’s going to continue to evolve. Certainly, we’re starting to see getting inquiries from other co-working companies that have used more utility type technology, but are now looking, what’s next? What’s the future look like? To continue to expand on the notion of delivering that great experience. It’s an exciting time. Our closing speed round, Ryan, is an opportunity to get to know you a little bit better, a little bit more on a personal level. I’m going to throw a few questions at you. Looking back, what is the one piece of advice that you wish someone had given you when you first started out in your career? That’s a tough one.

RS: Quite honestly, I would say listen more and act slower.

DA: Okay. Good advice for sure. Is there a favorite book or podcast that has positively impacted your approach to work or life?

RS: I’m a huge fan of the All In podcast. That one is fantastic. I don’t know if it’s necessarily impacted my work, but it’s most certainly interesting and keeps me up to speed on a lot of what’s happening in the tech world and beyond. In terms of books, I honestly would have to say Shoe Dog, the Nike story, Phil Knight’s story. That one hit home. That one was fantastic. Not necessarily the one that I learned the most from, but it hit an emotional chord. 

DA: Right. Very cool. Name one way in which technology has improved how you personally live or work.

RS: The mobile phone allows me to do everything I need wherever I am. It never turns off. Even when I’m in Mexico on vacation, I still feel connected and my team is still connected to me, which I think is important to them. I don’t know what advancements we’re going to be looking at on that front, but mobile technology and mobile internet is definitely the winner.

DA: Yeah, I think I agree with you. It’s often overlooked. People often look for a deeper, more complicated answer, but if you think about the impact that your smartphone has had on your life, it truly is remarkable. I agree with you. 

RS: Oh yeah

DA: Maybe this is a bit of an obvious question, but what factors do you consider when deciding where to work on any given day?

RS: A lot of that’s based off of what my email inbox looks like first thing in the morning. There are fires that need to be put out at one location. That’s typically where I’m headed, but I’m a diehard in-office personality. I thrive off of the social energy within our co-working environments in particular. I need to be around people, so I’m either in my office down at Bay and Wellington, or I’m at one of our locations working with different team members.

DA: Makes sense. As commercial real estate and also your particular business continues to evolve, what skills do you think are going to become more sought after? We have the traditional property management type functions, functionality, but I think that that’s evolving, and I think there are going to be new skills required to deliver on this new promise, particularly in and around experience. As you think about your business or commercial real estate in general, any thoughts on what the industry is going to need going forward in terms of HR?

RS: From an HR standpoint, you’re talking about?

DA: Well, in terms of the types of people and the skills they might have. Do you think it’s going to change? 

RS: I think the biggest one is going to be that CXO role, Chief Experience Officer, and that piggybacks on the conversation we had about, you know, not just building amenities, but coworking space amenities, looking at, because even as a coworking space, and I think about what you’re doing and what you’re working on, and the idea of being tied into a greater ecosystem where everything is connected, that’s going to give people so much more of a reason to come into the office on a day-to-day basis, and it’s just going to create ease of use. I don’t think that exists with many large commercial firms right now, but I think it’s going to be an absolute on the go forward, and whether or not it’s creating their own experiences, but at least coordinating and organizing with those kick-ass third-party solutions providers and ensuring that what they have delivers on what the need is for tenants, members as we refer to them, what have you.

DA: Yep, that’s a great point. A building doesn’t have to do it on their own. There’s so much that, you know, being a part of neighborhoods and cities, there are so many other opportunities to tap into. So, Ryan, if you were not doing what you’re doing right now in this moment in time, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

RS: Well, Dave, the Ryan Speers athletic days are long behind him, so I’ve always had an affinity for furniture design, so you know what, I think I’d get into that in some capacity.

DA: Okay. Well, could be a future chapter in your career trajectory. We’ll watch for that. Ryan, thank you so much for joining me today. Thanks for being a part of the program and contributing to this conversation around the future of work. I think what you’re doing is an essential part of that conversation, and, you know, I look forward to watching you bring home your vision for the future in terms of expansion across Canada and watching that unfold. So, let’s continue to stay connected and support each other in any way that we can. Thank you.

RS: Wonderful. Thank you as well, Dave. Appreciate it, and yeah, if you ever want to have me on again, don’t hesitate to ask.

DA: All right. We’ll definitely continue the conversation. Thanks so much. Excellent. Take care. Bye. 

DA: I want to thank Ryan Speers 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 tenant 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 david@hiloapp.com and until our next episode, I wish you all continued success in building community where you work and live. Thank you.

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.

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.