EPISODE 1 | 27 MINUTES | 10.21.2020

Welcome to Workplace 2.0

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Our CEO Pranav Tyagi and CMO Bart Waldeck kicks off our new Workplace 2.0 podcast series discussing the current state of office re-openings and restrictions, as well as how the pandemic continues to impact how and where we work, and what your organization needs to do to adapt quickly.

Introduction

Hey everybody, welcome to Workplace 2.0 our podcast series about today’s rapidly changing workplace. I’m Bart Waldeck and I’ll be your host for this journey. You’re probably wondering why we’re even launching this podcast series in the first place, but I bet none of you would argue with the fact that we’re at an inflection point with respect to the workplace and its future, and that the pandemic we’re all dealing with today has fundamentally altered how and where we work. So our goal with Workplace 2.0 is to distill the mountain of information and data that’s out there today into actionable insight that you can actually use to plan for the safe return to the office, ultimately navigate and learn during the initial re-entry period. And then, of course, re-imagine your own future office. Clearly, we can’t do this alone. So I’ll be sitting down with industry experts and other thought leaders to bring you as much information as possible. As a company here at Tango, we’re going through the same process you are, so we might as well share our own ups and downs as we go through this, so you realize you are not in this alone. It should be an interesting ride, buckle up.

Bart Waldeck

Hi everyone, and welcome to Episode 1 of Workplace 2.0. I’m very excited to kick off this initiative here at Tango, where we’re gonna focus in on providing help and guidance to companies who are faced with a daunting reality of planning for the return to the office, actually making that happen, and then adapt workplaces to the changing reality of how and where people are working. We’re gonna expand a little bit more on our thought process behind Workplace 2.0 in today’s episodes, so I’ll save some of that for later. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Bart Waldeck, I am the Head of Marketing and Product Strategy here at Tango, and I’ll be your host for Workplace 2.0. Joining me today, obviously, and in order to keep my job security good, I’ve invited Pranav Tyagi, our president and CEO here at Tango to join. All kidding aside, Pranav is one of the driving forces behind this concept of Workplace 2.0 an initiative that we’ll be going through as a company and overall as an industry. So welcome Pranav to Episode 1 of Workplace 2.0.

Pranav Tyagi

Thank you Bart, thrilled to be here and your job is secure for the time being, I’m glad to be a part of the kick-off of Workplace 2.0. This is the most interesting and challenging time in our industry’s history, and people are looking for guidance. So I believe this is the right time to do something like this.

Bart

Yeah, absolutely. And by the way, I love your background with the black, it kinda goes with the shirt, looks very Steve Jobs-esque.

Pranav

Black on black.

Bart

Black on black, there you go. Alright, so let’s go ahead and jump into the first segment of the show.

Okay, so let’s jump into Workplace 2.0 and set the stage for the reality of where we are today as a result of the pandemic and the impacts of that, as far as getting back into the office. We’ve got a couple of visual aids here that those of you on the videocast can see, in the podcast we’ll do our best to describe these as much as we can. Obviously, the pandemic is very dynamic, it’s changing by the day, by the week, and by different geographies, so here we’re looking at a couple of graphs over a two-week period, this was based on John Hopkins’ data and also was visualized by McKinsey. You see on the left side, we have June 22nd, and the various levels of the presence of COVID cases and the increase of the presence of COVID cases by a state-by-state level. On the right-hand side, we see that same view two weeks later, obviously a different color scheme here, on the left-hand side, we have a number of states that are in the kind of middle blue range, which indicates the 0.1% to 0.2% prevalence of the COVID cases, and then we fast forward to July 4th. And the number of those states, roughly about 12 of them have increased into the highest category, the deepest blue you see here, which is 0.3% or higher.

So those are states such as Nevada, California, New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and many others. So a definitely dynamic view of how things are changing on a week-by-week basis. If we move on to our next graphic, we’re looking at another two maps, this is looking at where we are today relating to restrictions at a state level, and then on the right-hand side, the status of reopening. This is a little bit more current. The left-hand map about restrictions is from The Washington Post, and you see the majority of states out there are in the full reopening process itself, but a number of states like Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Arkansas and Alabama, on the right-hand side are pausing their actual reopening.

So they’re kinda taking this pause with what they’re doing, and then we have a whole another layer of states that are actually going backward, they’re reversing some of their opening activities and processes. That’s states like California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Michigan. So a big swathe of the country on the southern side and a little bit in Michigan up in the North are happened to take a step back. So we happened to look at this map a few weeks ago for a summit that we did, and it looks even dramatically different than it did then it does I should say today, three or four weeks ago, so very dynamic situation. Pranav, maybe you could take us through where we are as it relates to getting back in the office from a pandemic perspective.

Pranav

Yeah, absolutely, thank you, Bart. So this next slide that we’re looking at is from a company called Perkins and Will, and it illustrates a little different sort of view of the world, let’s talk about how this pandemic is impacting… It has continued on and what the impact is on the return to the office and what things will look like initially and as we move forward. During this pandemic phase, most office workers immediately shifted to working from home. And as we know initially, many people enjoyed the freedom. I personally loved it. The fact that I got to spend three whole months with my kids. I don’t think I’ve ever spent three months, 90 days in a row, breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my kids ever in my life and their life. So I think a lot of people like me, enjoyed working from home and had little to no impact on productivity. But as this pandemic has dragged on, I think that sentiment is changing for a lot of people.

We’re seeing some interesting survey data coming up that I think is gonna have a material impact on how companies plan and execute the return to the office. So that’s that transition phase that we’re gonna look at. If we move to this next slide here, Bart. I think this is a US consumer survey that was done in April and again in May and it shows a pretty dramatic shift in sentiments around working from home, as well as the actual working from home, both pre-COVID and then subsequent to that. And the dramatic uptick that was seen in both mid-April as well as in mid-May, you can see on the right-hand side of this graph, by mid-May, the major urban centers were almost completely working from home which was substantially different from how it was in April as we know with this pandemic.

And if you take this further, on this next slide, the sentiment about working from home has evolved over time. If you look at this graph on your screens, this is a research survey done by the Gallup organization. And you look at point number three on this graph, where people are feeling best about working from home and then quotation here is, “Remote work is working perfectly for us.” I’m one of those people who has maintained that sentiment. But as time has gone on, I think for some people the opinion is shifting to point number four on the graph where “Remote work works or can work but we are seeing some challenges.” And I think over time, number five on this graph shows the fork in the road, where challenges around working from home will either get fully addressed or they won’t and I think depending upon the direction companies head in, you’re gonna have dramatically different outcomes of this working from home scenario. And supporting this data, this next slide is a recent study done by a company called Gensler, where they had a US work from home survey and there are some very surprising statistics on the slide that you can see. It shows the number of times people would like to work from home going forward. Only 12% of the people actually want to work from home full time. A vast majority, 70% want to work in an office for the majority of their week.

It is interesting considering people like me with sentiments of loving working from home, 70% of people want to actually be working from an office for the majority of their time and a full 44%, almost half, do not want to work from home at all. So that’s a very interesting statistic as we look at how people’s mindsets are changing about working from home.

Bart

Yeah, that is quite surprising. And I know I’m probably a little bit more towards five and you are at four where you live… And I do like it, but it’s getting a little bit harder and harder to do things. And like you, I’m used to being on planes. So it’s kind of weird not being on it but it’s also great to be able to see my kids. I totally agree. I think as we really focus on the return to the office, it’s really becoming clear that a lot of the strategies and office strategies pre-COVID, no longer are conducive to the reality we’re living with right now. The conventional wisdom pre-COVID was, offices were critical to productivity, the culture and winning “The war for talent.” And while that’s still the case, it’s obviously changed quite a bit.

Companies really focused on pre-COVID really competing for that space, densifying everybody, less and less space, more and more people and more open floor spaces and things such as that. And that just really isn’t conducive as we look towards the ease of the spread of COVID in the office. So you see here on the screen, for those of you on the videocast, we’ve got a number of pre-COVID office strategies and post-COVID. So we’re moving from the reality of an open floor plan to de-densifying. We’re going from shared spaces to individual dedicated spaces, going from communal spaces to the repurposing of flex spaces. So there’s just a big shift in how we’re gonna have to do this. So that’s gonna be a lot of what we’re gonna talk about as we move through this Workplace 2.0 journey.

Okay, those were attention-getting stats, to say the least. A lot going on, a lot of change going on. And I found when I’ve gone through a lot of material, I don’t know if you noticed this too Pranav, but there’s a lot of contradictory information, different surveys that seem to be not aligned to each other. And I know for us as we’re planning this ourselves in the return to work, the path forward isn’t totally clear and that came out also in the two-day summit we had a few weeks ago called Moving Forward: Workplace 2.0, where we brought together thought leaders from our space, those from Accenture, PWC, Deloitte, we had Cushman and Wakefield there, Arup and Newmark Knight Frank. And that was really the beginning of this journey for us here at Tango and was the catalyst for us getting the concept of Workplace 2.0 going and get this initiative launched. Pranav you were obviously a key member of that summit, you gave the keynote on day one, you were involved in a bunch of the panel discussions. What do you think you learned the most from that summit?

Pranav

So thanks, Bart and I’ll tell you one thing I learned a lot at that summit. I was very surprised to learn, according to some of those surveys we looked at as part of that summit that people enjoy. So while people enjoy some of the freedoms of working from home, upwards of 70% of people still want to spend the majority of their workweek in their offices. Also, job number one for companies is to make employees feel safe in the workplace. That’s something that you would not have thought about, naturally, you want the employees to be happy in the workspace, but now in today’s environment, job number one is for employees to feel safe before they actually feel happy. I encourage anyone who has not seen the summit content to actually go to our website and check it out. Also, as you mentioned, obviously the summit content was great, but it was only a point in time, companies need help throughout the journey from planning for their return to the office to the initial phase of return, and what can we learn from it to the re-imagination of how and where work is conducted in the future.

And it does not stop there, the challenges and the required changes I think are gonna ripple down the entire real estate and facilities life cycle. It will result in new portfolio plans, real estate transactions, constructions, moves adds and changes, changes to occupancy costs, changes to policies and procedures around facilities, as well as the need to manage much more dynamic and diverse corporate spaces and assets. That’s part of the reasons why we decided to launch this Workplace 2.0 to help companies and ourselves, to be honest with you, navigate the new world of corporate real estate and facilities. This Workplace 2.0 initiative is a series of content that will cover all three phases of return to the office, as well as how real estate and facilities will be managed on a go-forward basis in this new normal.

Bart

Yeah, that’s exactly right. And clearly, we can’t do this alone, we wanna have experts and other leaders in our space, like we did for our summit, continue to participate with us as we go through this adventure together, and look at all the different facets of the location life cycle. And this needs to be real life and practical information and guidance. So, that’s gonna be our objective as we go through Workplace 2.0.

So, Pranav, you had mentioned that Workplace 2.0 is also for us here at Tango, and we have some selfish motivation in launching this concept. Can you fill in everyone on Tango and what we’re looking for out of Workplace 2.0?

Pranav

Yeah, absolutely, Bart. For those of you who are not familiar with Tango, we are, what I would call, a next-generation Integrated Workplace Management software company. That’s a mouthful, but I’ll try and explain that. Today, the Tango platform is used in over 130 countries by over 120 organizations to manage over 400,000 locations in about 12 billion in annual CapEx, and about 18 billion in rent and occupancy costs are administered and managed in the Tango platform. So, what exactly is it that we do? Over the past 12 1/2 years or so, we have evolved from our origins as a real estate strategy and technology consulting business to become what we are now today, which is a real estate and facilities platform, used by companies across the spectrum of financial services, technology, telecommunications, healthcare and retail and other segments of industries.

Primarily to manage the location life cycle, everything from portfolio strategy and transaction management, to design and construction, release administration and accounting, facilities management and space planning. And to answer your other question. Yes, obviously, we at Tango have a vested interest in this initiative, we are traveling the same road as almost every other company out there. We need to plan our return to the office, execute on it and then figure out how and where our employees will work going forward, just like our listeners today. We all need to re-examine our people, process and technology in order to make this happen. We at Tango, closed our offices in early March, a little ahead of everybody else in, for example, the state of Texas. And then have transitioned to basically a 100% remote workforce. The good news for us was that as a software company, we often already worked in a distributed virtual environment. So, the transition was not really that difficult for us, and we’ve not seen any drop in productivity.

I don’t think that can be said for all companies. We’re already seeing a number of our own customers as well as prospective customers, and as we talk to them, that there’s an element of dysfunction in some of their operations. As of today, we are actually in the process of planning our return back to the office in a way that first and foremost, ensures the safety and well-being of our employees, which obviously is of paramount importance. To accomplish this goal, we will be following a phased return with a limited number of employees in the office at any given point in time, just to more effectively adhere to social distancing requirements and to reduce contact as much as possible. We’re also implementing technology in the form of sensors and other hardware that we believe is gonna help improve our access to data and information and to ensure adherence to our new workplace policies, and also to safeguard our employees. In fact, we’re gonna be feeding some of this data into our own software and use it… Our space planning module, and use it to manage the process. These are some of the first steps, I think we are planning on taking on, what we’re 100% certain, it’s gonna be a really long journey.

Bart

Yeah, that’s right. That’s the key, I think “journey” is the right word to describe it. And as we’re going along this journey, let’s document it, let’s figure out what did we learn? What did we struggle with? Where do we have some failures? Where do we have some successes? So that hopefully everybody who tunes in can benefit from what we’re going through. I think one of the most important things we’re really trying to do here is kinda get away from a lot of the industry speak and a lot of the high-level description of what needs to happen and get very practical and realistic, as we apply this guidance, the guidance, and the best practices and what’s working and not working is part of that process. So, there’s a lot of great info out there, but we need to distill it and make it actionable. So, we’re gonna focus less on the ivory tower and more on how can we really apply this and kinda humanize this journey as we go through it. So, again, what’s clear is we can’t do this alone. We’re coming in today through a videocast or a blog/podcast, but Workplace 2.0 is gonna come in a number of different formats, it’s gonna be blogs and articles and more video logs and podcast and webcasts, and various curated content that we find on the subject so that we can help everybody kind of move forward through this process.

Okay, a key concept to all of this is the location life cycle, as you called it. That may be an unfamiliar concept to some of our listeners, or at least they may not have heard it called that before, but they know what it is. Can you kinda expand on what the location life cycle is and why it’s important?

Pranav

Yeah, good point, Bart. Not everybody knows that term, and especially if you’re not from our industry. But those that are in the real estate business definitely understand the concept. The location life cycle, I guess the best way to describe it is a construct that looks at real estate and facilities and all of the activities that go into planning and managing them as a single end-to-end connected process. So if you think about it, at inception, a company’s physical footprint starts with the analysis of what real estate and facilities are needed to enable that business to operate and meet its strategic objectives, whether that’s offices, manufacturing facilities, logistical type facilities such as warehouses and distribution centers, retail stores, restaurant locations, etcetera. Once that plan or real estate strategy is set, companies then need to find the actual piece of real estate to fit their needs, they need to either buy or lease it and then eventually build it and start paying rent on it and incurring and paying occupancy costs. If they’re leasers they have to account for those leasers, and for all of these facilities, they have to maintain them and effectively plan that use of that space.

So to me, the term location life cycle is all of those things encompassed into one term. The portfolio planning and analysis, the real estate, the design and construction, lease administration and accounting facilities and maintenance and space management, all of those together constitute real estate life cycle. It also includes the people who do the work, the processes they follow, and obviously the technology that they need to use to get the job done. One thing to note here is that all of these things are interrelated and need to be viewed and managed as a singular thing versus in silos. As individual departments all executing their own processes and using their own technology, that becomes highly inefficient, often results in avoidable mistakes and challenges and is nowhere to manage a company’s top enterprise expense and key enablers of the business.

Bart

Yeah, absolutely, that’s a good way of explaining it actually. And when you explain it that way as kind of that end-to-end process for any particular building and as well as rolling up to the entire portfolio, the concept of location life cycle makes a lot of sense, and it paints a good picture of the scope of what we’re gonna be talking about here in Workplace 2.0. We’re gonna be digging into all those areas, because as you mentioned before, it’s a ripple effect. So as we plan to go back to the office, start going back and then re-imagine our workplace of the future, that’s gonna result in transactions and new-build projects and moves-add-changes and rent changes and all that type of stuff, maintenance and so forth. So that’s really the scope of what we’re gonna talk about and dig into in Workplace 2.0.

Well, clearly, there’s a lot of ground to cover, and our listeners are probably wondering, where are we gonna start. What do you think Pranav? What’s the right launch point?

Pranav

Bart, to me, it makes the most sense to start at the very beginning of this process, which is the planning for the return to work. That’s where Tango is at the moment. I think as well as the majority of the companies out there, we’re all in the same boat, knee-deep in the planning process. For example, right now we’re trying to decipher all of the state and county regulations and guidance, which for us at Tango, because we’re based here in Dallas, is the State of Texas and Dallas County. We are also reviewing information from credible health organizations including the Dallas County HHS, Texas Department of Health Services, the CDC, OSHA, etcetera. All of this needs to inform the policies and procedures that we are defining which will be implemented in the return to the office. So this process is an interesting one because these guidelines and guidances change as more and more information is being learned about the pandemic and how people should be preventing and working going forward.

Bart

Yeah, I can definitely attest to the amount of information as part of Tango’s return to the office planning committee, I’m knee-deep going through a lot of these documents that you just referenced and it can be overwhelming, it can be difficult to understand and piece together into a plan that you can actually execute. So as you mentioned, Workplace 2.0, we’ll start off focusing on planning for the return to the office, as far as some of the specifics of the topics we’ll be covering here shortly. We’re gonna be looking at setting return to office policies and procedures, so how do we take that information from the government as well as health organizations and other sources and really architect the plan and the policies that we wanna follow when we get back to the office. We’re also gonna be really digging into the human side of things, so analyzing the roles we have within our organization, where those roles are… Work, whether that’s remote or hybrid or a lot of travel.

And then also looking deeply into every individual employee’s situation. So regardless of role, everybody’s got their own personal situation. Maybe you’re a little bit older and you have some underlying health conditions, or some other situation, where maybe you don’t have child care at home, that are all gonna impact how we work going forward. We’re gonna be looking at optimizing our occupancy plans, so giving social distancing requirements, how are we gonna occupy our office? Are we gonna be in shifts? Which seats can be used, which ones can’t? How do we handle areas of common gathering of people, entry, exit, things such as that? And we’ll also be looking at establishing communication plans, which is critically important in this time, is how do we communicate with employees consistently so they feel safe at the workplace. And then ultimately, we’re also looking at how do we track all this. There’s a lot of guidance about social distancing and things, but how can we leverage technology and other things to see how we’re doing against those objectives and making sure we have a safe environment.

So those are some of the ones we have in the near term, and this is gonna go on for quite a while with a lot of other content, but that is the first wave of things we’re looking at. And I don’t know about you Pranav, but I’m really excited that we’ve had an opportunity to finally kick this off and move into these other areas. So I really appreciate your taking the time to join us here today on the first episode of Workplace 2.0. So thanks for helping kick it off.

Pranav

Absolutely, cannot wait to see what we all learn through this process.

Bart

Yeah, I guess that’s the operative word,” learn”, right? So that’s what we’re gonna be doing here collectively. Thanks to everybody for listening. Look for our next episode soon, and as always, stay safe.