Fortune favours the Bold
In this exclusive Q&A, we get Caleb’s thoughts about the evolution of the work environment and what may be around the corner for office real estate.
Over the last few years, the world has experienced accelerated development in how space can be adapted to meet the requirements of organisations and their workforces. As the adoption of this
philosophy reaches the majority market, it’s interesting to listen to those who have long been advocates and innovators of this method.
Caleb Parker is the founder of Bold, the workplace community for entrepreneurs and creative people. Bold works with asset managers, landlords and enterprises to deliver flexible work environments, on-demand, in London and Manchester. Caleb also presents the long-running #WorkBold podcast, where he speaks with leaders in the office space industry about what we can expect to see next.
"Space-as-a-Service is like bringing that hospitality layer into the experience of using an office."Caleb Parker
Anyone who has listened to the #WorkBold podcast will be familiar with your term Space-as-a-Service. For those who aren’t, could you give us some insight?
The ‘as-a-service’ term started with software. When we hear it, we think of Spotify, Netflix or Uber – with on-demand access to exactly what we want.
I like to use a hotel analogy. When we stay in hotels, we receive a level of hospitality in proportion to the price we pay. And when we go to book a hotel, we usually know which brand offers the service and quality we desire.
The hotel room has all the comforts we need for a good night’s sleep, and we don’t have to sign up to stay longer than the time we need.
To me, Space-as-a-Service is like bringing that hospitality layer into the experience of using an office, providing transparent prices through consistent branded experiences. There should be flexibility to book the exact office experience we want, on demand, for the amount of time we need it.
You also speak about the five pillars that drive Space-as-a-Service. What are they?
They are the five areas of expertise that operators of Space-as-a-Service must deploy to deliver the right customer experience: Hospitality, Community, Technology, Space Design and Management.
You’ve interviewed many of the innovators in the commercial real estate and workplace sectors during a time of significant change. As we emerge from the grip of the pandemic, what do you think are the biggest challenges for workplace occupiers in 2022?
The office no longer has a monopoly on work. Many of us no longer have to be inside an office building five days each week to generate stellar results. That’s been proven over the last two years.
I believe most companies should go remote-first. We’ve seen a debate in the media play out, pitting working from home versus the office. But that’s often self-serving interest creating a false dichotomy. Why not have both, and in between?
The companies who get ahead will dive into their culture and truly understand how the office is a tool to help their team succeed. They’ll empower their teams to choose when to use the right tool on a given day.
And how about opportunities for the future?
To me, the future is about empowering people with the flexibility to choose how they work best and giving them the tools to do so.
The best offices going forward will cater to this reality. On the podcast, Esme Banks Marr, Strategy Director at BVN Architecture, referred to the Leesman data for employee satisfaction with a quote saying, “The average home supports the average employee better than the average office.” That’s a huge challenge for companies holding onto pre-pandemic ways of thinking. But it’s a big opportunity for companies leaning into the new ways of working as part of their recruitment strategy.
"Happier and more productive teams are the ones that have a voice."Caleb Parker
You’ve spoken to some great leaders over the series. What are the three most important leadership lessons our readers could learn from your guests, and why?
They don’t call their work from home team members remote workers because that makes it sound like there’s a centre of gravity, and those folks are on Mars somewhere.
Episode 1 of Season 6 with Stephen Shedletzky is dedicated to leadership and putting values at the centre of the universe.
Stephen says every leader exists to serve their people. And doing right by people and by our bottom line are not opposing forces. I also really appreciate Tracy Hawkins’ inclusive approach as VP of Real Estate & Workplace at Twitter.
She says company culture isn’t about brick and mortar offices but rather about shared values, clear goals and making people feel an equal part of the company.
The third lesson has been more of a recurring theme that I’ve taken away from my conversations: that happier and more productive teams are the ones that have a voice.
They feel listened to and taken care of and, in turn, give more back to the business. That to me is important, as companies learn over the next couple of years how their teams want to work going forward.
Thanks, Caleb. Let’s finish with some quickfire questions. 1) Who in the industry do you admire?
I greatly admire James Goldsmith from AXA IM for his vision at 22 Bishopsgate to create a vertical village. I align with his belief that value is created in commercial real estate when office customers are successful not just by achieving high rents contracted through long-lease terms.
I can’t NOT mention Dave Cairns here. He’s become the voice of the office customer globally, and nearly every day, he inspires a new idea or provokes a new way to think about the relationship between people and the workplace.
2) What are your podcast recommendations?
There are too many good ones to list, but I’ll nod to Bruce Daisley’s Eat Sleep Work Repeat podcast, which is definitely an industry go-to for me. And the entrepreneurship-focused podcast Masters of Scale by Reid Hoffman.
3) Finally, where is your perfect holiday destination?
Anywhere with views of mountains against the sea. It’s why I love the European Mediterranean coast. The Sarandë area in Albania was a great trip – and an easy ferry ride from Corfu.
Bold Bauhaus is an innovative work environment that has recently opened in the Spinningfields district of Manchester. Learn more about Caleb and his team’s work at www.workbold.co.uk and listen to the #WorkBold podcast, available now on all platforms.
Workplace [R]Evolution: Issue 4
Leaders are working harder than ever to deliver healthy, inclusive and empowering workspaces that deliver the very best work-life balance.