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The Power of Connections

By Rosario Gomez DEI posted Sep 14, 2021 02:28 AM

Driving Positive Change

The Power of Connections


Connections, and how to make them, was the theme that ran through CoreNet UK events over the last few months. And each session brought together a radically different perspective on the connections – both personal and professional – that impact the workplace.


The Connections between Landlord and Occupier

From a conventional perspective, the “Using Covid as a catalyst to bring landlords and occupiers closer together” session assessed how Covid has brought landlords and tenants together like never before. The pandemic has brought the two sides of real estate closer than ever before, to adopt a partnership approach to support one another through Covid.  


This session brought together representatives from landlords (Stuart Cranna/ Aviva Investors, Mark Tyson/ Legal and General Investment Management) occupiers (Keith Waterman/ PRA Health Sciences) and managing agents (Stephanie Moore/ JLL) facilitated by Cathy Hayward. https://unitedkingdom.corenetglobal.org/events/past-events


The session included some great shares from the participants, not least that stronger relationships between landlords and occupiers benefit all parties. By improving space and service, both groups will achieve their corporate goals, with landlords seeking certainty and long-term income, and clients hoping to re-integrate the workplace back into their business.


Key recommendations included “good communication” and “honest conversations” in the future between both parties. This includes more “openness” and a more integrated approach between landlords, occupiers and managing agents. And landlords should try to be more flexible and adaptable with lease lengths and conditions.


Work: Journey into the Unknown

But our assessment of connections wasn’t limited to the conventional relationships in commercial real estate. Our series of talks also looked at the work itself, how it is changing and how the workplace needs to change to support it.  This session – “Work: Journey into the Unknown” - with Steve Wright, head of CoreNet’s Workplace group, assessed a theme that has understandably preoccupied many of us over the past 18 months. It included plenty of interaction from the audience with break-out rooms, a lively chat and networking at the end.

Topics discussed by the panel made up of Tim Allen (Aberley), Salla Eckhardt, (Microsoft), Kirsty Angerer (AstraZeneca), Rachel Suff (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and Naomi de Barra (Integrate Psychology) included the risk of a two-tier workforce (those in the office and those at home); giving people control over their working preferences; building communication skills; and the different aspects of ergonomics: physical, cognitive and emotional.


How to Build Trust in a VUCA World

The other events in the quarter took a somewhat less conventional approach to real estate connections, taking the opportunity to look at how the CRE role can be elevated, from different perspectives. Session one in “How to Thrive not just Survive” was focused on Building a Base and Building Trust.


Lynda Ings and Raminta Kymantas, from Colliers ran a seminar on  “How do you build trust in a VUCA world (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity)?” Our audience response set out the issues that this VUCA world presents by submitting the words that sum up the last 18 months for them: “scary, challenging, unprecedented, and change” were the replies!  However, our speakers from Colliers made the accurate point that this turbulence the pandemic has caused is not new to us.  In recent years, we have seen the fallout from the Brexit vote, chaos in markets, and technology advances; all of which might be deemed as being “unprecedented”.


In a fascinating talk they went on to look at the “trust equation” from the book The Trusted Advisor.  This equation sees the sum of credibility, reliability and intimacy, divided by self-orientation to create trust. And never has the role of trust between employer and employee been as critical as it is now. Transparency of communication and trust is key particularly as the next VUCA moment we are all going to experience is most likely to be the Return to the Office.


The second element of this session that built on the Colliers’ segment came from professional sports coaches Dai Thomas and Chris Koffman, Team Exos, and David Thomas, a human performance specialist. Their approach to improving human performance and developing leadership is just as applicable to the corporate world – not least because they looked at the impact of serotonin and dopamine release, both of which impact wellbeing and productivity.  The session ended with a fascinating example of how breathing exercises and awareness of your breath can markedly impact stress levels. Something we can all relate to over the past 18 months!


Creating Human Connections


The second “How to Thrive” session continued the theme with a session from professional leadership coaches Amelia Saberwai and Gabriella Miller from Kinesthetica Impact Coaching. They explored imposter syndrome and the self-defeating habits we can fall into through negative thoughts.


There was a really engaged audience who explored how misinformed beliefs about oneself can really inhibit careers, by failing to speak up, and setting limits on what can be achieved. Their workshop brought awareness to what we think about every day, how those negative thought patterns can emerge and their impact.


Lastly, Rachel Edwards, Lendlease, and Rosie Haslem, Streetsense, focused on building community via placemaking.  A session creating places where people live, work and play; how places can foster a sense of belonging and where they can thrive. This session looked at the need to draw people back to the workplace, but to do so successfully will need us to reassess the why and where of the office.


The pandemic has opened up huge opportunities to rethink the way we live and work, and these changes will impact the way we connect and our sense of belonging to a community. Our sector will have to think beyond the office, to activating spaces more broadly by looking at the hospitality and retail mix.


For our colleagues to leave their homes and return to the office, we will have to provide an experience that goes above and beyond work alone. We have to give people opportunities to build connections and enjoy the experience of leaving the house for work. Another perspective on connectivity and the challenge the CRE sector faces – but an exciting prospect! 


Connection: Exchanging Ideas

The ability to connect comes in many forms.  But connectivity and the art of forming connections has never been given as much thought by many of us due to the physical separation induced by the pandemic. For workspace professionals there are challenges in connectivity – creating the environments that allow our colleagues to re-connect, and the importance this holds for businesses of all sizes. The CoreNet sessions from the spring to summer recognised the opportunity for us all to further the CRE role, and, hopefully, armed with the ideas and tips from our experts will give us all the chance to capitalise on this moment in time as the Return to the Office beckons.