By Meghan Hall
As companies within the commercial real estate industry look to stay afloat during the market correction caused by coronavirus, they have had to not only evaluate their workplace needs, but make tough decisions regarding employment. The CRE and AEC industries, like many others, have experienced rounds of furloughs and layoffs at a time when companies must also think critically about the future of office design. For Nellie Hayat and Parin Ahmadi, co-founders of Workplaced, a platform solely designed to connect CRE and workplace industry professionals, has become paramount.
Can you please tell The Registry a little bit about Workplaced as an organization? What originally prompted the formation of a company designed specifically to connect professionals in the commercial real estate industry?
COVID-19 has provoked a surplus of available candidates in the CRE and workplace industry. The forced experiment of remote work has put in motion rethinking the role of the office space, remote work and employee experience. It is more imperative now than ever for companies to re-think their workforce needs to keep their employees happy, productive and engaged. In an effort to facilitate the hiring of industry experts to lead this strategy, we built Workplaced.
Workplaced is a resource tool that is 100 percent dedicated to the CRE and workplace industry. Our mission is to create a community within the industry and get experts and industry leaders back to work quickly. Workplaced strives to streamline the job process for job seekers and recruiters, to foster an ongoing discussion on the evolution of the workspace and advocate for a future of curated experiences for employees. Our platform helps hiring entities see relevant, quality and vetted talents as well as support our talents’ job search avoiding endless/irrelevant searches on general job boards.
From your perspective, how have coronavirus layoffs particularly impacted the CRE community? Are you finding heads of workplace/real estate are being let go?
The forced experiment of remote work has impacted all professionals who touch the built environment. This includes all project partners such as GCs, subcontractors, architects, designers, furniture dealers, AV/IT/Security vendors, real estate brokers and any variable project management resources.
Internal Workplace Strategy, Facilities Management and Real Estate Portfolio Management teams were also impacted. Amongst our amazing talents are folks that were Head of Real Estate and Head of Workplace within their previous organizations.
In your opinion, why do you think companies are letting these professionals go, and how can that impact the industry in the future?
Companies had to reassess their business needs which resulted in lay-offs and furloughs. Facilities, real estate, workplace and human resources teams were all impacted along with all service providers.
There is a risk with the lack of internal WPS teams to advocate for the holistic vision of employee experience through places, people and technology. However, as difficult as it is to see our peers laid-off or furloughed, this unprecedented situation has created an opportunity to revise workplace roles and workplace experiences.
How does the platform work to connect employers and CRE professionals? From your perspective, how is Workplaced more efficient than traditional resumes or websites such as LinkedIn?
The Workplaced platform provides a streamlined job search/talent search process for both the talent pool and the hiring entities. Workplaced is addressing the need for a vertical job platform to quickly place talented folks that were furloughed or laid-off due to the pandemic. The existing platforms cannot properly scale or evolve with the shifts in the commercial real estate/ workplace industry which is the main focus of Workplaced. Additionally, new roles will evolve and the existing platforms do not capture jobs such as “Head of Remote Work”, “Head of Employee Engagement and Wellness” etc. Reshaping of the industry calls for CRE experts to serve as consultants and/or advisors to best address the new company workspace needs.
How do you envision roles such as Head of Real Estate and Head of Workplace Strategies evolving in a post-coronavirus environment? Why?
For the more immediate, short-term, mid-term and long-term company needs, we want to empower our leaders, head of Real Estate or Workplace, to expand beyond their scope. Through active listening, compassion, mindfulness and creativity, Real Estate and Workplace leaders will remain relevant to the remote and distributed workforce. We want to encourage leadership to hire a more diverse team to include employee engagement, community building, wellness, mindfulness, remote work, coworking, sustainability and technology, etc. We would love to see Head of Real Estate and Head of Workplace Strategies shift toward becoming Head of Employee Experience or Head of Workforce.
How do you think workplace and real estate decisions will change as a result of coronavirus?
As we have been observing, companies are minimizing their real estate footprint throughout their portfolios and exploring alternative options for their company culture, workforce experience and wellness. It is exciting to see that companies are proactively questioning and listening to their employees. As a result, they are gaining more understanding of the environment needed for employees to be their best selves and to do their best work. We believe that Workplace should remain a critical piece in shaping the new employee experience. Real estate and Workplace decisions will be made in partnership with other teams involved in employees’ well-being and engagement for immediate and long-term solutions.
Looking at Workplaced’s future as a company, what are you most excited about? Why?
We are definitely most excited about creating a resource tool specifically for our industry. This tool did not previously exist. Workplaced has created a path to grow a community within the industry and empower its members to broaden their network, knowledge base and passion.
Can you talk a little bit about Workplaced’s plans for growth? What steps are you taking in order to grow your ability to help those in the industry?
Our goal is to help our industry recover and help the amazing people in our industry who lost their jobs. We strive to continue increasing job postings, event offerings and educational resources for the benefit of our talent pool. We are partnering with various organizations and companies to better understand the gaps/needs so that we can best facilitate marrying up the talent pool and available roles.
Is there anything you would like to add that we did not ask or mention?
We are so grateful for the support of the Workplaced initiative from our incredible network. RED, CoreNet, IIDA, Ariel Arts, Open Sourced Workplace, Project #1000Hires and The Registry!