Frank Cottle [00:00:24] Dave, welcome to the Future Work podcast. Really happy to have you here today and appreciate you joining us all the way from Prince Edward Island in Canada.
Dave Cairns [00:00:35] Yeah, my pleasure to be here. I’m excited to have a chat about the future of stuff.
Frank Cottle [00:00:41] Well, the Future of Work affects us all, certainly. And you’ve had an interesting story yourself, kind of. You encapsulate a lot of the elements that we see going on all over. Can you give us a little bit of your background? From digital Nomad to CBRE office agent to digitally independent Allwork.Space living on Prince Edward Island? How did that transition occur, and how do you think it fits in with the way people are working today?
Dave Cairns [00:01:12] Yeah, it’s a deep question. Yeah. So I started out leaving college as a professional online poker player. I was fortunate enough to be successful enough at that while I was in college that it didn’t necessitate me getting a real or conventional job once I graduated. And interestingly, when I did graduate, I actually had more certainty about what I was doing at that time in my life than I’ve actually ever had since. And I certainly had a lot more certainty than my peers, who were very confused and trying to figure out what type of job they would take at an accounting firm or consultancy or big bank or whatever. So it was refreshing for me at the time to not have to worry about that, because when I look in the rear-view mirror, I think it really felt like life or death to me in terms of taking on a traditional job at that time. And so success at poker was almost like do it at all costs kind of thing. So I was just really fortunate that I was able to be successful at it. And so I then carried on after college in 2009 for almost four years, competing in professional poker at a high level. I was ranked as one of the top online tournament poker players in the world for a period of time. And I also played a lot of live stops, traveling to places like Europe and the World Series of Poker in Vegas. Yeah. And it was a fun lifestyle. I ended up quitting the game earlier than I had planned. In 2011, the Department of justice in the US indicted the two largest online poker websites for tax evasion, money laundering, and a whole whack of charges, and consequently made it illegal for the US. Player pool to play. So it materially changed the games for the worse. They became smaller and harder. And so I looked at that inflection point as maybe a moment to sort of say, okay, this might be my time to move on from the game. So I did. But at first, I really just took a step back. I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I had money, which was fortunate and unfortunate. Fortunate in that I didn’t have to worry, but unfortunate in that I didn’t really have, like, a fire under my ass, so to speak, to do something else. But eventually, I ended up just sort of deciding, okay, I need to take a little bit of a leap of faith here and do something in the professional or corporate arena. I had friends and family that were all in commercial real estate, and they kind of just encouraged me to give it a shot. Notably brokerage, fully commission-based brokerage, they sort of said, look, you’re used to losing money more days than you win money, so you probably do okay with commission-based work, and you’re good at good analytical skills and good with people, so why don’t you give it a shot? And so I did. And I spent then eight and a half years being in the office pretty much every day and selling the office in and out. And that was a great journey. But what I didn’t know while it was happening was that I sort of shut the door, locked the key on this digitally nomadic, sort of digital first kind of guy. I just didn’t really have much use for those skills in that previous phase of my life. But then the pandemic happened, and it was an interesting kind of profession to be in when a pandemic occurs, because all of a sudden, the hottest thing out there, which was taking up more office space, office markets in North America had some of the lowest levels of vacancy on record, notably in Canada and markets like Toronto. So all of a sudden, something that you just couldn’t find, that everybody wanted, which was office space, became the bottom of the list. And it really felt almost insensitive, from my point of view, to prospect clients, prospective clients, during such a difficult health and safety crisis. But on top of that, more selfishly, it felt like the definition of insanity, because I just felt like, who’s even going to field my call right now? So what I kind of did is I realized that I’d been in this spot before, that I knew how to collaborate and build relationships in an online capacity. First, in essence, I possessed being digitally native, and I just kind of synthesized all of that for myself in the beginning of the pandemic, and in realizing that what I decided to do was go on a journey of publicly journaling my thoughts on this whole matter. At first, I spent a lot of time talking about the supply demand inefficiencies in the commercial real estate industry that just really don’t meet the needs of modern companies or end users of space which would be employees. I felt that there was a big mismatch there in terms of flexibility of lease terms and also the quality of service and hospitality and technology that most offices don’t provide to end users of the space. So I spent a lot of time talking about that but more recently I’ve really been talking about this sort of movement towards location and time independence and almost like a renaissance moment for parents to kind of get some of their time back and spend more time with their families. I’m really more trying to lean into the movement now than I am focused on talking about the commercial real estate market or anything like that even though I still play in it.
Frank Cottle [00:06:35] It’s kind of interesting going back to where you started here a little bit. Being a professional gambler is no different than being a VC in many respects by pure coincidence, for a number of years when I was young, my dad was a professional gambler. He was a poker player.
Dave Cairns [00:06:54] Oh cool.
Frank Cottle [00:06:55] Everything was live then and so I ended up spending a lot of time not a lot of time, but a fair amount of time memorable trips back and forth between California and Newport where we lived, and Vegas where he would go and play every month for regular sessions. So, I get that, and it is kind of interesting when you think about it as a poker player. You got to play the hand you’re dealt, you got to deal with stuff and you better be decisive. You have to make decisions and those decisions have immediate consequences that you feel pain or gain right away, and you don’t know what else is going on the table aside from your instincts and your experience. So in many respects, it’s a great preparation for business overall, I think, and for understanding when times change or when something changes that you can’t keep playing the same game. You have to change your game. And I think that that’s probably an important lesson you maybe learned consciously or unconsciously. But that is a great preparation for a lot of people. In fact, I wish everybody that had kids that those kids got kicked out of college about their sophomore year and became professional gamblers. The whole world would be quite a different place as a result of that. So I get it and I think that there’s a great background there. It’s interesting that you chose commercial real estate to come to. I think it’s a comfort level, it’s a natural thing and there was a hot market going on. You could certainly do well in the market but when you have as much gray hair or as little hair as I have, you’ve seen half a dozen cycles in the real estate industry and you know, that just like poker. You have a hot streak and then a cold streak a lot of times. And the markets are like that in real estate. And the way when we look at the future of work, we see those cycles occurring and what comes out of them is really not just change, but knowledge of change. And so I think there’s a lot there that we can play on overall. Talk a little bit about the mismatch you saw in commercial real estate coming up, not just the market, but in the way that space was being used and what you saw from your clients or what CBRE saw overall and where you see it going. We’re talking about the future of work here, not yesterday.
Dave Cairns [00:09:45] But yeah, well, that was all really well said. So thanks for kind of bringing that home for me. Yeah. As far as the mismatch of supply and demand, it’s really interesting to reflect because there are statistics and data and things that I’ve learned since this pandemic started that didn’t even enter my mind as an office leasing broker prior to the pandemic. So by example, I had no knowledge of the fact that offices were actually already 50% empty prior to the pandemic, meaning most offices are massively underperforming. That was something that I just didn’t actually need to know, which is kind of crazy when you think about it, because as a real estate broker, you’re actually advising companies on how much space they need. And very frequently we would do it off the back of a napkin and use kind of rudimentary metrics of sort of roughly 120 to 150 person is what we would say an employer might need for an office. But in no way did we take note of how it was actually being utilized. So it’s very interesting just to sort of think of that that pre pandemic, most markets had very little vacancy, five or less percent vacancy, but that occupancy within those buildings was really not doing very well. So when we talk about returning to where we were from before the pandemic, we’re really actually referring to returning to something that was only 50% effective, give or take. I mean, we could definitely debate that from the vantage point that no office should really ever be 100% occupied because it would maybe necessitate not having enough seats for people. Although the counterpoint to that argument is that much like bustling restaurants or things of that nature, sometimes it’s actually not a bad thing for a customer to be turned away because it creates this sort of scarcity that makes them actually want to come back. And we could maybe say that there’s benefit to that going forward with the use of an office. But yeah, I think in general I didn’t know any of those things. And now what I possess in my head is a lot more robust, sort of and broader way of looking at the problem relogix is a company that I swear by. They’re a data and analytics company for workplaces and they’ve put out some really compelling global studies since the pandemic. And what we’ve basically found is that it’s not only badge swipes that have gone massively down which would sort of be analogous to that Castle Systems data that a lot of people might be familiar with. Throughout this pandemic they’ve been the ones tracking the return to the office. Occupancy has gone down by more than 50% but it’s the utilization which is really the time spent within a given environment that’s gone down even more. So what that data is ultimately telling me is that the office is kind of shifting from a place of where all work occurs to a place where people drop into for probably various reasons, some of which are heads down reasons because they maybe don’t possess a working environment that’s suitable at home to do heads down work. Or probably more likely, it’s for coming together, for gatherings, for community engagement and for collaboration. So I think that that’s a really compelling analysis, just realizing that the shift that occurred so quickly because of the pandemic which I think was probably a shift that was already underway and that would have naturally occurred over time but it’s really just been compressed dramatically. So that’s sort of something that really stands out to me and then going back to the mismatch of supply and demand. I think that while IWG group or Regis, which is kind of the more commonly known brand to maybe an end customer while they’ve been around for more than 30 years, it was really we were coming onto the scene that sort of started this consumerization of the workplace. I think that they stood for something. They were the first office brand that actually stood for something beyond the physicality of the space and I think that’s sort of like representative of the direction that we are moving in. I think we’re moving to a world where we’re actually going to see more and more freelancers over time. And let’s call them digital nomads or independents. But I think more notably we’re also going to see an employee avatar. Of sorts that embodies the persona of a freelancer or a gig Allwork.Space, but that wants the sort of job security of working for a company and being able to work on a team alongside a group of others that they interact with on a regular basis. So I think that that is going to become big and if that becomes big, the nature of how real estate is offered has a long way to go because I think it needs to look more like a retail consumer purchase than it does right now. So if I took up my crystal ball by like 2050 I wouldn’t think that there’s nearly as much traditionally leased I e. Long term leased office space in the market. It could even be sub 50% of the inventory. And I think that there are going to be more and more consumer facing real estate brands, which kind of all fit under the umbrella of space as a service or flexible real estate or coworking. There’s a lot of definitions of that space or that category, which kind of shows how early it is, because we haven’t arrived at a definition that everybody can agree on. That’s how I see things.
Frank Cottle [00:15:24] Let me interrupt there for a second. I’m going to roll back because you got a head of steam going, and I got to roll you back a little bit here. When you talk about digital nomads, let’s define that a little bit, because I don’t think it’s a broadband brush term, okay? I think historically, people that have looked at digital nomad, that the image they have in their head is me grabbing a surfboard Ukulele and a laptop and going to Bally, okay? And that’s not who digital nomads really are these days.
Dave Cairns [00:16:05] I agree with you.
Frank Cottle [00:16:07] And then you referenced people that want to be a digital nomad but still want to have a job. We have been for years calling those people slow mats, okay? Because they do have a job, but maybe they live six months on Prince Edward Island and another six months seasonally in Florida, or maybe they live in Berlin for three months, and then they move down to Lisbon. But they keep their job. They’re able to produce digitally and keep and sustain their job, but they’re slow mat. The biggest group that’s working digitally, though, are what we call digital lomats. They’re locals. And look at yourself. I’ll look at myself. I’m working on my home office today. I’m assuming you’re doing the same. I have an office that’s about 15 minutes away, a regular business office. And there’s as much likelihood that I’ll be meeting someone and doing some work over in Dallas, because I’m in Fort Worth in Dallas this week, working in their office or maybe at a restaurant. So I’m working digitally in multiple locations, but they’re all local, and that’s the biggest population of digital Allwork.Space that there is. And it’s massive. It’s massive. And I like the fact that you mentioned real logic. I’m a big fan of theirs, too, and we’ve very close. Worked very closely with them on a couple of things we’re tracking back in 2017 before the Pandemic. The fact that the remote Allwork.Space process or thing started not as a result of the Pandemic, but really started as a result of the battle for talent in the tech industry because you might be the brightest tech guy on the planet. You live on Prince Edward. You’re not moving to Silicon Valley. They can’t offer you enough money, period. So what do they do? They either don’t hire you or they say, fine, work on Prince Edward, we don’t care. That was going on in the tech industry by companies with that talent battle going on in 1718 and well before the pandemic. And that’s where people started getting comfortable with the process, and then the pandemic kicked everybody right through the threshold and that was the end of it. Overall, I think your point on vacancy is the point that you were making was not just physical space. Vacancy like a ten story building only having five floors occupied, but the utilization factor being about 43% to 48% in most internal space. That companies finally have figured that out. And I’ll give you an analogy from the travel industry. It’s kind of interesting. In the travel industry, large corporations found out, again before the pandemic, that when they sent people to travel, they used to send them to nice hotels, and they had a fairly humble per diem for expenses. And that is almost completely reversed now. They sent them to average three plus four star minus hotels, business hotels. Rather than nice luxury hotels or nice four to five star business hotels, they send them to three plus four hotels, but they give them a bigger per diem because they found that people weren’t spending time in the hotel, they just went there to sleep. But they really appreciated the fact that they could go to a nice restaurant and have a bigger per diem and that sort of thing. So that happened in travel before the pandemic. Also, obviously, pandemic shut travel down, but companies were recognizing they needed to adjust the way people used a different kind of space. And what’s more analogous to digital nomadism than travel. So the place is less important, the amenities or the people you’re working with is more important. And I think that’s something we’ve all learned from this experience and that we’ll carry forward.
Dave Cairns [00:20:27] Yeah, I call that I’ve said there’s no office amenity more valuable than the choice to go there or not. And I think that what I feel about autonomy is that it’s clearly one of the most valued things that a human being can possess. But I actually think that that’s because it allows us to decide where and with whom we so ironically, actually, malcolm globell is sort of famous last year for saying that remote work is causing people to be at ODS with themselves. Their need for autonomy and their desire to connect are at ODS. I don’t agree, because what I’m finding with remote work is that my autonomy allows me to decide, as I just said, where and with whom I belong. And so I think that there’s a huge quality of life and socioeconomic opportunity for allowing remote Allwork.Spaces to not only unshackle themselves from location families, and this is hugely important. But just to close the loop on the nomad thing, I’m totally in agreement with you, actually, and I love the term lomad. What I would sort of suggest is that rather than even focusing on where the work is being done, what I think is newer than the things that you mentioned is that the mentality of the average knowledge Allwork.Space has changed a lot. They now have possessed that flexibility because of the pandemic and I think what they want is really to behave with a lot of flexibility be able to come and go from wherever they may please throughout a day. So in other words a lot more autonomy. I don’t think most people want to be jetsetting on a plane all over the place living out of a backpack, nothing of the sort really. I think that most people want to live in a neighborhood that they can afford among people that they enjoy and frankly just live their lives. But what I think that is different is that a swell of employees are now sort of making demands that look like that of a gig Allwork.Space in the sense of really more just the autonomy that that gig Allwork.Space has to decide where and when they work. I think that that is what a far greater number of people are now demanding.
Frank Cottle [00:22:59]
Yeah, I think you’re right. It really becomes also a generational issue. Look back to the 18th night to.
Dave Cairns [00:23:13] Hear from a guy with gray hair.
Frank Cottle [00:23:15] Well you know but I’m immortal so it really doesn’t matter. I’ll go back to your comment about WeWork too to me with 43 years now in the flexible workspace industry alone ten years before that I did nothing but race yachts so I don’t really count but to me WeWorks nothing but regis with a paint job. That’s all it was, okay? They spent a ton of their investors money and outsized portion of their investors money in self promotion and some pretty good parties by the way, but that’s really what it is, what they did and their current value of about 350,000,000 versus their one time self professed value of 47 billion is evidence of the mismanagement of the company expanded. They created a myth of who they were. And an interesting point. WeWork largest location at the time in europe, which was in the city in London this is in their heyday I was there and I said well I’m kind of interested to see how this really know big top floor, beautiful building, free beer London free beer. In London Thursday afternoon. Free beer in London. Everybody’s always open streets in the pubs at that time. In the normal at 05:00. Everybody’s out. No question about it at WeWork the free beer bar was dead empty. People didn’t want to stay on campus because there weren’t nothing special about it and that one thing alone was a bellwether that their community was self proclaimed as opposed to real again, maybe they weren’t regis with a paint job, maybe they were a psychotic real estate company that needed to change their meds.
Dave Cairns [00:25:36] I agree with every single word that you just said. I think the only thing they deserve some credit for and it’s not even really about giving them credit. It’s more just what I think changed is that you could sit at a dinner table with people who weren’t in the real estate industry and mention the name WeWork. And all of a sudden, just like people know Coca Cola or Nike, they knew about WeWork. And I think that that put the office on the map as a consumer product. And I think that we’re now on a path to figuring out how to get it right.
Frank Cottle [00:26:18] Was always struggling for a public identity. Was it a business center, an executive suite, a serviced office? What was it? As coworking came along and became popularized, WeWork absolutely took the lead in making that utilization, that industry brand, if you will, better known now, they did it at a massive expense to their investors, but they did accomplish that one job, and we should all thank them for that, honestly. We should also thank them for buying a surf company and health food, drink company and those sorts of things because that was important as well. I’m not a fan of their management, as you can tell. I think you’ve got an awful lot going there and the change in the way people have run. But where do you think when we talk about vacancy, we’re massive actual vacancy now, and even a larger percentage of gray vacancy, and then the utilization is down even further. Every major company I talk to is retrenching and saying, well, I’m telling them to come back to the office, but I’m only planning on taking 50% of my on renewing 50% of my space anyway. That’s the practical reality of it. And what are you going to do with that excess space? How are you going to repurpose it? Because for cities to stay dynamic, you’ll need to repurpose that space. Not just large cities like Manhattan or Toronto, but for smaller towns where the flexible workspace industry moved into the suburbs. There’s an awful lot of secondary and tertiary market out there that large companies have space in as well. So how do you think that’ll be repurposed?
Dave Cairns [00:28:23] Well, I mean, it’s going to be really painful, obviously, and it’s going to take longer for the disruption to take shape than say, something that can be disrupted purely by technology. Like this is an evolution of a physical product, which is a lot clunkier. But what I think that this remote work revolution will do for downtown urban metros is that it will accelerate their transition from being centers of work to really centers of culture, centers of entertainment, and places to live. In other words, we may have enough office buildings that are fit for purpose to get us many more decades into the future than we had previously thought would be the case. It would be really interesting to look at a parallel universe where the pandemic never happened, and perhaps we continued to develop our downtowns with more office space than we ultimately needed, and eventually the shoe would have dropped it just would have dropped slower. So I really do think that remote work will make downtown environments more about living and less about working will, of course, still occur there. But I love that there’s a term in an article that I wrote, I read sometime last year. They defined a movement of office urbanism which was really an unshackling of the knowledge Allwork.Space to being one that kind of moved more freely within an urban environment, working along the way and being able to tap into productive workspaces. I’m going to, I guess, use some creative license and say we would have a digital wallet and we’d be able to use our credits to work from wherever or just frankly work outside of what we would define as an office. So I think we probably will move down that road of remote being more about remote work, causing more living and less working and we’ll probably experience an office urbanism revolution downtown and then I’d love to see more neighborhood coworking and 15 minutes city stuff and people being able to work near their homes. The thing that I struggle with in that department is I feel like it has to be something that a company really buys into facilitating and making sure that it happens. If you just have one office in the suburbs and say to your employees, come to it, I don’t know that that solves the problem. I think it’s probably going to be better to encourage employees to work at coworking spaces near their homes and actually lead that movement. Like companies might be able to help the suburbs transition the inventory by making the decision to empower their employees to kind of work from co working spaces wherever they want. In essence, I think we’ve got too much office inventory for the amount of foreseeable demand and some of it will be in really dire shape, just like some of the retail sector has already experienced. Some of it will get properly repurposed from an office perspective and then other stuff is going to have to find a different use. But I mean, the thing that I don’t like to see is people from the real estate industry pulling out the violin for the urban downtown core. And often, I think, weaponizing the hard times that some retailers have faced, which is nothing to joke about, but I find that it’s manipulative when a lot of people from the real estate sector use those stories. Because really what they’re trying to do is say, return to 2019 so I can continue to make a living the way that I always have. And that’s not good for society when buildings are already 50% vacant and those buildings contribute to 40% of carbon emissions globally. These are massive problems that, frankly, I care a hell of a lot more about than I do whether a broker makes a million dollars a year.
Frank Cottle [00:32:38] Well, it’s interesting that when you talk about carbon footprint and all. That sort of thing. The impact of commuting on that from outside of the city into the city, the impact of importing Allwork.Spaces from an ecological point of view is massive overall. And I think as as cities are rebuilt, 15 minutes city concept will continue to evolve overall. And we were actually advising business center operators, co working center operators back in 1718, that it was much better to build on a bike path than to build on a metropath. If you’re building a new center, you really want to build where people live and can get to conveniently. And it wasn’t for issues around the environment, it was for issues of a work life balance. Because ultimately, nobody minds being in an office. Everybody hates that damn commute. No one wants to get on a train or ride a train for an hour with a bunch of other stinky passengers and forget it. No one wants to do that. And people now have not done it for long enough that they’re not going back. All it takes is one day difference in the office and the employer recognizing or moving to a four day work week is automatically a 20% vacancy factor in the office marketplace. So all of these trends say we’re going to have to repurpose buildings, but the interesting thing is if we convert and in some markets we’ve seen this in Europe where downtowns have been revitalized by the removal of commercial and the addition of residential. And what that does is it makes a city back. Instead of a city where Allwork.Spaces are imported, it makes it not just a 15 minutes city, but a 24 hours city because the people that work there live there. And so that’s massive in the revitalization and has nothing but positive effects. So I think that’s a long term process, of course, and a very disruptive economic process to certain investment interests, but it’s going to happen.
Dave Cairns [00:35:05] Yeah. Can I add something to that? Because you’re making me think of something. So in downtown Toronto, there’s this submarket called the Entertainment district. And historically it was a place with a lot of textile factories and things like that. They were then converted into office buildings and they were those sort of classic brick and beam style buildings, very attractive to technology companies, et cetera, et cetera. That market pre pandemic in downtown Toronto was less than 1% vacant. And as of today, it’s probably I’d have to go back and look. So I may be wrong to some degree, but I believe it’s above 20% vacant when you include subleases that are being marketed as well as direct vacancy that landlords are currently holding themselves. And that doesn’t account for, as you already called it, the gray space and stuff like that. So this market has gone from the hottest submarket in the entire world, arguably because Toronto had the lowest vacancy in the world, to a ghost town from an office perspective. But, you know, what’s not a ghost town. All of the bars, all of the restaurants, and the fact that people do live there, there’s so much activity going on in that submarket. The only thing that isn’t active is the office. And so it just kind of lends to this theory of people, notably younger people, but increasingly families are raising children in apartments and things like that.
Frank Cottle [00:36:26] No, it makes perfect sense. I mean, when you look at a factory becomes an office, an office becomes a loft, a loft becomes an apartment complex. The building has less value than the dirt that it sits on when there are other amenities nearby that can support a quality of life.
Dave Cairns [00:36:51] Okay, I like that whole chronology. I might riff on that on a social media post.
Frank Cottle [00:36:57] It’ll be recorded so you can copy no copyrights here. When you look at history and I’ve have a long history around this industry, and you look at history in general over hundreds, if not thousands of years, you see a continual repurposing of things and an adjustment in cityscapes. And obviously landscapes overall as we look at officeing. Also the fact that people have always said, return to the office, and we have not used the term office ourselves for probably at least three decades now. We have always used the term office. Sing. We believe that it is a verb, an activity, not a place or a noun. So officeing is an activity, and that gives it a lot more volatility and flexibility overall in the way that you get your work done. We also have looked at things, and we don’t think in terms of square footage. We think in terms of cubic footage because the process of officeing requires not just the carpet on the floor, but the desks and the people and the services and everything that goes on inside of a workplace. That’s what’s necessary. And that could be replicated today through technology and through new management styles. And I want to go to Culture real quick in that regard. Management styles, because you indicated people living should work near home, not from home, as an alternative. Over, partially. And when people talk hybrid today, they usually say three days in the office and two days at the house. The reality is a lot of houses aren’t suitable for work. They’re not big enough. The cost of having office space, it’s not ergonomic, they aren’t suitable. So you have to have this third workplace in order to make the hybrid environment truly work. I think that’s a consideration people should go for. But go over to culture for a second, hopefully without calling me an old man again.
Dave Cairns [00:39:31] So far you sound young.
Frank Cottle [00:39:33] Okay, good. Go to culture for a second. In companies, do the corporate cultures create the leaders or do the leaders create the corporate cultures that end up being the most successful? Which route to success do you think is the most viable or the most important?
Dave Cairns [00:39:59] To me, I think culture is always co created, but it requires stewards that live out those values in real time. So I’ll steal a definition of culture from a friend of mine, Steven Schudetsky, who’s an incredible guy and someone who has worked under Simon Sinek’s brand for a while now and is now branching off in his own as a corporate consultant and author. He defines corporate culture as the following it’s values multiplied by behavior to the power of influence. So a value is never integrity. That’s just a word. Doing the right thing is integrity in action. So the value is doing the right thing, and then it’s multiplied by the behavior. Either that behavior is done or not done, or it’s positive or it’s negative, right? And then there’s the power of influence. So in the corporate context or in a political context, or even within the hierarchy of a family, the leader has their whisper is a shout. The things that they say or do, they’re like earthquakes. And so I don’t look at culture as being a place at all. And in fact, I think that’s one of the biggest problems right now is that many corporate employers believe that their office is the culture. But really, when you think about that definition, you can do the right thing on a zoom call. You can do the right thing in an office, you can do the right thing in a grocery store, on a call with colleagues, in a team, off site. The list just goes on. And that culture is manifesting itself whether or not people are in that office or they’re not. So if we want to call culture a place, it’s ultimately a myriad of places that cross physical and digital arenas. It’s ubiquitous, if it’s anything in terms.
Frank Cottle [00:42:01] Of it being a place, well, it’s interesting. I couldn’t agree more that culture is based on values or life philosophies, if you will. In our own company since the mid 80s, we’ve had two guiding principles. We’re kind of simple folk, and so we thought two was enough. Externally, our principle is members first. We think of our customers as members, and so it’s members first. And every decision we make on every product growth, everything we do, the question we ask ourselves at a board meeting is, is this what’s best for the members? And if it is, we proceed. If not, we find another way. Or we say, no, this isn’t going to work best for them, so it can’t be possibly be best for us. And internally, we just say family first. Is this best for not the individual Allwork.Space, but the entire family of the individual Allwork.Space? Because you have to think of who your teammates are and what they’re structured around. So companies can create cultures. And we’ve always been a virtual company in all sorts of different variety of shapes and forms throughout my 50 some years in business. And you can create a culture virtually, if your values are consistent and you live those values yourself. So I think that is critical. Usually what larger companies, particularly public companies, their cultures are around shareholders first. We have to keep the shareholders happy, to keep the share price up in order to get more capital, in order to grow, to beat our competitors, usually shareholders first. Today, in order to service the shareholder, the stakeholders and the companies, you really have to roll back and say it has to be customer first and it has to be the families of your employees first. If you could do those things, you probably don’t need to worry about where people are. Officeing.
Dave Cairns [00:44:30] Yeah, I dig it. And if more companies thought that way, I think that we would see less of this binary equation that we’re dealing with right now.
Frank Cottle [00:44:41] Right.
Dave Cairns [00:44:41] Which is an employer is saying, come into my office three days a week, stay at home too, or if you want to fight with me, stay at home, maybe more, but we’re going to have a fight about that. There’s this whole opportunity to bring work to people, not people to work, but only can we do that when we remove this idea that work is a place or work is the office? If we can get rid of that, a lot more people will be working from offices. I. E. Third party spaces of various shapes and forms and that’s going to be net beneficial to the employee, to the employer, and to the commercial real estate industry. So I always kind of laugh because to me, I actually think that remote work is one of the largest opportunities for the commercial real estate sector. And I always give an example from poker, actually, which is that when online poker happened, it didn’t stop live poker from happening. In fact, it actually made the live poker environment far, far bigger than it’s ever been by allowing people to qualify for tournaments on the internet and then parlaying those dollars into live stops all around the world. The European Poker Tour started. The World Series of Poker expanded greatly. They had tournament stops in Asia and Australia. Like the list just goes on. So I would actually ascertain that the same is possible here, that by unshackling Allwork.Spaces from a central office, there could theoretically be more people officeing than ever before. But that’s only going to happen if we shift the model, right? Like the long term lease static, set it and forget it model is not the model that will facilitate that outcome. That’s more likely to facilitate people working from their homes.
Frank Cottle [00:46:27] Gosh, Dave, I really have appreciated your time today. You’ve been very generous and your thoughts are very incisive and I know will be tremendously appreciated by our audience and our readership. How can people reach you should they choose to do so? What would be the easiest way if someone wanted to reach out to you?
Dave Cairns [00:46:48] Yeah, thank you for the conversation. First and foremost, I really enjoyed it, too. And then I’m in one place, LinkedIn. I post content daily or sometimes more than once a day. And anyone who wants to connect me with me, that’s the way to go.
Frank Cottle [00:47:09] Stuff there myself and believe that that has an awful lot to do with the future of work. So let’s go for chapter.
Dave Cairns [00:47:18] Yeah, you should call me back on that one. We could do 30 or 40 minutes just on that.
Frank Cottle [00:47:22] Easily. Easily. I actually lived in a hollow room for two days working with a team in Paris, and I was in Irvine, California, but I was in Paris, and I’d walk down the street on a treadmill, but the whole streets moving past, it was fascinating. It was fun. It was fun. It I get it. Okay. Thank you very much. We’ll look up. Look forward to moving things forward and the next time.
Dave Cairns [00:47:52] Yep. Thanks so much. Really appreciate it.
Frank Cottle [00:47:54] Take care, Dave. Bye bye.