<img src="" style="display:none;">
DEMO iOFFICE
banner-thumb

ALL EPISODES

Episode 80

“Boldly Transforming the Human Experience” and Driving the Future of Work

with David Wagner of NELSON Worldwide

David Wagner is Vice President of Global Solutions at NELSON Worldwide where he leads the go-to-market strategy, client relationship management, and corporate development functions to help clients successfully achieve their real estate and business goals. Mike Petrusky asks David about how NELSON uses innovation while implementing holistic solutions including brand strategy, user insights, workplace consulting, graphic design, interior design and architecture. They discuss the trends and challenges in the workplace today and explore what is driving future workplace experiences. Mike asks David about the influence of other industries like retail and hospitality on the journey of employees in organizations today. This episode brings valuable insight and inspiration that will help you be a workplace innovator!

Elevating the Employee Experience

Download the FREE “Workplace & Space Management Software” report from Verdantix: https://www.iofficecorp.com/verdantix-report-mp

Connect with David on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-c-wagner/

Learn more about NELSON Worldwide: https://nelsonworldwide.com/

Watch Mike’s Ted-style talk from Dublin: https://youtu.be/DudLzQoU1X0

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikepetrusky/

Share your thoughts with Mike via email: podcast@iOFFICECORP.com

Learn more about iOFFICE’s workplace experience solutions: https://www.iOFFICECORP.com/

Read transcript here:

Mike Petrusky:

Hey, I wanted to take just a minute to tell you about a new report that was released recently. It was published by Verdantix, an independent research and consulting firm. And in it, they conducted a review of the 23 most prominent space and workplace management software companies.

            And guess what? iOFFICE was named the leader in two categories. iOFFICE scored highest overall and highest in workplace services. Awesome, right?

            If you've been thinking about workplace and space management software, and you're just not sure which option out there is right for you, I'd like to send you a free copy of the report so you can check it out for yourself. All you need to do is go to iofficecorp.com/verdantix-report-mp. That's right, MP as in DJ Mike P, and I'll also leave this link in the show notes for you to make it easy. I hope it helps with your decision-making process as you explore the available software tools that will help you elevate the employee experience in your organization.

David Wagner:

There's the physical element of this. How you serving the physical needs? How you serving the technology needs, because you've got to integrate that. How you providing this services, right? Are you reacting to someone's services, or are you proactively doing this?

Mike Petrusky:

This is the Workplace Innovator Podcast, where we talk with corporate real estate and facility management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by iOFFICE, the leading employee experience focused IWMS software that delivers real-time data and mobile tools to help you intelligently manage your digital workplace.

            Hey there, and welcome back, everybody. It's episode 80 of the Workplace Innovator Podcast. I'm your host, Mike Petrusky. And while another week has passed us by, I still have not been home since the last time we met together here on the show. That's right. After a fantastic week in Phoenix for [inaudible] World workplace, as this episode is hitting your devices, I am in Orange County, California at the Anaheim Convention Center for the CoreNet Global Summit 2019. The fun and the music never stops for DJ Mike P.

            It has been a great time here. I had the chance to present again this week to my friends at CoreNet. And while here, I also was able to reconnect in-person with today's guest.

            David Wagner is vice president of global solutions at Nelson Worldwide. We met for the first time about a month ago, back on the East Coast, while we were both at a really great event hosted by Nelson in Philadelphia. I learned so much from David. He shared his story about the past couple of decades, where he has spent time in all areas of the real estate industry, from design and construction to being on the owner side of the table, where he is a user of the workplace services that we so often discuss here on the podcast, to now benefiting from all of his past experiences working at Nelson, where he gets to help clients successfully achieve their real estate and business goals.

            We talked about a lot of great stuff and I can't wait for you to hear it all, so let's get right to it.

            The Workplace Innovator is on-location in Philadelphia today. I am sitting in a conference room at Nelson Worldwide, here just off Independence Mall in historic Central City, Philadelphia. And joining me today on the show is David Wagner. Welcome, Dave.

David Wagner:

Thank you. Thank you very much, Mike. Yes, we're just a hundred yards from the Liberty Bell.

Mike Petrusky:

This is amazing, historic. I'm from Washington DC, but I'm jaded and used to the whole DC city setting. But here in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love and the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell...

David Wagner:

You can feel the weight of it.

Mike Petrusky:

It's all right here.

David Wagner:

Yeah.

Mike Petrusky:

It's all right here. Now David, for the audience at home, please tell us what you do, and a little bit about Nelson.

David Wagner:

Sure. Thanks, Mike. My official title is the Vice President of Global Solutions, which is really just a term for our platform that we use to service large enterprise-wide clients. The big brand names in the United States and elsewhere that span geographies, different asset types of practices and services, right?

            We do a tremendous amount of work at Nelson. It's a design-centric firm that operates through the full continuum of consulting and strategic planning, all the way through that design and engineering components, and then ultimately through IWMS deployments such as iOFFICE, who are a strategic partner.

Mike Petrusky:

Excellent.

David Wagner:

But also tactical planning, change management, everything that helps accommodate and ultimately drive and measure the experience of occupants in this space.

Mike Petrusky:

I love it. And I love the brand you have developed online. The first thing I saw was your tagline saying "boldly transforming the human experience." Tell me what that means to you.

David Wagner:

It's all about it, man. It's all about it. As I said, we're design centric, but it's that design centricity that allows us to bring in the other services and always be focusing on what the occupants or the visitors are ultimately seeing, whether it's how they work, live, learn, play, thrive. However they may do that, we bring that into this.

            We've got different practices in hospitality and retail if you think about that, right? Those are places that are living and dying by the consumer experience.

Mike Petrusky:

Oh, absolutely.

David Wagner:

Yeah. Nelson has the ability to bring those attributes into the corporate workplace from the experiential perspective. It really is a bold transformation underway.

Mike Petrusky:

So much great stuff. I can't wait to talk to you more about it. But before we get too far, Dave, my audience demands that I get to know the personal side of my guests.

David Wagner:

Uh-oh.

Mike Petrusky:

We're just meeting here this morning, but the fastest way to get to know who David Wagner really is, is to ask you this question.

            What kind of music do you listen to?

David Wagner:

Oh, okay. Well, born and raised in New Jersey...

Mike Petrusky:

Me, too.

David Wagner:

So I am going to fall back every time to Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel.

Mike Petrusky:

The Boss and the Piano Man.

David Wagner:

It's going to happen every single time. Own every single piece of it. Yep. Only the Good Die Young, Born in the USA, you name it, it's all there.

            Now I will tell you, though, I do dabble in other areas, depending upon whether I'm in the car cruising. I can easily go back into Elton John, almost anything. It's there. When I want to start to move into a country side of things, I'll go into Charlie Daniels.

Mike Petrusky:

Devil Went Down to Georgia?

David Wagner:

Devil Went Down to Georgia, you know it. I just love to see Billy Joel's fingers move on that piano and I love to see Charlie Daniels do it on that fiddle. Incredible. Real skill. Really cool.

Mike Petrusky:

Do you have an inspirational quote you could share with us?

David Wagner:

I actually have a couple. In my mind over the years, I've tried to separate them from business and personal, but in the end, gosh, they blend and it covers it all.

            I think the one that I've landed on, on more than one occasion, has been that success is not final, failure is not fatal, and it's the courage to continue that really counts. That actually came from Winston Churchill.

Mike Petrusky:

Winston Churchill, one of my favorites.

David Wagner:

You remember that one?

Mike Petrusky:

I do.

David Wagner:

Then the other one along the lines that I think I probably tried to advise my kids on, but I could probably take my own advice more often than not, is that sometimes you never really know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

Mike Petrusky:

Wow, yeah. I like that.

David Wagner:

That is the ever-popular Dr. Seuss. I've got Winston Churchill and Dr. Seuss.

Mike Petrusky:

Deep thoughts by Dr. Seuss. That's awesome. Here we are. 2019, Dave, is almost over. We'll be in the year 2020 before we know it. Where are we today? What do you think the key drivers, the key trends are in the marketplace today?

David Wagner:

Well, there's so much collateral on this out there. Clearly, we have a mobility that has been just progressing forever. The real-time access to things, the work anywhere, any way through any device mentality, agility of the corporations, which is driving agility of the workplaces themselves along there. Everything is tech-enabled. One way or another, it's all there.

            And then there's elements of where sustainability has moved into wellness now. Again, around the experiential piece of this, it's the first time we're on the verge of five generations in the workplace at the same time, every one of which brings their own characteristics, their own value sets, and their own demands.

            But if I were to sum all that up, it goes back to what you said just a couple of minutes ago. It's all coming into the experience, whether it's generational demands, whether it's the talent war. Whatever it is, it's all coming back to the experience. That pendulum has swung big time. Alter the experience for the occupants and for the visitors in any way.

Mike Petrusky:

Absolutely, Dave. What you're describing is this blending of how we've taken ideas from the hospitality industry and other sectors. Tell me about that. What are your thoughts on the biggest possibilities or opportunities that we can get from those other industries?

David Wagner:

Sure, sure. Yeah. That's been probably the neatest part about coming back to the Nelson family of practices, having retail and hospitality embedded within this company, and being able to bring those design thought leaders into the corporate workplace, and that blending. Our hospitality practice leader has coined the term "bleisure," the blending of business and leisure.

            Again, as you think about these curated experience, if you don't like what the experience you have in a hotel, chances are, you're not only not going back to that, but you may never go to that chain or its sister chains ever again.

Mike Petrusky:

Huge implications.

David Wagner:

The same thing on the retail side. From the minute you walk in, you can map a journey from digitally seeking a room and how you get into it, from the way you're greeted, and you access it.

            The blending of the spaces in the... These things are rolling over. Next I'm sure we're going to hear "workplace patality." We're going to go from "bleisure" to "workplace patality." That's a...

Mike Petrusky:

Trademark sign, David Wagner. Copyright 2019.

David Wagner:

That's right. But again, if you look at... Our spaces are composed of different elements that get mixed together. You've got the guest's journey. You have your own occupants' journey in corporate workplaces, one way or the other. Things are being curated for us, all about that individual's experience. There's a lot of socialization in these workplaces. Again, retail, hospitality, blending in. People want to be alone, but they don't want to be lonely. Alone, but not lonely. They want to go to, not through. These are store concepts. These are hospitality and hotel concepts that are working their way into corporate workplace, as well.

            You have destinations for business, but hey, you're going to tack on a couple of days and have some fun, right? Who among us hasn't gone to the beach for fun and ended up checking their emails and such while they're sitting there? That works that both ways, right? That merger of all of these things, we're truly working anywhere, anytime, through any device.

            That seamless digital journey is married up with what they want to be the seamless physical journey: in and out of the office, the collection of spaces, the way we serve it with food and beverage. I look at some of these popup things in stores and in hotels, and I see them in corporate America, too. I'll head off to a tech company's headquarters and I'll see literally the same branding, the same food bar, the same everything that I'm seeing in a Hilton. I'm seeing coworking places pop up in corners of lobbies in hotels. It's amazing how these things are all blending together and you have the ability to bring those practices together, all around the experience again. It's really pretty cool.

Mike Petrusky:

It is cool. It is cool. And I always say, Dave, on the show, that we want to not just talk about the trends, but face the challenges. What are you seeing as the biggest obstacles to success when it comes to implementing some of these workplace strategies?

David Wagner:

On a more personal level, it's probably the tremendous diversity of the talent and the people who are in the space. As we said, five generations. How do you satisfy them all? They want everything from junk food to healthy. They want everything from heads-down space to open collaborative. There's this tremendous war right now about their open space is dead.

            In the end, it's all about choice, really. That's the foundation of experience. People feeling like they're empowered to make an informed decision, and that the choices are there. The challenge is, how do you give them all those space types? How do you give them the right number of those space types, when you have such tremendous diversity in the workplace?

            You're going to guess wrong, no matter what you do. Do I need three conference rooms that hold four people, or do I need five that hold two? You're going to guess wrong. The only thing you can do is hope to design for the flexibility and the agility in that workplace to do it.

            Again, one of the biggest challenges has got to be the diversity of the talent that's using the spaces today. The other piece, again, is the tech enablement. I'm not sure whether the tech is enabling and catching up, or the workplace is trying to catch up with tech. It's just a big, blurred soup at this point in time. It's always popping up new.

Mike Petrusky:

I hear this gap exists between our personal tech experiences and what we have in the workplace. What do you have to say about that?

David Wagner:

It is. It's getting better, and it's in pockets. Of course, real-time access and all the social media lets us think that it's everywhere and it's not. There are those being left behind. Everyone's portfolio isn't the same.

            But people definitely expect from the minute they get up and they're checking their text, or they're using IOT and they're talking to Alexa and the lights are on and the shower's starting. They're expecting when they get in the car, that that same thing's going to happen. Ultimately, autonomous driving. The tolls get paid for, Lord knows where the bill goes. When they land in the office, suddenly they've stepped back 10 years. I don't know where I'm going. Where's the wayfinding? My phone doesn't work anymore. My WiFi sucks, whatever it is.

            The corporate side, in a lot of places, is catching up, and it has to. The gap is still there. Again, the key is diversity. Diverse gap. I've seen places where it's closer, and I've seen places where it's so far it's like you just stepped back into the pyramids.

Mike Petrusky:

Do you have any thoughts on, again, human beings, and that worry about Big Brother in the workplace? It's a different relationship we have with our employer than we have with, say, Uber and Google and the people that we just don't think twice about sharing our data with. Something happens when we walk through the door of our workplace. Do you see that as one of the big hurdles to getting this frictionless experience in the built environment?

David Wagner:

Yeah, there's definitely a piece of that. Obviously, the bring your own device is here to stay. How, from a cyber security perspective, we protect that data, integrate that into the fabric of the architecture of the technology solutions, is a big, big piece.

            But I think where you're really going is the whole sensor and the IOT concept. Corporate real estate execs are not just concerned with the experience. That pendulum is there, but below that, table stakes is optimization of your footprint. Are you providing the right space at the right time? Are you ahead of the demand? You don't be too far ahead because you've got dormant space. You don't want to overshoot the demand because now you've got sunk costs. How do you do that? How do we measure utilization? How do we use our systems to do that? It's just the archaic badge-in, badge-out, or whether we're triangulating on the systems and the tools, the WiFi, or whether we're literally putting a chip in you, or a sensor on your chair.

            There's a lot of animosity around that. There's a lot of cost associated with it and maintenance, but a lot of animosity. Do we really have the right to know who's in that conference room, or does it just need to be reserved?

            You're spot-on, Mike. This is a big area, big emotional clash out there right now.

Mike Petrusky:

It is. How do we communicate the value of what they're getting? I know that Nelson is not just designing spaces, but working with companies to help implement change. Change management seems to be redefined today. You have to change on the fly, right? It's like midair fueling, one of my guests told me. Do you have any practical advice to people trying to move their organization forward in these areas?

David Wagner:

Sure, yeah. You're right. It is all about the change management. Sometimes it's an overused term and it means a broad spectrum of different things to different people. But ultimately, it comes back to what's the value proposition for the employee and for the company.

            For the company, it's clear now, and it's actually swaying to the employee's advantage. It's a talent war. Other people are going to offer this, so if you don't, you're going to be on the out. The corporation is in the defensive mode right now. It's a buyer's market in that regard. But for the occupants, it's about the value proposition, which goes back to again, what is it that they're looking for? Whether it's wellness and sustainability, choice and empowerment, the biggest obstacle, as you know, is moving those generations from where they were to the next. Do we really have to move all of them?

            Again, it goes back to having all of the choices available, the different space types, how you march them through it. You're always going to hear concerns about noise and eye contact. There are solutions for them, but they don't work for everyone. Again, you've still got to have some hard-walled, or some ability for people to do heads-down.

            You're going to hear concerns about security when the reality of situation is, when you're an open area, you're even more secure because you're conscious of who's around you. You don't leave things out.

Mike Petrusky:

I haven't thought about that. Yeah.

David Wagner:

It's how you convey that to people, and we do it through pilots. We do it through starting that change management journey really early. Before we were doing some programming, we haven't even really put something on the board yet. Understanding what people want, what motivates them, and taking them through that whole journey.

            It's going to start months before you start design. It's going to continue 90 to 120 days after you move in. It's not a once and done type environment. A lot of companies don't quite get that because it's an investment in time and energy along the way.

Mike Petrusky:

So, buzz words. We talk about a lot of different things on this show that I feel we are in danger of losing the meaning of some of these concepts like employee experience. I hear it all the time. How do you define it, and what does it really mean to you?

David Wagner:

Well, it's deeply personal and it's individual. It's very easy for us to fall back, as you said, on a hackneyed word and basically say it's a standardization of the experience. Well, that isn't going to work.

            Again, it goes back to when the person gets up in the morning. They've got an experience till they hit the lobby.

            Then what happened to that experience down the line? It's still deeply personal, individual, but in the end, there's the physical element of this, how you serving the physical needs, how you serving the technology needs, because you've got to integrate that. How you providing this services. Are you reacting to someone's services, or are you proactively doing this?

            You think about the facility management world that we've seen over the decades, over a hundred years. The things that were revolutionary at one point in time are table stakes now. Temperatures have to be right. Doors have to open. No squeaks, no sound. It's got to be clean. Toilets have to flush. The soup's got to be warm. There's no dust bunnies in the stairwell.

            Those are just givens. But ultimately, we're not going to be graded anymore on how well we respond to somebody's concern about their experience. We're going to be graded on not having any concerns or issues raised about it, which means we have to be proactive. We have to anticipate.

            That's where more of these great buzzwords come in: machine learning, artificial intelligence, all that stuff. How are we going to get that data? How are we going to get those insights to proactively provide the services to be there before the faucet leaks? To know that Mary likes tomato soup, not onion soup, and it's readily available. Every opportunity to figure that out and to make the channel seamless, that lets them know it's available, to push it to them, is where the facility management world is really going to be able to feed the experience.

Mike Petrusky:

Ah, I feel like we've just scratched the surface, but we've got to wrap up. Dave, thanks for meeting me here in Philadelphia, and thanks for being on the Workplace Innovator Podcast.

David Wagner:

It's been a pleasure, Mike. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for having me.

Mike Petrusky:

There you have it, everyone. David Wagner sharing his insights about the state of the market today.

            I really learned a lot from my time with Dave, and it is awesome to see a company like Nelson putting into practice so many of the strategies and using the technologies that we talk about here, that help them deliver frictionless experiences in the workplace. Such great stuff.

            I hope you enjoyed our conversation as much as I did, and I hope to get home soon. Until then, I hope you'll come back again for another show as we continue to explore ways that we can encourage and inspire each other to be a Workplace Innovator. Peace out.

            You've been listening to the Workplace Innovator Podcast. I hope you found this discussion beneficial as we work together to build partnerships that lead to innovative workplace solutions. For more information about how iOFFICE can help you create an employee-centric workspace by delivering digital technology that enhances the employee experience, visit iofficecorp.com.