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Episode 83

Defining Your Workplace - A Vision for the Future (Part 1)

with Brendan Robinson of Under Armour

Brendan Robinson is Director of Facilities and Operations at Under Armour where he leads a team that is working hard to redefine their deliverables in FM with a new focus on Stewardship, Mission, and Community Building. In October 2019, Mike Petrusky met with Brendan at Under Armour’s Global Headquarters in Baltimore, MD, to broadcast a webinar called “Defining Your Workplace - A Vision for the Future”. This webinar features a conversation about what Brendan sees as the most significant industry trends and the strategies that will be most essential as we move into the workplace of 2020 and beyond. It will inform you and inspire you be a workplace innovator in your organization!

The Next Generation of IWMS: iXMS

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

Download the full webinar conversation: https://www.iofficecorp.com/webinar-download-defining-your-future-workplace

Connect with Brendan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bjrobinson/

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 the full 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? So 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 iofficeorp.com/verdantix-report-mp. That's right. M-P, 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.

Brendan Robinson:

Talk to corporate strategy, understand what it is your company is doing and why they're doing it and how they're going to achieve those goals? What's the five year plan? What big transformational initiatives are coming in that? So that's always has to be there at the forefront of any facility manager's mind.

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 everyone, and welcome to The Workplace Innovator Podcast. It's the show where we hope to bring you both the information and inspiration you need to help move your organization forward into the future of the built environment. My name is Mike Petrusky and every once in a while, things come together and I get to be a part of something really special and that is exactly what happened last month, when I visited with Brendan Robinson at Under Armour's global headquarters in Baltimore. Brendan and I had met earlier in the year at a conference where we had a really interesting discussion and an idea was born during that first conversation. Brendan shared with me some of his thoughts about all the things affecting facility management and real estate leaders as you are managing your workplaces today. Brendan told me about how his team at Under Armour was working hard to redefine their deliverables in FM with a new focus on stewardship mission and community building.

            And I was fascinated by it all and I knew it would be a great topic that you, my workplace innovator audience would really appreciate. So Brendan and I decided to create what turned out to be our most popular webinar of the year so far. We had so much interest in reaction to this presentation and I wanted to be sure that you had the chance to hear as much of it as possible. So today I have part one of two parts of the iOFFICE webinar, where I asked Brendan Robinson to share his thoughts and his vision for the future of the workplace. Check it out.

            Hey everyone, and welcome to another iOFFICE webinar. I'm excited to have you with us today for a webinar called Defining Your Workplace: A Vision for the Future. We have an incredible guest for you today. Brendan Robinson, welcome to the show.

Brendan Robinson:

Thank you very much, Mike. Good to be here.

Mike Petrusky:

You and I were talking about six months ago. We ran into each other at the NFMT show right here in Baltimore. We talked about kind of what's going on in the world of FM and we were just kind of sharing some ideas. I'd given a presentation and you had some really cool thoughts. I said, "I've got to get you on the podcast." And that turned into this broader conversation about your vision for the future, right? What are we going to talk about today?

Brendan Robinson:

Yeah. Today we're going to talk about how workplace leaders can look at the things that are happening in the world and bring them into the context of what they're doing and what's going on in their own companies and their industries and figure out what they want to do in the workplace that will be relevant and pitch those plans and then put them into action.

Mike Petrusky:

Awesome. Well, you're the director of facilities and operations here at Under Armour and how long have you been doing this?

Brendan Robinson:

Been here for five years. Just over.

Mike Petrusky:

Excellent. But that's not the beginning of your career, wasn't five years ago. Was it?

Brendan Robinson:

No, not at all. I've been in this industry for quite a while. I got my start in the Navy as a ship's maintenance officer running our preventative and corrective maintenance programs on ships.

Mike Petrusky:

Great experience.

Brendan Robinson:

And then my experience has sort of been, I'll say broad and shallow. So I worked in design for architecture firms in healthcare construction, in monumental historic buildings and now for a publicly traded for profit company. So it's a lot of different experience along the way and a lot of different environments.

Mike Petrusky:

A really cool place to be. We are here in Baltimore, right alongside the Baltimore Harbor and he gave me a brief tour of the campus, it's amazing. So many cool things going on. I hope to share some photos that give you all online, a sense of what it's like here at the Under Armour global headquarters. So we'll get to that here in a second but before we get too far, I want to inspire our audience a little bit, Brendan. I asked you to share a motivational quote with us and you told me about this guy who's this?

Brendan Robinson:

That is John Muir.

Mike Petrusky:

John Muir. I had never heard of him but-

Brendan Robinson:

What?

Mike Petrusky:

... a little research ... I know. I mean, I lived a sheltered life. I don't really know these people but he's the founder of the Sierra Club.

Brendan Robinson:

Absolutely.

Mike Petrusky:

And he had had a really cool quote. Tell us about it.

Brendan Robinson:

The quote that I like from him is, When we try and pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. And you can take that quote in a lot of different directions but in the context of what we're talking about today, I think it means the work that everybody does matters and we're all interconnected and if we're going to tackle opportunities or solve problems, we need to work cross collaboratively and together to achieve those goals.

Mike Petrusky:

I love that. We talk about that all the time on this show and we're going to talk about a holistic view of the workplace and some of the things that you've seen throughout your career and I can't wait to get in to the mind of Brendan here and see what your vision is for the future because I do often ask about the industry trends and challenges but there's more to it than that, isn't there? So you've thought this through and you've got a presentation for us. So I'm going to turn it over to you, Brendan. I'll ask some questions along the way. So Defining Your Workplace: A Vision for the Future. Take it away.

Brendan Robinson:

Thank you very much, Mike, and really happy to be here. I mean, I think some folks may have recommended me because I at times have been pretty outspoken, pushing designers to really consider user experience or pushing a technology vendor to be more open and less proprietary but they're so many-

Mike Petrusky:

Your reputation proceeds you.

Brendan Robinson:

... Yes. So I'm here to dispel those rumors. I'm not that tough. I'm a softie and I appreciate the fact that there are so many people trying to make the workplace better for future. A lot of the folks that you've had on this show, it's amazing. I listen to it in the car and-

Mike Petrusky:

Oh, thank you.

Brendan Robinson:

... I just want to contribute to that conversation. So I really appreciate this opportunity-

Mike Petrusky:

Excited to have you. Very cool.

Brendan Robinson:

... to share my thoughts. So anyone listening to this podcast is they probably familiar with a lot of certain trends. It could be employee experience, multi-generations in the workplace. They could be experiencing digital transformation within their workplace that they're trying to respond to or the effects of the sharing economy and coworking on our real estate portfolios.

Mike Petrusky:

Absolutely.

Brendan Robinson:

But there's a few other trends that I'm seeing that I wanted to mention off the top. In all the places I worked, I think I've experienced these and they seem to be accelerating. The first for employees I think there's a lot of reorganization going on. Nonstop reorganizations, whether you're a part of a growing company or whether you're in a big company, that's trying to be nimble and it may be being disrupted and there's a lot of moves and new reporting structures and new collaboration that has to occur with different teams there. I see that as a big trend. The next one for workers would be corporate communications. As companies grow, it's really hard for corporations to communicate to teammates on how to use all the technology, how to get things done, how to get a work order. It's become like an oral tradition. It's like folklore.

Mike Petrusky:

Passed down from generation.

Brendan Robinson:

Yeah. And so you have to ... people don't know how to get things they want done in the workplace. It's often not covered in orientation or whatever and then shifting gears to the facility team, I think a big trend I want to hear it talked about more is the new skill sets that the engineers and facilities workers have to have. They have to work on systems over equipment and analyze data more than turning wrenches or making electrical connections nowadays.

Mike Petrusky:

Absolutely. The evolution of the facility management world. We hear about it all the time.

Brendan Robinson:

And so in this context of all these trends and business environment, the key question I think is which way do you run? Where do you go with all this stuff? You can't chase all the trends, you can't retrain everyone right away. How do you figure out what's going on? What's going to be relevant and what to focus on moving forward. That's what I really wanted to talk about today and so you've had a lot of authors on here, bloggers, I'm not any of those. I haven't written a book-

Mike Petrusky:

Not yet.

Brendan Robinson:

... but I did give you a couple of slides with my kind of personal framework for how I've approached this in the workplace that I'd love to share with the team.

Mike Petrusky:

Yes you did. Let's get started here, Know Your Industry.

Brendan Robinson:

So it's three step process. Step one, is to know your industry, right? And when I say this, I mean, know your industry as it relates to the workplace. And so there's a number of things you can do. Listening to webinars like this, you can learn about the trends in general in the workplace. We just talked about them but take a look, snoop around your organization and which things apply? Do you have multiple generations? Are you right next to ... we work where a bunch of people are interested in coworking for their teams? Are you in the midst of a digital disruption within your industry? So which of these things apply to your company and then take a look at other companies, peers and usually you can snoop around online or listen to things or talk to people who used to work there and find out about what are the workplaces like at your peer industries and so I can go and find a Nike or Adidas and find a video of their office or talk to people like that for sure.

Mike Petrusky:

Yeah. Don't tell anybody we're snooping online and seeing other presentations but that's what's great about this kind of sharing economy. It does even come into the world of thought leadership and information sharing. We want to be authentic. So therefore we're open books. We put out information and let other people digest that and hopefully make it valuable for them and I think that helps all ships rise at high tide.

Brendan Robinson:

Absolutely. And we've invited other leaders here to give them tours and share best practices.

Mike Petrusky:

That's great.

Brendan Robinson:

Another great thing to look is what is the leadership of your own company saying? Our leaders talk about how they want teammates to be first, how they're their most important asset and how we want the experience of being in our offices to be wonderful and seamless. Pay attention to those things, grab them because when you're pitching ideas later, that's the way to go to a leader and say, "Hey, you've made this pledge to our teammates. Let me help you bring that to reality. Here's a way we can do that in a way that's really relevant. So I think that's the number one thing.

Mike Petrusky:

Really cool. Prove your value, everybody.

Brendan Robinson:

Yeah. And then kind of the last two things I would mention before we jump on is just survey your existing technology. Inevitably, there is some software that you own that your company is invested in that you're under utilizing. So it could be a CMMS software, could be something in the Microsoft suite, it could be a business intelligence tool that lets you automate something or provide better data to leadership and so that's always an opportunity when you don't have to buy something new and then of course you can look at what emerging things, emerging technology trends are out there covered heavily in other webinars and podcasts here and in conferences around the globe. So certainly look at those shiny new things and what's changing and what you might be interested in piloting. So that's your baseline there for just knowing what you have what's available to you and what's relevant to your workplace. That's the starting point.

Mike Petrusky:

I like that because there are a lot of shiny objects out there. It's a fast moving world and technology and fusion is exciting but at the same time, take your time, be deliberate and understand your needs before going through that expo hall or shopping for that next great tech tool. Make sure it's something that's going to really deliver value and bring an ROI.

Brendan Robinson:

Yeah. You don't want to go to a conference and come home with a new religion.

Mike Petrusky:

That's right.

Brendan Robinson:

You have to figure out what's relevant.

Mike Petrusky:

All right. What's up next, Read the Future.

Brendan Robinson:

So I think this is the most important step is not ... because we're in motion. There's a lot of change going on and so there's a Wayne Gretzky quote that we love is that, You have to skate to where the puck is going.

Mike Petrusky:

Yes, indeed.

Brendan Robinson:

And so how do you figure out where the world's going and what's going to be relevant to your workplace? And so I look at this through the lens of three specifics or vectors. A worker desires, social trends and business outcomes. You can never lose sight of the business you're in and what outcomes your business is trying to achieve.

Mike Petrusky:

Absolutely.

Brendan Robinson:

So from a worker desire standpoint, I think workers, they're more than just productivity. They're more than just collaboration or experience. Workers today are very, very self aware. They know what they want and they expect their wants to be your priorities.

Mike Petrusky:

And as a workplace leader, you have to anticipate their needs, right?

Brendan Robinson:

Absolutely, absolutely. You want to help them get work done but you need to help them with personal needs, with respite time managing stress. So there's a framework of looking at groups and individuals and productive time but also respite time and bonding time for groups and you have to accommodate all those things and so I think workplace leaders, if you focus on creating simplicity, if you can try and find a way to improve on communications, anticipate those needs and then ultimately make it easy for people to get stuffed on remove those friction points, that's where to spend your time to please workers.

Mike Petrusky:

A frictionless experience, Brendan. That's what we're all about.

Brendan Robinson:

It's the dream [inaudible 00:15:41].

Mike Petrusky:

Walking onto a corporate campus is not that easy but it's essential. So that's really cool that you're making that a top priority for your organization.

Brendan Robinson:

Absolutely. Now, from a social trend standpoint, corporations, public corporation especially like where I work can't live in a vacuum, we have to be aware of what's going on in the world and our consumers and our stakeholders expect us to take, positions there and some of the social trends that I'm seeing that are affecting our workplace, number one, is climate change. It's a global environmental threat but it also has a very localized impact. So the impacts to us here on the Chesapeake Bay are different to someone in California or in Shanghai and businesses we emit greenhouse gases and produce carbon and so we need to be part of the solution, our investors, our customers want us to do that and that's definitely a big part of our workplace strategy. Another social trend is wellness. One of those facility managers who also does operations, so I have food, I have gym, move management, mail, all those services that people love to have strong opinions about-

Mike Petrusky:

We just walked by of a beautiful outdoor turf field where there was a yoga class going on and the open air gym here. It's all part of that.

Brendan Robinson:

... Absolutely. World class gyms, for sure. Yeah.

Mike Petrusky:

Love it.

Brendan Robinson:

It's all part of the environment here at Under Armour and so food and fitness are of strategic importance to employee retention. You got to do a great job with that. Things like VOC's and CO2 levels. These are not just the world of the engineer anymore. Teammates want to know the air they're breathing and the systems that we're working with and they want access to that data and it creates a bunch of really, really interesting, fun discussion and decision points you can get into. I mean, people love to say that sitting is the new smoking.

Mike Petrusky:

Right. I've heard that.

Brendan Robinson:

So if I don't buy you a sit to stand desk is that the equivalent of me forcing you to smoke all day.

Mike Petrusky:

That's right. You're the bully the back alley handed a pack of cigarettes to your employee.

Brendan Robinson:

Indeed. The well standard will say, I need much higher ventilation rates than ASHRAE. So if I don't do that, am I hurting you? And then also say very, very bright lights help people with their sleep at night but when we put in very, very bright lights, we get complaints and headaches and things like that and so we could talk about that for another hour [crosstalk 00:00:18:11], entirely but I think really workplace leaders need to educate themselves, talk to these well building standards and other people who are purporting, talk to professor [Allen 00:00:18:24], in Harvard and all those sources to see, look at the research and develop your own opinion because there's a lot of different opinions and what level of service you're going to provide code minimum or some third party standard or your own. There's a lot to that and it's very, very interesting debate within the workplace for sure.

Mike Petrusky:

That's right. Okay.

Brendan Robinson:

The last social trend, I know we're spending a while on this but I think it's super important is diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Mike Petrusky:

Yes.

Brendan Robinson:

People need to feel comfortable in the company that they work for and they want to work for a company that they can be proud of and this is tremendously important in a big source of discussion between us and human resources and leadership and so we want to change the way that we hire, promote talent. We want to change the type of environments that we have in the office to increase engagement scores for our team and we're enhancing the holidays and celebration and recognition events that we have in the workplace and all these kinds of fall within that workplace facilities leader realm and it's a big area of discussion and we're excited to be having it and I'm excited to be in a company that has a very strong emphasis on this in delivering those workplace experiences to teammates.

Mike Petrusky:

So many places we can have an impact on the organization.

Brendan Robinson:

Yeah.

Mike Petrusky:

And we have to keep in mind the business outcomes though, right?

Brendan Robinson:

Yes. We still need to achieve the mission of the organization. So you can't get away from that. Absolutely know your mission, vision and values. Talk to corporate strategy, understand what it is your company is doing and why they're doing it and how they're going to achieve those goals. What's the five year plan. What big transformational initiatives are coming in that and then whether they ask you to or not, you need to keep up with those sort of things. So what are you doing in the workplace to move along with the company, help them achieve those goals and be ready as they transform. So that's always has to be there at the forefront of any facility manager's mind.

Mike Petrusky:

Know your why.

Brendan Robinson:

Indeed.

Mike Petrusky:

Let's take a quick intermission. We do something on the show called webinar karaoke but I don't want to put you on the spot. I'm not going to make you sing. Instead we'll take the jeopardy approach. Today's category, 1990s rock music and the answer Brendan for you is, this is Brendan's favorite 90s band. Any idea what the possibilities could be here?

Brendan Robinson:

There are so, so many good 90s fans, it might be hard to narrow it down.

Mike Petrusky:

Well, here's a few that you shared with me before we started. How about Green Day folks? Do you have the time to listen to me whine. A little Weezer. What's that song? Hip hip [inaudible 00:21:16], hip hip. That's Weezer.

Brendan Robinson:

Island In The Sun.

Mike Petrusky:

Island In The Sun and then of course, Hootie & the Blowfish, Darius Rucker, before his country stardom, he was hootie. So what do you think? What's your favorite of these three options?

            Oh boy. Now, that's what I call a podcast cliff hanger folks. You will need to tune in again next week for part two of my discussion with Brendan Robinson to find out not only which of those bands was his favorite but to hear the rest of what Brendan shared about how Under Armour manages their facilities and where he is placing his bets on which topics and what strategies will be most essential as we move into the workplace of 2020 and beyond. Such great stuff and if you're like me and you can't wait that long or if you just want to see the visuals that go along with this presentation, I will leave a link for you in the show notes that will take you to the full download of our webinar and it includes that slideshow with the audio you are hearing on this podcast.

            So check that out or tune in again next week. Either way, I want to thank you for listening today and for your interest in this topic. It is certainly an exciting time to be working in the world of FM, real estate and the workplace and I hope you will continue to join me on our journey here each and every week as we encourage 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.