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Episode 84

Defining Your Workplace - Trends for 2020 and Beyond (Part 2)

with Brendan Robinson of Under Armour

This is Part 2 of the webinar discussion between Mike Petrusky & Brendan Robinson. Brendan 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 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!

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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:

Brendan Robinson:

I'm just excited to get to work. There's been a lot of talk, a lot of promise of technology, and I want to put it to use. And some things are going to work, some things are not, but I'm excited to learn those lessons, roll up my sleeves, and do the work.

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.

            Welcome back everybody, and thanks for listening to the Workplace Innovator Podcast. I am your host, Mike Petrusky, and as always, I'm really glad you are here. It's episode 84 of the show, and this week we will feature part two of my discussion with Brendan Robinson of Under Armour. So, if you missed part one, please go back and check out episode 83 of this very podcast.

            Last month, I took a trip up to Baltimore to visit the global headquarters of Under Armour, where Brendan hosted me for a fantastic iOFFICE webinar broadcast. It generated a ton of interest, and I knew that you would get a lot out of it. So, let's pick things back up from last week's podcast, where I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger. During our webinar intermission I was asking Brendan about his favorite bands from the 1990s, and he was about to reveal the answer, and then we were about to do some really bad singing, webinar karaoke style. Of course. So, here we go.

            Today's category: 1990s rock music, and the answer, Brendan, for you is: this is Brendan's favorite '90s band. Any idea of what the possibilities could be here?

Brendan Robinson:

Oh, there's so many good '90s bands, 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? (Singing) Do you have the time to listen to me whine. A little Weezer? What's that song? (Singing) Hip hip. Hip hip. That's Weezer.

Brendan Robinson:

Island in the Sun.

Mike Petrusky:

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

Brendan Robinson:

Yeah, Hootie's been touring, I just saw them a month ago and I think I was reminded of...

Mike Petrusky:

Awesome.

Brendan Robinson:

how much I loved them in college, so.

Mike Petrusky:

Let's do Hootie and the Blowfish! Webinar karaoke time. I'm not going to let you off the hook Brendan, let's do it. (Singing). what song is this? Hold my hand what was the other one?

Brendan Robinson:

Only Want to be with You.

Mike Petrusky:

That's right. (Singing) I only want to be with you. He had that deep voice. I only want to be with you.

            Fantastic.

Brendan Robinson:

Wonderful.

Mike Petrusky:

Well, let's get back to your presentation, but before you get into your bets, I want to hear what you're seeing in your visionary looking glass and see where you think things are going. But before we do, I'm sure the folks online would like to know a little bit more about how you handle the facility management role here at Under Armour. Can you give us just a quick overview?

Brendan Robinson:

Absolutely. So in the spirit of change, I've kind of taken a step back and thought about what fundamentally is changing about facility management and what do we do every day that we need to change? What are we measuring that's different? And so I came up with a little bit of a framework of how I'm positioning these things internally to our leadership. And how we think about FM typically is the maintenance we provide, the services, the monetary constraints that we have and tracking the finances of everything. And then we do change management.

Mike Petrusky:

Yeah.

Brendan Robinson:

We fix things that break, we move people around. It's a lot of moves, adds, changes, and projects that FMs come from. And so how do we reframe that in a way of outcomes? And that's reframing all those things. As far as asset stewardship, helping the company meet the mission and then building community within our organization.

Mike Petrusky:

I like that yeah.

Brendan Robinson:

Cause that's the strategic role that we really play with our workers is building community. And then on the asset side, it's that stewardship and all of those things are in service of the mission.

Mike Petrusky:

And when you said change management it was reminding me, this is part of what drives a company, corporate culture, communicating the values and mission. Do you feel you do that pretty well here at Under Armour?

Brendan Robinson:

I feel like we are very aligned on mission, vision, and values. One of the things I learned early on in my career, is you have to draw the lines. So when I came here, a lot of people, they knew their jobs, they made sure the bathroom had toilet paper, and if somebody asked them to do something, they went and did it. But as a leader, you have to draw the lines to back to the Muir phrase, we're hitched to everything else in the universe.

Mike Petrusky:

Right.

Brendan Robinson:

So everything that we do needs to be in service of the mission of our organization and the leader has to draw the lines for the things that people do every day and how they impact that organization. And so that's something I've worked really hard on as well too. And I think from this slide here, what's important is the bottom, the high performance building strategy. That's where the technology comes in. We're not doing any technology for technology's sake.

Mike Petrusky:

Mm okay.

Brendan Robinson:

The technology is in service of maintaining the facilities, building community or the company meeting, meeting its mission. And so if you want to make a technology investment, you have to frame it in that way of what are the outcomes going to be. And so that was the unlock for me.

Mike Petrusky:

Light bulb moment, right there. I love that.

Brendan Robinson:

Indeed.

Mike Petrusky:

Well, let's talk about it, your read on how things are going. We've got that, but what are your bets for the future?

Brendan Robinson:

Absolutely. So under, the worker desires, pleasing our workers in that vector, couple of things we're doing there. First is what I call eliminating the work order. And this is where it gets you anticipating needs.

Mike Petrusky:

Right.

Brendan Robinson:

We have sequences and they will grow to be algorithms that are partnered with analytics and ultimately someday, an artificial intelligence brain helping to guide and improve that. But what this is about is giving the buildings a voice, connecting equipment to our IWIMS system.

Mike Petrusky:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brendan Robinson:

So work orders can be opened automatically. And we are in the process of doing projects to connect those things now and should be rolling them out later this year. And what I've gone to our building engineers and management team with the challenge is to look through what should we be catching before our employees do? And let's define that and let's keep score. So employees should not be finding lights out before we do or broken equipment or high temperatures and all those environmental things that'll affect their work day. We need to find them first and let the employees know that something broke, but we're on it. And we're going to be coming soon rather than the other way around where, "I'm hot". Let's figure out why, oops, something's broken.

Mike Petrusky:

Right.

Brendan Robinson:

So we're flipping that on its head.

Mike Petrusky:

That's great. And we often talk in iOFFICE about the two sides of the same coin, the operation side and the employee side. And we talk about employee experience tools and the technologies available today. That with that foundation that you described of all that data and all that information, the employee can have this experience because of the tools available now that we didn't have just a few years ago. It's amazing. So that's really cool.

Brendan Robinson:

Absolutely. So the flip side of break fix, I think is, there's still preferences.

Mike Petrusky:

Yes.

Brendan Robinson:

And employees need to declare their preferences or ask for services that are on demand. And so that's where the employee self-help approach comes in. So we have a couple of different apps that we use where employees can engage with us. So we have the iOFFICE Hummingbird app. We also, we also have the comfy app, which allows people to take control of the VAV box and, and their own...

Mike Petrusky:

Oh right, right.

Brendan Robinson:

Temperature and other systems locally. And then we're currently working on an AI chat bot where people can ask for how to get things done. And then the chat bot will automate getting [crosstalk] those things done or ordering up those services for them. So that's an inflight project for us this year that we're super excited about.

Mike Petrusky:

Really cool, interesting stuff. Is that a boat?

Brendan Robinson:

Oh, that alarm going off is the crane on the sugar ship.

Mike Petrusky:

Okay.

Brendan Robinson:

So we're Under Armour's located right next to Domino's Sugar.

Mike Petrusky:

Yeah.

Brendan Robinson:

And there is a gigantic ship right next to us. That's unloading sugar. So sorry, the crane does...

Mike Petrusky:

There ya go.

Brendan Robinson:

Beep when it moves.

Mike Petrusky:

There's a sugar shipment coming through folks, my mouth is watering already.

Brendan Robinson:

All right.

Mike Petrusky:

What's next?

Brendan Robinson:

Climate change strategy. We are heavily involved in that. Involve sort of two main areas, which is reducing the amount of energy that we use. And of course, purchasing renewable energy to offset the energy we do use. And I think what we're trying to do is really give teammates, which is our employees, specific actions that they can do and giving them ownership of part of the energy savings. So more to come on that in the future. But we have a strong seat at the table on climate change strategy and energy procurement. So that's a big area of focus.

Mike Petrusky:

Empowering the employee to feel like they can contribute as well. I think that's the big...

Brendan Robinson:

Absolutely.

Mike Petrusky:

Challenge we all face. As we hear all the news, we see what's happening in the world and we're like, well, what can I do about it?

Brendan Robinson:

I think employees want to know that a company is great. It's, it's wonderful to say, Hey, I'm part of a good company just by showing up. I'm part of something great, but it's even better when you can give them specific things that are achievable that they can do and really have that sense of ownership.

Mike Petrusky:

Absolutely.

Brendan Robinson:

One of the biggest things for us from a facilities initiative is our healthy buildings strategy. Under Armour makes you better and our buildings should not make you worse.

Mike Petrusky:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brendan Robinson:

They should also make you better. And so this is incredibly on brand for us. And so our strategy kind of has three areas. One is to improve cognitive function and we do this through having the right light, the right temperature, and the right levels of CO2.

            There's some technology in there to make all that happen. We want to lower everyone's stress levels at work is the second piece. So acoustics, background music, a strong ergonomics program. I'm a PE industrial engineer. So ergonomics is near and dear to my heart. And then other things that you've heard about, of, biophilia and active design. So you saw on our tour, we have lots of stairs, lots of access to natural lights.

Mike Petrusky:

Sure.

Brendan Robinson:

And plants and those sorts of things. So that's really important.

Mike Petrusky:

Practicing what you preach. I love it.

Brendan Robinson:

Yep. And then the last part is the down and dirty, we want to eliminate health detractors. So dirt, yeah we have a dirt measurement program where we sample dirt.

Mike Petrusky:

Wow.

Brendan Robinson:

Quarterly. Pests, integrated pest management plan, getting rid of the wrong chemicals and our cleaning program. And then just water Legionella, safety, food safety programs, all the basics of just keeping the bad things...

Mike Petrusky:

Yeah.

Brendan Robinson:

Out of our employee's hands.

Mike Petrusky:

Definitely. It's a lot to manage, but the FM role never ends it sounds like.

Brendan Robinson:

Indeed. So we do have a teammate engagement program where we partner with corporate communications and human resources and IT to produce a spectrum of events that kind of go through, I'd say all of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Mike Petrusky:

Oh cool.

Brendan Robinson:

And so that's keeping our teammates engaged, retaining talent is a huge partnership. And I know you've talked a lot about that.

Mike Petrusky:

We have.

Brendan Robinson:

In previous webinars as well.

Mike Petrusky:

Good stuff. And aligning across departments, you've made that a priority as well.

Brendan Robinson:

Absolutely, absolutely. And so with our business outcomes, a big thing for Under Armour is digital transformation. Retailers are digitizing every aspect of design. So instead of designing something on paper, having it produced overseas, mailed over, back and forth, everything's going digital. And that's having a lot of impacts on our business from through the design process, into the sales process, you can imagine our customers, some of them, a big online retailer whose customers are going to make a purchase from a digital photo...

Mike Petrusky:

Yep.

Brendan Robinson:

They're less concerned with product. Others, want to touch and smell and feel products, a smaller retailer who has a very, super personal relationship with their customers. And we want to please all those folks. And so there's a lot of impacts to our sales process and to the facilities in which we sell. If you now need a six foot real size digital image of a product versus what was previously maybe a sample closet.

Mike Petrusky:

Interesting.

Brendan Robinson:

So we're working through a lot of that digital transformation. So that's great because as facilities, we're a strategic partner in a very impactful area for our business. And that's a great touch point for us.

Mike Petrusky:

Really cool.

Brendan Robinson:

To be, to really feel like we're having a positive impact on the company. And then campus experience is a big thing for us.

Mike Petrusky:

We're here.

Brendan Robinson:

When we get a visitor.

Mike Petrusky:

Yes.

Brendan Robinson:

Like DJ Mike comes [crosstalk] to campus and you want hear the experience. So you, you got the tour, you saw a photo shoot going on. You saw teammates out there working out and doing yoga class and...

Mike Petrusky:

Really cool stuff.

Brendan Robinson:

Background music and the energy and the sugar ships. So we want to have that.

Mike Petrusky:

I lost five pounds since I walked on campus, it's amazing.

Brendan Robinson:

We want to have that great vibe here for everyone, whether it's celebrities, teammates, business partners, even the public we're here and it's public access. We're part of a neighborhood. And we want to be great neighbors in our city of Baltimore. And so we have to create that experience every day. We have to get the basics right. Landscaping and cleaning...

Mike Petrusky:

Sure.

Brendan Robinson:

And maintenance and keeping the light bulbs on. And then also creating that vibe on campus and that's

Mike Petrusky:

And the harbor walls. You were telling me about need attention, all these different specialty needs.

Brendan Robinson:

Yeah. I joke that anything that's marine, the sort of like if you add wedding to the front of something, it doubles the cost. So if you're doing a marine construction, their maintenance in the water, it makes [crosstalk] it's expensive. So we have to take, be careful stewards of our waterfront assets, for sure.

Mike Petrusky:

It's beautiful. And it's a awesome experience as you've promised, if you have the chance, if you're in Baltimore, everybody stop by Under Armour headquarters. It's in an area of Baltimore I've never actually been, I'm usually just in and out of the city to see a ballgame or head to the inner Harbor, the touristy part of town. But this is the other side of the harbor.

Brendan Robinson:

Yeah we're staring at all that, but we're in Locus Point. It's a beautiful neighborhood in Southern Baltimore and the safest neighborhood in Baltimore.

Mike Petrusky:

People running around. It's a, that's awesome. We're a couple months, not even two months away from 2020, that magical year that we've talked about for a decade. You know, when you get to workplace 2020, or the future of the built environment, 2020, it seemed like such a long way off. But as these things go time flies and it's here. So as you head into the new year, head into the new decade, what are you most excited about?

Brendan Robinson:

I'm excited for all the things we're gunna break next year. So I talked a lot about the initiatives we have in flight. A lot of those are coming together and launching. So when we turn on, when we connect the building the iOFFICE and it opens 800 work orders...

Mike Petrusky:

There you go.

Brendan Robinson:

On January 1st, what are we going to do with that? How are we going to prioritize it? So really we spent a lot of time strategically planning, and I'm at the point where a lot of these bets are coming to reality. So I'm just excited to get to work. There's been a lot of talk, a lot of promise of technology, and I want to put it to use, and some things are going to work. Some things are not, but I'm excited to learn those lessons, roll up my sleeves and do the work.

Mike Petrusky:

Very cool. Well, Brendan, you've lived up to the Under Armour brand. Protect this house.

Brendan Robinson:

I will, I will.

Mike Petrusky:

The slogan that we all know and love. This has been fantastic. Thank you for being a part of this webinar.

Brendan Robinson:

Thank you for the opportunity. I appreciate it.

Mike Petrusky:

There, you have it, everyone. Brendan Robinson of Under Armour sharing his vision for the future of the workplace and offering some inspiration for all of us. As we hope to have an impact on our organizations going forward into the workplace 2020 and beyond. Awesome. Thanks so much to Brendan and thank you for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed these past two episodes as much as I did. And if so, please share with a friend about this podcast, send a link and an invitation to check out our library of past episodes. So many great guests, and I've learned so much, and I'm sure others could benefit from hearing these discussions as well as I hope this show is helping in some small way to give you the tools you need 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.