Brokerage

BHHS aims to define the real estate ‘office of the future’

One thing's clear: There's more than one way to skin the office cat

LAS VEGAS — DeAnn Golden, senior vice president and managing broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties, was nervous.

One day early last year, Golden’s boss called her into his office on a Friday afternoon and told her that the firm was closing one 11,000-square-foot office, which served approximately 50 agents on the outskirts of Atlanta. She had one week.

DeAnn Golden

DeAnn Golden

The process of shutting down that office, and not replacing it with another immediately, was daunting, but it was also an opportunity, Golden recalled on Monday during a panel at BHHS’ sales convention in Las Vegas titled “Office of the Future.”

Agents clamored for a new office in the same area and, after a few months, the firm listened by building two smaller offices to serve the same location with the idea of funneling less money into square footage and investing more into agent support services, Golden said.

BHHS Georgia Properties also took the opportunity to design the offices with a more vibrant feel to appeal to younger agents and consumers, Golden said.

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The firm pulled inspiration from a variety of sources, including hip, local restaurants. They feature high-top tables, “juice bars” where agents could plug in their various devices and, perhaps most radical of all and reflecting a possible trend, they have no individual offices.

The result? The two offices now serve approximately twice the number of agents as the old, single office, in less than half the combined square footage.

BHHS selected BHHS Georgia Properties and nine other affiliated firms with dynamic, forward-looking offices to help the brand tease out what elements go into a successful office, BHHS’ director of consulting services, Glenn Miller, told Inman.

In early 2016, BHHS will release the results of the “Office of the Future” study to give its affiliates a resource to study when thinking about giving their own offices a refresh, Miller said.

Independent brokerages are on the rise, but franchisors like BHHS are coming up with offerings, like this broker project, to demonstrate value. Franchise giant Realogy is also doubling down to prove its value to affiliates. It’s rolling out its new all-in-one tech platform, Zap, to its franchisees this year.

BHHS’ “Office of the Future” project will show more than one way to skin the office cat, that’s for sure.

Vince Leisey

Vince Leisey

Another panelist, Vince Leisey, a broker and coach with BHHS Ambassador Real Estate in Omaha, Nebraska, said his firm is building a new, massive 50,000-square-foot office space designed to appeal to agents of all persuasions: part-time agents, teams, top-producers.

Though their offices differed physically, Leisey and Golden both said that what makes them successful is how they embody the culture of their firms and reflect their specific office’s training and coaching philosophies.

By studying each of the 10 offices in the project while accounting for the differences in their markets, BHHS is trying to distill out the ingredients that go into a successful office including leadership, culture, training, the facility itself and more, Miller said.

Email Paul Hagey.