The company has been re-examining the best use and layout of its more than 700 offices to maximize effectiveness and allocate savings.

If you’d like to catch a video replay of this Connect Now session, and access the other 25+ hours of video content from Connect Now, tickets are still available. Click here to access.

While COVID-19 has many companies rethinking their office real estate, Coldwell Banker was already in the process of re-examining its own physical spaces when the pandemic hit. Ryan Gorman, the CEO of Coldwell Banker, is working to maximize the effectiveness of the more than 700 offices of the company-owned Coldwell Banker brokerage, as well as allocate the savings.

Gorman said at Inman Connect Now on Thursday that he focuses on a few phrases to find out the best way to maximize offices spaces, the first of which is: “What is the intention of the space itself?”

“The space needs to do work,” Gorman said. “It’s not just there, it’s part of our value proposition.”

“You should never need to come to the office — you should want to come to the office for coaching, collaboration, connection, community and culture, and to do your solo work but mostly to do your collaborative and connective work.”

The other key phrase he focuses on is: “Less rent and more happy hours.”

Coldwell Banker offices, Gorman explained, are often shrinking in terms of square footage — hence the “less rent” — but the company is investing more in the community and culture aspect of the office’s functionality.

There’s a need to strike the right balance between the two. Too much lounge space can encroach on the work area, but there needs to be enough space to host events like a dog adoption drive, or a Parent-Teacher Association meeting, Gorman explained.

A lot of the new Coldwell Banker offices use the “hot desk,” set up, where anyone affiliated with the company can pop into any Coldwell Banker office and get a desk, rather than desks being reserved for specific agents.

Gorman doesn’t believe the real estate industry is set to go full remote, the way some other industries and offices have hinted, due to the pandemic.

“That’s not really how we’re geared as human beings,” Gorman said. “We are a gregarious group in real estate, we like to get together.” 

Another benefit of the hybrid office is that it allows more participation in events that real estate agents typically might miss. An office meeting, for example, is now broadcast and recorded on-demand for agents to access at Coldwell Banker.  It’s also automatically transcribed, so agents can search for specific things. The meetings have roughly the same in-person attendance, but now are open to all.  

A lesson Coldwell Banker learned in the last recession was to sign more short-term leases, which is allowing them the flexibility to re-imagine all of their office spaces in the next three years, according to Gorman.

“As each lease comes up, we actively decide whether we’re going to keep the layout as it is, or we’re going to work with the landlord to try and retrofit that into more of what is needed for the moment,” Gorman said. “That’s given us a really good forcing mechanism for constantly refreshing and staying current.”

With less rent and smaller spaces obviously comes savings and lower overhead, but that’s money that Coldwell Banker is re-investing in a few areas, namely, according to Gorman, more support, better software, alleviating upward pressure from rising splits, and, in keeping with the happy hour theme, sangria.

If you’d like to catch a video replay of this Connect Now session, and access the other 25+ hours of video content from Connect Now, tickets are still available. Click here to access.

Email Patrick Kearns

If you’d like to catch a video replay of this Connect Now session, and access the other 25+ hours of video content from Connect Now, tickets are still available. Click here to access.

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