Love in the Workplace

It’s not happening enough. We need more of it. Way more.

March 22, 2016

As CEO of the largest family-owned tenant-representation company in California, I’ve had the opportunity to observe thousands of different workplace offices over the past three decades. Our clients have included hundreds of law firms, life-science laboratories, technology start-ups, insurance firms, distribution centers, and a sampling of nearly every other industry on the planet. Top companies hire us to find and negotiate their corporate real estate, ensuring them the most cost-effective and beneficial occupancy possible. We do that very well. But final decisions are made by the clients. And while many companies get it right, it’s alarming how homogeneous and sterile a majority of the workplaces end up being for their respective teams.

Leading by Example

While I don’t consider myself an amazing leader, I do aspire to be one. As a result, I’m constantly reading and thinking about how to build a world-class company in an industry stuck in yesteryear, riddled with conflicts and bad habits. I was originally going to write about that.

But moments before I sat down to write this article, one of the top brokers at our firm sent me a video of a TED Talk by Simon Sinek titled, “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe.” Mr. Sinek’s premise was that good leaders put their team first – always. They make them feel safe – not just in the literal sense, but in a figurative sense too. They feed them first. Pay them first. Love them first. Good leaders are the first ones into danger and the last ones out. And as a result, their team gives their all for their leader. It’s a great video viewed nearly 4.4 million times. I think Mr. Sinek may be onto something.

The Starbucks Model

What made me feel especially good was that our broker said, “This [message] absolutely describes what you’ve created at Hughes Marino. Thank you.” Wow. Nearly blew me away. And certainly made me tear up. While I didn’t know it years ago, messages like that are what I live for. I figure that if this is how I am helping to make our team feel, then they are helping to make our clients feel the same. And that is powerful stuff. Even industry changing.

So you might be thinking, “Enough of the Kumbaya. What’s the point? And how the heck does this relate to real estate?”

The point is: love in the workplace is lacking. Many business leaders still believe love belongs at home. But more progressive leaders, like Howard Schultz of Starbucks, believe it’s the soul of a company. Having grown Starbucks from 6 to 22,519 stores in 35 years, thereby creating one of the most successful companies on the planet, I’d say he’s someone we should all listen to.

You see, details matter. Being “cheap” costs way more to a company than the actual expense. And it isn’t very indicative of a loving environment. Unfortunately, far too many decision makers focus on themselves rather than their team. Expenses rather than revenues. Sterile workspaces are built without love or soul. This exacerbates a struggling culture and inhibits the ability to thrive.

The Google Effect

Google has exemplified love in the workplace. They build their spaces to inspire their team, creating a place where team members look forward to spending time and working hard. A past article of mine discussed the hundreds of millions of dollars firms like Google, Apple, and Facebook are investing into their workspaces, using vast sums of data to support their investment, in order to amplify their corporate results. More business leaders should follow their lead. I have. Each of our locations is an example of some of the best office space you’ll find. We have top-of-the line furniture and equipment. Beautiful artwork. Amazing attention to detail. And it just so happens our team is top level too. Coincidence?

Google has exemplified love in the workplace. They build their spaces to inspire their team, creating a place where team members look forward to spending time and working hard.

While not every company can afford a beautiful office in a Class A building in a safe location, supported by fitness centers, gourmet restaurants, and pet walkers, every company can spend more time thinking about how to make their office as wonderful as possible. Does it need fresh paint? Do the carpets need to be cleaned? Is it time for new ergonomic furniture? How is the art?

It is important that business leaders elevate the importance of having a great workspace. Your team will be happier. Your business will do better. And the soul of your company will flourish.

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