Life Hacks for the Modern Traveller

September 1, 2015 Leave a comment

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How To Stay Focused in a Digital World

Anxiety about unopened or unanswered email, too much time devoted to social media, and uncontrollable urges to check smartphones and tablets for email, posts, and texts 24/7 are among the multiple distractions of a digital world.

Never have so many ways to communicate been available, and never has so much discipline been needed to appropriately manage them. Day in and day out, CCIMs and other commercial real estate professionals face this conundrum: What’s the best way to stay focused and free of digital distractions?

“Figure out what you need to spend your time on each day,” says Julie Morgenstern, productivity and time management expert and author of Never Check Email in the Morning. “What concentrated work do you need to accomplish today? Who do you need to talk to face to face? What are the non-email, non-text items in your day? Carve out time to allow those things to be done.”

Overcoming Distractions

Multitasking is a myth. You can’t look at a text on your smartphone and give your client your undivided attention at the same time. But as communication methods and the tasks associated with them multiply, CCIM practitioners have learned to recognize which approach works best for them.

“I get something done in a shorter time if I stay the course with it,” says Warren Klutz, CCIM, MAI, president of Warren Klutz and Co., in Bristol, Tenn.

Andrew Cheney, CCIM, has created five steps to manage digital interruptions. His steps include knowing that he cannot be everywhere at once, setting up a home office identical to his work office, and turning off the automatic alert on his email.

“In commercial real estate, you need both the quiet focus time and the energizing bullpen exposure,” says Cheney, a principal at Lee & Associates in Phoenix. “I make development calls from home first thing in the morning where I can focus without the distraction of the open, collaborative office.”

Building Relationships

Determining the best communication method for the task is another hallmark of staying focused. Howard Meier, CCIM, MRICS, believes commercial real estate is a relationship-based business and schedules regular meetings even with long-time clients.

“You need to get in front of the client or prospect as soon as you can to build the relationship and trust,” says Meier, a broker at Bexhill Real Estate Brokerage in Toronto. “Technology is a follow up to a face-to-face meeting. Email is not an opportunity to expand the relationship.”

Soozi Jones Walker, CCIM, president of Commercial Executives Real Estate Services in Las Vegas, concurs and adds, “Technology is a great way to disseminate information, but it’s not a great way to communicate. If you want to communicate, talk to the person. The tonality of your voice and your body language say much more than the words typed on a screen ever could. We have forgotten the power gestures, facial expressions, and vocal inflections have on people.”

On the other hand, Aaron Barnard, CCIM, SIOR, adjusts his approach to the different circumstances of his clients and prospects. “You have to be very flexible in commercial real estate and adapt to your clients’ preferences,” says Barnard, senior director at Cushman & Wakefield/Northmarq in Minneapolis. Since one of his best clients is always in flight, their conversations are conducted through email.

Cultivating the Best Habits

Effective habits build momentum in business. One of Jones Walker’s habits is to capture her emails and text messages in reports, so she has a paper trail in case of any questions.

“Technology can be your friend or your enemy when it comes to contractual conflicts,” says Jones Walker. “When I write an email or text, I imagine how I would feel if a judge or jury saw what I wrote. If I’m upset, I don’t hit send. I come back later and re-read it. Nine times out of 10, I never send it at all.”

Continuous learning is a mindset and a habit, according to 2015 CCIM President Mark Macek, CCIM. He seeks to leverage technology and integrate it into his business practice to create more value for his clients.

Maintaining Balance

Jones Walker has literally unplugged online books from her iPad and reads actual books at night. “When I read books online, I found that I was waking up in the middle of night and answering emails,” she says.

Cheney turns off his smartphone at night and on Saturdays when it’s time for his family and friends. “When I work out or hike, I don’t bring the phone,” he says. “At some point, whoever you’re with, you want to be present with that person, even if it’s yourself. I have developed the will power to put technology away.”

While discipline is essential to using technology appropriately, technology continues to rapidly change professional and personal lives.

Since Macek Cos. covers a wide geographic area, the firm moved to a cloud-based customer relationship management system, file storage system, and Office 365. Now Macek and his employees can easily gain access to all information they need wherever they are — at home, on the road, or at a conference halfway around the globe.

“We push people to be powerful and knowledgeable users of our main programs,” says Macek, president at Macek Cos. in Great Falls, Mont. “We work at selecting the best technologies and become power users.”

Video conferencing has changed how quickly commercial real estate professionals and their clients can view and evaluate properties together. “I load video tours on my iPad to show clients real-time information in meetings,” Cheney says.

Through various software programs and online research, Barnard can gather demographics, aerial photos, video tours, and analyses together quickly to create investment packages for his clients.

Like many CCIMs, time management expert Morgenstern observes that society is moving toward the tipping point of realizing technology cannot be the only way people communicate.

“I cannot live on a screen; it feels like a diet of cotton candy, and I need vegetables,” Morgenstern says. “Almost all of us are craving the nutrition of undivided attention, and I see people of all ages — from college students to older people — balancing the need for technology and the need for human contact.”

CCIMs already have the tools and the skills to make their businesses successful. They need to follow the right balance of human touch and technology without one or the other tipping the scale into unproductive distractions.

The story originally appeared on the CCIM website.


About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at or 208.322.7300.



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Business Etiquette Around the World

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Getting The Best Data For Optimal Decision-Making

Few words have become bigger in the business world than data, and few companies are better known for “all things data” than search engine giant Google, which has produced two dramatic quotes about data-driven decision-making — from its CEO, “Every two days we now create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003,” and from its chief economist, “Data are widely available; what is scarce is the ability to extract wisdom from them.”

From site selection to facility planning, industrial business expansion executives are quite aware of data’s value to their objectives, but how do they get the best data for optimal decision-making that produces the best results?

Data Must Be Trusted

Since businesses are so inundated with, and have access to, virtually unlimited data, executives must have data they can trust or that mountain of information is essentially useless. Data must be reliable by being rich enough that all the facts are there to be analyzed. A key problem occurs when executives or middle management have data and make decisions based upon a universe they inaccurately believe is a complete data set.

Not knowing that they often only have an incomplete data set and with outliers they do not recognize, the outcome tends to be skewed. Consequently, having a rich data set (a full data set), having data that can be trusted, and having it readily available in such a way that analytics can be conducted are all critical. Conversely, having too much data instead of too little, causes a potential “data home run” to figuratively get lost in the noise.

To the surprise of many who hold the opinion that simply having tons of data is actually the ultimate solution, too much data is proving to be the larger problem. Or, as a real estate expert says, “It really is the difference between data and information — being able to take all that data that’s being collected so efficiently and stored, then turning it into the kind of information that delivers the best decisions. Focus on the analytics you need for problem-solving and let the ‘noise’ fall away.” Otherwise, not finding the necessary pieces is as bad as not having them.

Actual Examples

As expansion/relocation executives know, certain dominant factors play into decision-making about facilities, with economics such as tax incentives being very important. Yet a market’s talent pool, which can sway site decisions, was pivotal in a major insurance company’s search about where to locate a new call center.

Several potential sites met all the criteria except for a couple of the markets not having a sufficiently deep talent pool for the call center’s expected growth. The unemployment rates were too low, and the cost of labor would be too high because there would be too much competition. So, the site selectors conducted analytics on a data layer that provided them information about locations with a ready, qualified labor pool but where the cost of labor was low, and they made a successful decision based on the results.

A major online florist’s business/strategic planning group decided to build a new location next to a shipping company’s major hub. With a business product that does not work well when encountering shipping delays, the florist’s standard approach revolves around ready access to shipping hubs “…because we can basically walk across the street and hand the box off, which quickly puts it on a plane with no long delays.” In addition to the obvious adjacent location appeal, florist executives backed up their decision with market analytics.

Looking at data from another perspective, a multinational communications and information technology company was creating a seamless network with another multinational conglomerate. At the outset, questions abounded at each company: “How many work in our networking group that we’ll spin off — and where are they located? How much of our space is dedicated to the network’s business?”

Because the lead company had the most robust data, including real estate, financial, and HR, within a couple of hours of the announcement the real estate group took decisive action. It was able to identify 30,000 people and approximately 10 million square meters of space that would be shifting from one company to the other. Although the conglomerate had similar data, it was scattered across too many disparate systems. That would have forced them to spend months and months looking up data, pulling it together, and doing analytics.

More About Sites And Expansions

When executives are doing analytics on potential locations, it’s not only about costs of building and maintaining a facility, but many other pieces. Besides the talent pool, is it near mass transit? What are all the critical data layers to be evaluated? With geographic information systems (GIS) available for data sets, this tool has become a significant factor in location analysis.

Using GIS, today’s facility scenarios tend to begin with determining which locations may be a good fit based on internal data from the company’s own operations, requirements, staff, and projections. Next is the challenge of merging that data into the wealth of data on the market about demographics and other key factors to make logical decisions, and that can be overlaid on geopolitical considerations. It’s all ideally based on a game plan of best covering a business’ operational parameters so that decision-makers have a richer data set than strictly real estate.

Heavy-industry assembly plant facility issues revolve around big data, with long lead-times a prominent feature. One such company, which gets its global plan from the business line, was planning millions of additional square feet for the manufacture of a pending new product. Data sets — e.g., for electric, steam, and pressurized air, as well as underground requirements — were critical well in advance of build out on an existing industrial site or the viability of a completely new plant.

Complicating the analysis was that the group working with the business side was not the group that would handle construction. So, different analytics had to be generated in order to keep the budgeting error gap between the different groups as low as possible. Typically, at large corporations such as this, the finance group is always involved, from the cost of materials and services to tax breaks, all feeding on data sets.

Looking Ahead

A major turning point for real estate professionals, which is still evolving depending on the industry, was their no longer being reactionary maintenance people, with spreadsheets included in that role as well. Instead it has become necessary for them to “have a seat at the decision-making table.” And to be a strategist requires having access to data well beyond how many work orders were closed.

A recurring theme in today’s facility relocation or expansion is the necessity of understanding how data adds value to the corporate mission and how corporate real estate organizations optimize their portfolios to ensure good decisions are being made. Data is more than raw facts and figures; it is an asset that embodies critical information that goes beyond operational efficiencies. Having that information upfront will not make the corporate decision, but it will certainly help determine the decision’s soundness, including the return on investment (ROI).

The story originally appeared on the Area Development website.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at or 208.322.7300.



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The Importance of Phone Calls in the Customer Journey

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Tech’s Influence on the Workplace

It’s tempting to generalize workplaces in the tech sector as amenity-rich, open-plan spaces filled with Millennials collaborating. Although there are plenty of workplaces that support this generalization, tech workplaces offer numerous lessons that can benefit other sectors. Beyond space and programmatic considerations, four tenets highlight today’s tech workplaces: strength of story, design empathy, technology presence, and hackerspace.

Strength of story = quality of experience

Purposeful connection to a memorable workplace can no longer be quantified by offering perks through amenities.  The experience of first impression, a surprise/”wow” factor, and how the story unfolds with meaningful spaces are ultimately the lasting experience that differentiate a place where people want to thrive from a typical workplace.  This goes beyond the company’s brand, and is of utmost importance given the strong market pressures on recruitment and retention.  We ask WHAT stories a company wants to share, whether it’s for new recruits, clients/customers, partners, colleagues, or even friends and family.  Spaces need to be designed to be interwoven with these stories.

Every company has examples.  There’s always lore about how the company is founded, defined or strengthened.  From the founders coming from Wall Street to Main Street with a cause, or an idea budding out of helping others, or a team retreat at the zoo, or a night of bar-hopping ending with a mutual phrase and bond, these stories are passed down from each generation of staff. Often times these stories are told through casual tours, and broadcasted through social networks.  A quick Tweet or Instagram announcement leads to even broader exchanges that feed into the pride and uniqueness of place.  These authentic stories connect us and inform the cultural pulse and soul of the inhabited space.

Design empathy – building a meaningful experience of place counts!

We hear more and more from tech companies that employees are seeking positions that go beyond compensation and benefits.  Alignment of core values and purpose between the individual and the company are paramount given the increasingly blurred line between our personal and professional selves. With clients seeking designs that are empathetic to their staff, we’re seeing more personalized workplaces that go beyond functionality and efficiency.

Best practices include:

  • Focus on basic convenience needs like access to electrical power wherever you need it – not when.
  • Design for the senses by enhancing lighting, aroma, and audio. This includes introducing lighting conditions that are space-specific, controllable, and that contribute to character of space.
  • Introduce non-invasive creative breaks, such as visual interest features at various distances that allow eyes to look away from screen, relax, and re-focus.
  • Appropriately scaled places to stretch out so the body is not locked and stationary.
  • Pet-friendly environment that encourages social interaction and stress relief.
  • Calming areas for recharge such as nap rooms, meditation rooms, and outdoor space, as well as services like massage programs.
  • Creating spaces that go beyond work activities and are inclusive of flexible social uses. This can include spaces for both large industry events and intimate team gatherings, or individual sanctuaries that allow a person to escape the assigned workstation.  These multi-functional spaces are fluid and programmed to adapt with changing needs throughout a given day.

Technology omnipresence

Individual mobility has now been established and well defined in this sector. Laptops and smartphones are default tools, so certain work functions and interaction can ideally be anywhere and anytime.  Within the workplace, the drive now is for the environment to be automated, to understand individual and group needs, whether for a presentation, training, or collaboration.  This is an extension of the Internet of Things, where data can be collected to improve and anticipate future needs. Think the Quantified Self – but for workplace. For now this is most relevant to facility and workplace planners, where having solid data to right-size the environment directly saves cost on maintenance and construction.  The next step is for the same data set to influence the flexibility of space and environment.  For instance, understanding the best design solutions to address inherent conflicts in an open office – the introvert/extrovert dialog, visual/acoustical disruptions, tailoring the plethora of collaboration solutions to fit the users, and finding adaptable methods within construction and furniture solutions that define workspace. Though this trend is more commonplace in the tech industry, it is making its way into all workplaces as companies seek to better inform their decisions about space.


The pressure of tech spaces to perform and evolve parallels the speed of change in the tech sector.  Shorter leases and subleases are frequently signed to address the low vacancy rate in a booming market, the unpredictability of growth and the uncertainty of the business model.  Three-year leases or subleases from past tenants that have outgrown the space are common.

We see an increase in designing spaces with the expectation they will change within a year or two of moving in.  In most cases, it’s not a symptom of poor planning, but rather, the speed gap between the tech evolution versus our own design, manufacturing and construction industry.  Decisions made eight months ago during programming and design may not be applicable at first day of business.

With these pressure points, the need for spaces to be inherently hackable are both desired and often required—and with the pace of business speeding up in all industries, this situation isn’t relegated to the tech world.  How can design adapt and be customized to an individual, group, or organization’s needs?  And address it in a way that’s fast, invisible and intuitive?  These ephemeral parameters lead to solutions that are hacked from multiple disparate resources, such as residential retailers, bespoke shops, and local makers.

So what’s next?

We are frequently asked to forecast and pick a handful of trends as prescriptive solutions.  Often these prescriptions discount design value and objectify design to commodities that can be bought off the shelf.  We see companies associated with the tech sector trying to do this.  For instance, furniture manufacturers are strategically changing their marketing from products supporting work functions (i.e. workstations and collaboration solutions) to inclusive built environments that support individual and group dynamics (i.e. designs addressing introvert/extrovert).  The increased emphasis on ancillary furniture are examples of this, too; it’s an extension of creating workplaces that evoke home and hospitality.

That the tech sector catalyzes workplace trends is a testament to its anthropologic tendency to create responsive, empathetic designs.  Because of the multiple convergences of culture and demographics, coupled by the speed of evolution and risky business model of constantly seeking out unrealized solutions, design solutions cannot be quantified.  Our design solutions are increasingly qualitative – calling on our creative talents to understand our clients beyond their brand, and adapting our processes to create an environment that offers them purpose and value.

The story originally appeared on the Perkins + Will website.


About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at or 208.322.7300.



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Global Burgers

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