Greater KC Chamber of Commerce Panel: Future of Workspace Post-Pandemic

Over the last year Covid-19 has had a tremendous impact on office space and real estate development. With businesses shifting to remote work and becoming increasingly adaptable to a variety of work situations, many companies are re-evaluating where and how their associates work long-term. 

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce reconvened their national panel of real estate and workplace design experts to discuss some of the opportunities and challenges companies face as they plan for the future of office space post-pandemic. 

Mathew McFadden, Executive Managing Director and Principal with Newmark Zimmer, moderated the panel, which featured:
Jason Larry: Vice President, Global Real Estate with Mondelez International
Roy Abernathy: Executive Vice President of Global Workplace Strategy & Human Experience with Newmark
Erika Moody: Principal, Interior Designer with Helix Architecture + Design
Koo MacQueen: Director of Real Estate-Americas with Honeywell

You can view the full presentation here:

In addition to sharing their insights on the impact of Covid-19 on the workplace, Jason Larry with Mondelez International and Koo McQueen with Honeywell shared their first-hand experiences relocating their headquarters in the midst of the pandemic.

“The purpose of the office had already been evolving pre-pandemic. It was evolving away from a place where you needed to be to get work done and towards a place that people want to be to connect… If you are with me on the purpose of the office changing away from being a place where you need to go to get work done and towards a place where you want to connect, then the priority of space given in the office has to shift away from heads down, individual assigned desks and offices, towards prioritizing your space on a variety of connection and collaboration settings.”

— Jason Larry, Vice President, Global Real Estate

“The workplace is being challenged to do more. The experience in the office is one that needs to draw people in and is really more of a concierge space type of experience. The amenities and elements within the office are going to be of a higher class that really draws the employees in.”

— Koo MacQueen, Director of Real Estate-Americas

Roy Abernathy with Newmark shared how the pandemic has affected office real estate globally and nationally, results from a recent survey of corporate leaders across the US and tips for navigating this next stage.

“81% of the leaders we surveyed across the US said that they would need to implement a new workplace strategy. Now that does not mean tear everything down architecturally and build it back but it does mean really thinking about work and how work gets done.”

— Roy Abernathy, Executive Vice President of Global Workplace Strategy & Human Experience

Erika Moody with Helix Architecture + Design shared how this translates into the quality of space and types of spaces that companies will need to offer to attract and retain top talent in their field. In particular the importance of wellness, flexibility and creating a destination that employees will be excited to return to.

“This is going to be a bit of an experiment moving forward and companies need to embrace that. We have several clients getting out on the forefront right now and looking at spaces that they are treating as test labs…where they can bring people back safely, test out different furniture layouts, technologies, zoom rooms, spaces where they can have a hybrid experience – people working from home and the office together collectively. They’re also recognizing that they might not get it 100% right, right out of the gate.”

— Erika Moody, Principal, Interior Designer with Helix Architecture + Design

Thank you president / CEO Joe Reardon and the Real Estate Committee of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce for organizing this event and continually elevating the conversation around workplace design within the Kansas City community.