EQ Office president talks company rebranding, embracing tech at recent conference

EQ Office President and CEO Lisa Picard recently discussed the news her company rebranded from Equity Office during a chat with Convene co-founder and CEO Ryan Simonetti recently.

Along with the name change, EQ Office plans to partner with flex space operators in order to make more efficient use of its office footprint, beginning with a partnership with Industrious at Los Angeles’ Howard Hughes Center.

Picard stated the company is looking to adjust to the changing times, the rapid changes in technology, its impact on lease terms, the tenant experience and how office owners conduct business. The status quo could no longer remain, according to Picard.

“Success is a horrible teacher,” she said. “We have assumptions we use in the industry that no longer serve us. The industry needs to unlearn things.”

During the discussion, Picard also noted business cycles in the current real estate environment are so short, they’re forcing business to commit to shorter lease terms. A lot of businesses can’t predict how big they will be two or three years in the future because of the technological changes taking place and the demands placed on their customers. A company’s size is a direct response to that end user demand—which parts of a company are growing or contracting, according to Picard.

“That makes it really hard for a company to sign a 10-year lease,” Picard said.

As businesses feel more pressure to maintain growth and simultaneously adapt to customer demand, a new product type, flexible office space has been created. As lease terms get shorter, owners have to readjust as the operations of real estate assets become as more important as investments.

EQ Office mimicked Amazon and did a complete review of the tenant experience—“an EKG” as Picard put it—and examined ways to remove tenants’ pain points during the leasing process. During the review, EQ Office’s found tenants’ experience was lowest during construction period.

“We’ve been asset and property focused because long-term lease commitments forced us to be bondholders,” Picard said. “And what do bondholders care about? Their collateral.”

Moving forward, EQ Office main drive is to be tenant-focused so it can focus on the quality of the asset and leverage technology and training to elevate the customer experience and the asset. Picard stated EQ Office would view technology as a supporting tool for its overarching design and build strategy. The company wants to have the ability to mold tech with its knowledge of what it and tenants want to achieve.

“We like to be first under the hood to shape how tech will be utilized.” She also noted she looks at companies like Convene as an inspiration for EQ Office in the future.

“This is the product type the market needs and quite frankly, the market didn’t know it needed it,” Picard said.

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