People and Spaces

The Flight to Experience: Delivering the right space, place and program

March 14, 2024

By Sam Raymond, VP, North America, Desana

Last week we hosted an IRL event with Raise Commercial Real Estate and Convene at Convene’s incredible Stockton workspace for a panel discussion on the 'Flight to Experience', with leading industry experts.

Richard Duff, AIA, Head of Portfolio Strategy at Raise moderated a panel that included our CEO and Co-Founder Michael Cockburn, Brian Holland, Head of Real Estate at Convene, and Lara Owen, FMP, SFP, VP, Workplace Experience at NetApp.

The day presented an incredible turnout and prompted some really spirited discussion from both our panel and attendees. Everyone agreed that for distributed teams, in-real-life moments are essential to a range of outputs (retention, employee net promoter score, new employee ramp time, business outputs).

Further, everyone agrees that a successful IRL rests on the right space, in the right place, with the right agenda. 

Here’s a deeper dive on some key details:

The Right Space

During the event, we also took polls amongst attendees on the flight-to-experience. When asked what workplace amenities are most important in the context of enhancing IRL experiences, 45% valued cross-collaboration workshops most of all, followed by offsite retreats at 29%.

Credit: Raise Commercial Real Estate

With so many teams working remotely or in a hybrid model, dedicated spaces for in-person events and collaboration have rocketed in demand, however, with costs of capital remaining high, many workplace and real estate teams are forced to look externally for “the right space”.

Brian from Convene confirmed robust growth of events for a range of purposes, ranging from immersive workshops and team building activities, up to large corporate events. For example, the largest room at 100 Stockton holds 600 people.

In the Right Place

Bringing functional partners together is more important than ever, and the panel identified two key trends. First, the use of headquarter buildings as “onsite event” landing pads, and second, the rise of “onsites” in non-traditional locations that are both cost effective and conveniently located for team-members. Desana have seen event requests in markets like Mexico City, Breda (Netherlands), Milan and Sydney. 

Many of these events fall into a gray area where they are too small for traditional events companies to manage, but too large for a regular meeting space. This missing middle is why Desana recently launched Desana Events, an intuitive platform for easily booking inspiring event venues from our global network of spaces. This breadth gives occupiers a greatly expanded opportunity to find the right space in the right place. 

Learn how Desana Events can help your distributed team thrive and book a demo today.

With the right agenda

All that said, securing the right space in the right place is only table stakes in comparison to getting the agenda right. These events will only have a positive impact on the business when executed with an agenda that is well constructed to both please attendees and produce business results. It's important to ensure you have event owners who have the experience, tools and high level support to deliver a good business event

Lara Owens of NetApp made the point that designing a good agenda for a positive business outcome takes expertise and is best done with support of a centralized workplace function within the business. This is a point echoed by another Desana client, Courtney O’Halloran of Elastic, during our recent webinar on building IRL connection.

From the audience, Brian Elliot reiterated the importance of the team level agreements (TLAs) that set clear expectations around purpose, outcomes and responsibilities. With TLAs, you get built-in group support for company events. He recently wrote a great article on TLAs which you should check out.

Here are a few resources that can be helpful when training managers to run meaningful off site meetings. 

Desana also has a slew of regional consulting partners who can help build bespoke offsite agendas. We’re always happy to connect you if you’re looking for support in making sure your event has an impact.

Meeting the demand for experience

With great experiences more important than ever for engaged teams, accessing high quality space, in the right place, with the right programming and amenities is paramount. It’s why Desana recently launched Desana Events, a single platform for booking inspiring event venues across our global network.