The Role of FaaS in the Changing CRE Landscape

By: Melanie Jones, CORT Workplace Business Development Executive

We are in the middle of big change in commercial real estate (CRE).  

Tenant demands are evolving, and fast. Many want, and in some cases demand, convenience. The CRE tenant still wants space, design, furniture, and data on the usage of that space, but they expect these things served up as a new type of package. That package, by the way, needs to be fast, flexible, changeable and of course, easy. These environments are very different from established norms. 

At the same time, innovators in commercial real estate must figure out how to provide for their clients’ changing needs. From my perspective, we are still in the evolution stage, though expectations have slowly been gaining momentum. We increasingly see terms such as Space as a Service (Saas), Furniture as a Service(FaaS), Flex Space, Office On Demand, Furniture on Demand etc., circling around workplace conversations. But how do these new buzzwords translate into real-world action?

Changing Expectations Lead to a Demand for Services over Products 

In a nutshell, expectations today are moving away from a preference for products, and toward a preference for services. Tenants want what they want, and they want it in a nice neat service or subscription package so they can just “get their job done.” 

Underlying this shift is a growing demand for energized activity-based work environments that allow for collaboration, thinking and – ultimately – comfort. Research has proven that collaborative environments absolutely do increase innovation, productivity, and greatly help companies recruit and retain talent. 

Additionally, the rise of new technology now allows many of us can to work from anywhere in the world. As such, creating an environment that draws the employee in is more important than ever. On top of this is the frenzied reality that new players are creating shared flex space at an unprecedented pace worldwide, and tradition is being rocked to the core. 

These evolving requirements present both a challenge and an opportunity for building ownership, and throughout the CRE industry. The reality of a changing landscape is a huge topic of conversation, and determining how and where you can bring value in the middle of change is at the top of everyone’s mind. In an effort to share relevant information, let me continue from the perspective of FaaS. 

Furniture-as-a-Service Meets the Changing Needs of the Workplace 

Now, who is responsible for adapting to these changes in tenant demands? Is it the developer or owner’s responsibility? Or perhaps there is a third-party provider you may not have considered.  

Enter CORT and its Furniture-as-a-Service
⁠— model. CORT is one of many partners available to help developers and owners in the CRE space create the workplace environments their tenants seek. A few potential partners that can benefit from the FaaS model include: 

  • Building Owners 
  • Asset Managers 
  • Landlord Groups 
  • A&D Firms 
  • Facilities, CRE & Operations Teams 
  • Tech Early Stage Firms 

As one example of how Furniture as a Service is adding value in the midst of the changing CRE landscape, meet Post-Office Cowork. In short, Post-Office was created by a team of marketing technologists who decided they didn’t need to work 9 to 5 in a traditional office, so they moved out. After a year of being digital nomads, they started Post-Office Cowork.  

As a start-up they elected to work with CORT, and that collaboration led to the development of a pop-up model that allowed Post-Office to provide building owners with a shared revenue opportunity. Post-Office, working with CORT, was able to offer a flashy coworking space, upscale coffee bar, and boutique food to other digital nomads. The concept was unique in that it could be moved and changed based on demand, and created the activity-based environments that tenants required.  

Then, after around two years in business, the Post-Office team decided to move on to other ventures. The team was able to easily transition out of the coworking business model because they had not invested heavily in furniture purchases. Instead, CORT simply picked up the furniture Post-Office no longer needed, and the team were off on their next start-up adventure. 

This is a perfect example of how a clever, entrepreneurial approach can add value to building owners. Post-Office offered a solution to building owners who needed help capitalizing on empty space, allowing the business owner to stay competitive with flex space.  

The list of innovations and thought leadership available to the commercial real estate community, and end-users alike, is vast. Enjoy the exploration. We truly are making a dent in the universe!  

Melanie Jones is an industry leader on the CORT Workplace team and specializes in helping commercial real estate teams leverage the benefits of the subscription approach available through CORT’s Furniture as a Service model.