Written by Charlotte de Vaulx, September 26th, 2018
Last Wednesday, at IGEL’s recent Women in Sustainability Leadership Lunch Series event, one unassuming tucked-away Huntsman classroom suddenly filled to the brim with students and professionals eager to learn about workplace wellness design from CBRE’s Maureen Anastasi and Wells Fargo’s Linda Foggie.
As Senior Managing Director with CBRE’s Global Workplace Solutions, Maureen Anastasi assists clients with creative ways to unleash the value of real estate by fully leveraging the breadth of CBRE’s integrated service line at the world’s largest real estate services and investment firm, including real estate portfolio strategy consulting, advisory and transaction services, project management and facilities management services.
A licensed professional architect, Linda Foggie serves as the Vice President Project Management Leader at Wells Fargo, specializing in leadership and problem-solving in WELL building certification, strategic real estate analysis, lease negotiation, large-scale RFP strategy and management. Before coming to Wells Fargo in 2015, Foggie worked at CBRE with Anastasi as Director of Project Management in Global Corporate Services.
“Work is not somewhere you go, or what you do, it’s about the experience” –Maureen Anastasi
Particularly in today’s fast-paced world, we tout the importance of being fulfilled by our work and workplace experiences. To truly optimize our health and wellbeing however, we must also turn our gaze to workplace design and our built environment.Maureen attributes much of the wellness momentum to today’s multi-generational workforce, when people started asking “but what if..” and “what if we did more”?
“I got into real estate because I love buildings, I love spaces. I especially love how to incorporate wellness into spaces”- Maureen
CBRE has firmly embraced the workplace environmental wellness philosophy – boldly painting a new vision of what sustainable workplace environments could be. Begone, traditional assigned offices and workstations! CBRE has completely transitioned to tech-integrated and paperless offices with multiple workplace types designed from calculated employee usage patterns. The offices showcase a myriad of new features – plug-and-play workstations, sit-stand adjustable desks, cafes will full kitchens, ‘print from anywhere’ capabilities, lots of natural light, and even quiet rooms for mediation, all geared to better incorporate mental and physical health during the workday. The offices are designed from an activity-based work model such that everyone chooses their workspaces throughout the day and shifts when necessary. Different spaces could be used for checking emails, making client calls, and holding committee meetings. Though change can be tough, CBRE helped guide the employee transition gradually, and Maureen feels the results speak for themselves. Assessment performance statistics blew expectations out of the water; CBRE’s employee satisfaction and daily attendance rates have gone up significantly while CBRE’s environmental footprint has been reduced. Providing greater functionality and flexibility, the fresh designs are more engaging and serve to transform the workplace into a tool for increased productivity, communication, and office utilization. For Maureen, what stands out most is how the fresh work environments provide space for constant creativity.
“We spend over 90% of our time in buildings” – CBRE
The fact that we spend the majority of our lives indoors further underscores the impact our built environment has on our minds and bodies. At CBRE, the value of the business is clearly linked to its people. Thus, to aim for long-term business sustainability must include understanding and prioritizing what sustainability means for people.
The WELL Building Standard was created in an attempt to do just that. Based on years of scientific data-driven research, WELL sets and measures performance requirements in seven core concepts – air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. Unlike well-known certifications like LEED focusing on sustainability for the planet, WELL frames itself directly around sustainability for people, and the difference is tangible. After walking into a LEED building for the first time, Maureen immediately sensed that it felt fundamentally different.
While WELL fills in the gaps and shifts the perspective of many established building standards, the underlying momentum of the wellness movement has given Maureen and Linda new life.
“Wellness has totally invigorated me – it’s given me new life” – Maureen Anastasi
In sharing kernels of advice to becoming driven and successful leaders, Maureen and Linda similarly invigorated their young women-filled audience. Linda, a mentee of Maureen while at CBRE, reiterated the importance of building and forming strong mentor-mentee relationships. She notes, “people need to understand that you are asking them to be your mentor or sponsor”, as well as what exactly that distinction is; while a mentor advises and supports, a sponsor advocates. Moreover, a mentor-mentee relationship should be actively two-sided; “as a mentee, you have to ask what there is you can do for your mentor” as there’s much they can learn from you.
“Ultimately, it’s all about relationships in this business”– Linda
Beyond finding a mentor, Lisa knows that “it doesn’t just matter who you know, but who knows you,” Her sage advice? “Network, network, network. A lot of jobs are based off who you know,” Then, once your first job is secured, as per Carla Harris’ saying, “your currency is your competency”. Over the years however, Maureen found that as her competency increased, the value of that competency declined – relationships became much more important. To best maintain these relationships, Linda “ignores the golden rule about treating people the way [she] wants to be treated,” She adds – “Instead, I step back to learn exactly how they want to be treated.” Along this vein, if there were something she could tell her younger self, Linda would tell herself to “learn how to diffuse a situation, to learn how to step back and gain perspective on a situation”. As a final reflection, Maureen urged focusing on “the big rocks” by committing fully to big important milestones instead of getting scattered and spread thin doing too many things. There is immense fulfillment in working to build a legacy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charlotte de Vaulx is a rising senior from North Salem, New York, studying Operations at Wharton and pursuing a dual degree in Environmental Science in the College. First learning about sustainability in high school at the Island School in the Bahamas, Charlotte has since made it her mission to work towards creating more sustainable systems at the intersection of business, science, and technology. With a global focus, Charlotte is particularly invested in marine ecosystems and solving environmental and waste issues. As this year’s co-President of the environmental fraternity Epsilon Eta, Charlotte aims to bring together diverse perspectives of student leaders on campus and promote various environmental initiatives. A Wharton Passion Project fellow last spring with a project on 3D printing and biofabrication, Charlotte has also played for the UPenn Women’s Rugby team and been on the boards of Wharton Alliance and MUSE Social Impact Practice. For fun, she loves to settle down with a good podcast or book, go for a run outside, and explore new parts of Philly with friends.