Throwing an employee birthday party, setting up a rooftop yoga session and meeting with the Bagel Club are all in a day’s work for Ben Leyva. A hospitality industry veteran, Ben does exciting work each day on behalf of Host, a suite of concierge-style products and services from CBRE that enhances the workplace through personalized experiences and an innovative mobile app.
The team of Hosts—each one a talented hospitality expert like Ben—works with companies across the globe to build in-office relationships and establish an atmosphere of joy and delight. Recently, CBRE tagged along with Ben to a Host client site in New York City to learn more about how he makes memorable moments happen each day.
Arrive at the office. I know today will be busy, so I use the Host app to order my morning coffee and arrive at the office a little early to give myself a head start.
Every morning, I spend the first 10 or 15 minutes of the day checking my email before doing a walkthrough of the company’s four floors to make sure everything is in order. I start small by making sure all the AV equipment and other conference room tech is working. I push in chairs, clean the dry-erase boards and touch up the blinds so the team can start their day in a functional, clean and comfortable space. In the hospitality world, we call this a “find it first” mentality—it’s all about anticipating needs and solving problems before anyone even notices them, like replacing burned-out lightbulbs or regulating the office temperature.
Stock the kitchen. Like the rest of the office, it’s important for the kitchen to be neat, presentable and stocked with a variety of food and drink options for the team. I check to see if all the usual products are in the fridge and pantry before brewing fresh pots of coffee.
I double-check the inventory to make sure it reflects the preferences of the team on that floor. For example, if one floor tends to drink diet soda over regular, their vending machines should have a variety of available diet options. Or if a team member asks whether or not we can get a specific brand of potato chips, I work with our vendors to make it happen for her.
I try to treat every office like a hotel. Each employee has different needs, which is why following up with people is so important. It’s about more than simply making sure they get their favorite kind of chips—it’s about taking care of each individual and showing them they can always rely on me to follow through.
Regroup for the day. Once employees have arrived and started their day, I meet with each floor’s admin staff to assist them with anything pressing, whether that’s setting up the AV for a conference call or helping new hires get settled at their desks. Each interaction is different—conversations can range from a quick hellos to longer, more comprehensive meetings.
Once the admins are in a good place, I head back to my desk to tackle my to-do list. Shortly after sitting down, I receive an email from an employee interested in setting up a flu clinic in the building. I jot down her information and use the Host app to contact the property manager to see if we have any available space.
Join the Bagel Club. Since I started at this office, my relationships with the 700+ employees have evolved a lot. I love the small wins, like when someone recognizes me or knows my name. Even better is when someone stops by my office because they heard I’m stocked with stain erasers, disinfectant wipes, razors and other items I keep in the toolkit at my desk.
But my favorite thing about my work has been playing a role in the company culture. Every Friday for the past 20 years, the employees at this office have met for Bagel Club; a different member of the club brings bagels to the office each week. A few weeks ago, I made a last-minute deli run for an employee who needed some extra cream cheese for the meeting. Today, the same employee came to my office and invited me to join the club. I’m now their newest member.
Set up for a birthday. Today, we’re celebrating September birthdays—I take this part of my job very seriously. Before I became the Host for this office, employees threw their own parties, but since they’re busy with other responsibilities, they didn’t have much time for party planning. As a result, office events suffered from lackluster decorations, questionable food choices and poor attendance. When I discovered this, I thought, “This would never fly at a hotel.”
Now, whether it’s a networking event, a meeting to host offsite employees or a birthday party, I go all out with decorations, cupcakes, streamers, balloons—anything that will make for a festive party. To accommodate any food allergies or dietary restrictions, I also make sure to label the food options so people know exactly what they’re eating. Today’s party featured double chocolate, vanilla and red velvet cupcakes.
Make a coffee run. After the birthday party, I use the Host app to pre-order coffee from the shop across the street for an upcoming meeting, and it’s waiting for me on the bar as I enter the shop. I do a lot of these food and beverage runs during the week to make life a little easier for everyone at the office. I want people to be able to show up to the office and focus on their work without having to worry about the minor details of their day.
Meeting time. This is an important client meeting that requires some extra preparation. In addition to getting coffee, I set up folders with meeting materials. Although I checked the monitor during my morning sweep, I double-check to make sure it’s working since the clients are calling in from Seattle. As the team trickles in, I help them connect to the video conferencing program with a few minutes to spare.
Enjoy a moment of solitude. Every day around this time, I return to my desk to answer emails, reach out to vendors and respond to employee requests. Since many employees are new to the area, I also do some research to find out what’s going on in the city each week. I’m putting together a list of places they can stop in for a quick lunch, as well as a rundown of which nearby bars have the best happy hours. I’ve also been cataloguing local restaurants and bakeries that cater or provide specific types of food, so I’m ready to go for any short-notice events.
After I finish up my emails, I spend some time connecting with other Hosts on the team in a quick daily huddle. This is our time to share ideas and advice, and make sure we’re all focused on our goals. It’s nice that we have a community that helps each other to do our best work each day.
Set up for yoga. A few months ago, an employee reached out and told me he was a certified yoga instructor, and that he’d love to teach a free class for his colleagues. I spoke to the building manager to find an appropriate space for the sessions, and we landed on a beautiful outdoor balcony area.
At the first session, only six employees showed up. But word got around, and now slots for the class are filling up fast, especially from those using the Host app to book a spot from their phones. In the app, I can see how many employees are signing up at a glance, so I’m now looking for a larger space to accommodate a growing interest in the class. I love the team’s enthusiasm for fitness—we even started a running club a few weeks back. As time goes on, I hope to continue using the Host app’s data to get a wider sense of our employees’ interests, so we can add to the growing list of after-work events.
Go home. Before I leave for the day, I make sure the desks on each floor are clean and organized. I place them all at the same height, check to see that they all have headsets, and look for any personal items that may have been left behind. I head for the elevator and call a friend—we’re meeting after work to check out one of the bars from my happy hour list!