Today, devices from smartphones to speakers use AI to help us schedule appointments, make phone calls, and get directions. While this technology is backed by comprehensive data and analytics, AI’s level of efficiency and accuracy is often improved with human touch; this tailored and thoughtful approach combined with AI better delivers on the user’s unique needs.

“We are at our best when we leverage both people and tech,” says Careena Otieno, marketing director at CBRE Host. A human-serviced, technology-enabled product suite, Host brings both concierge-style, on the floor service delivery and a mobile digital platform for employee self service to the workplace. What’s different? Host draws on CBRE’s global experience and deep workplace expertise to provide a personalized, accommodating office experience around what matters most in helping employees do great work.

Beyond office amenities

Many companies try to create value by providing their employees with state-of-the-art amenities, but “at a certain point, amenities can get stale or fall short,” says Christy Kingsbury, managing director of CBRE Host. “We don’t want organizations to be so tied to a specific amenity that it’s the only way they create delight or joy.”

Host is centered around the delivery of a variety of exceptional experiences for all of its customers; the team also prioritizes hyper-local delight, things like community events and rituals, tied to an organization’s specific mission, brand, and culture. All of these services are delivered through both the people and technology that makes up Host.

The product responds to the growing number of people who value the workplace experience—up by 10% in the past year, according to CBRE research. But remote working has created competition for employers, especially if the company does not have a formal user experience (UX) strategy in place.

CBRE launched Host with the understanding that even with increased agility and the ability to do work from anywhere, there is still real value in bringing employees together to spark inspiration and do the work that matters most. Host, then, is the heart of the workplace so that it is the employee destination of choice where they are greeted by world-class customer service and assisted by cutting-edge technology.

Destination: Workplace

Host begins with a boots-on-the-ground team of hospitality experts who conduct an operational and site assessment of the workplace, whether it’s a retail location, warehouse or traditional office. Here, they determine what obstacles and opportunities of the space may affect how employees stay productive, feel valued, and choose to come to the office… or not.

“While keeping in mind all the different needs inside the space, we also reflect on the culture of the company and who they are,” says Ashley Lippitt, Host Labs lead. “What’s their history? How do we make this experience authentic?”

The number of Hosts and services at a given Host site depends on the company. Considerations include how the organization currently uses the workplace and how they’re looking to transform it; the current employee journey and the best employee journey possible; the way the brand identity currently comes alive in the workplace and how an organization aspires to bring its brand alive. The Host team gears the number of staff and their delivery of service to the number of employees served and the kinds of things an organization wants to achieve with its experience; this includes, for example, attraction and retention of talent.

In-office Hosts support employees across their entire day. From greeting employees by name, managing the visitor experience, supporting the scheduling and operations of meetings, conferences, and events, ordering lunches, helping people find and use their workspaces, and providing personalized experiences, Hosts guide everyone in the office.

The Host mobile platform is designed to complement the Host team, enabling both Hosts and employees to reserve conference rooms and schedule meetings, reserve workspaces and access ambient controls, purchase food and reserve spots at community events and classes. The platform gives users and managers real-time occupancy metrics via sensors that detect whether a booked space is truly occupied, helping the user decide whether or not to take it, and the manager to optimize their portfolio.

Whether inquiring about food and beverage availability or requesting use of building services, employees can use the Host app or go directly to a Host to request a service. Hosts assist with audio/video troubleshooting and connection, set up for and clean up after meetings, and put the final touches on a business trip, like making a dinner reservation or confirming a hotel reservation.

Lending a hand

All CBRE Hosts work to tailor in-office experiences they know will create positive connections to the workplace and fit within a company’s unique culture.

Companies can choose to have Hosts assist their employees on a personal level. In-office Hosts might be asked to select a birthday gift for a loved one, make dinner reservations for an anniversary or pick up an employee’s dry cleaning.

Hosts have also scheduled workouts with popular fitness clubs, speaking engagements with diverse TED Talk speakers, and meditation sessions with sought-after instructors.

Host recently launched at a Chicago property, where employees value the city’s diverse dining experiences but are often unable to book reservations at popular restaurants. Armed with this knowledge, the company’s onsite Hosts invited representatives from 15 restaurants in the area, including a top chef, to prepare a tasting for employees.

And there’s no limit to what Hosts can bring to the office, thanks to the technology that helps them stay on track of trends and customer needs with speed and efficiency. “We allow our human Hosts to focus on hospitality,” Otieno says.

Kingsbury agrees: “We believe that creating the best solutions for people has to take a supplementary approach: the human touch assisted by technology.”


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