CREW Coffee Diaries

October 27, 2020

CREW Coffees are lively Tuesday morning discussions brought to you by our Gold Sponsors and Toronto CREW member moderators. Insights on the commercial real estate industry are shared in this small group, members-only setting. CREW Coffee Diaries looks at the spirit of conversations from past events. Click here for upcoming CREW Coffee events.

October 27, 2020
Cultivating Culture in the Workplace

Moderator Tara Piurko began this CREW Coffee with, "Company culture is created regardless of its size and needs to be maintained." She then opened the discussion asking attendees to share their experiences about must-have company cultural practices and those to avoid.

The impact company culture has on its employees is significant. It can make good employees quit and bad employees stay. Attendees concluded that the practices that make a good culture can ultimately make a bad culture if they're missing.

Practices to Keep

  1. Build trust
  2. Be friendly
  3. Get to know employees
  4. Show appreciation
  5. Communicate clear goals
  6. Provide regular feedback
  7. Be transparent

Cultivating workplace culture is something employees at every level help build. While the CEO and executives instill the culture and Human Resources and team leaders model the culture, all employees play a role in making a culture authentic.

October 20, 2020
Intersectionality in the Workplace

With passion and interest, CREW Coffee attendees engaged in a conversation led by moderator Karen Sweet on Intersectionality in the Workplace: Employing Inclusion & Diversity to Elevate Women

Intersectionality identifies advantages and disadvantages felt by people due to factors such as race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, and religion.

Points that resonated with attendees included:

  • Recognizing that advantages and disadvantages exist. 
  • Seeing people for their capabilities and not for attributes like skin colour.
  • Moving beyond self-directed education to action. 
  • Being or finding a champion.
  • Measurable accountability for change.
  • Keeping the conversation going.

Recommended Resources on Intersectionality

Who’s Reading What during COVID-19
This week's participants shared their latest reading or watching.

Thank you to Gold Sponsor, QuadReal, for presenting this CREW Coffee.

October 6, 2020
Going Back to the Office

Moderator Ali Maher’s coffee conversation focused on how companies are returning employees to the office.
In a nutshell, companies are bringing employees back in phases, having started with essential workers, and now expanding the return of others on a rotating scheduled basis. While some participants were already back in the office, the majority were coming into the office part-time or still working full-time from home.

Participants already back at the office, highlighted similar workplace modifications:

  • One-way directional walkway flows around the workplace.
  • Booking procedures to work from the office.
  • Designation workstations.
  • Increased hand sanitizer stations.
  • Frequent sanitation of high-touch surfaces.
  • Limited capacity or closure of meeting rooms and kitchens.
  • Protocols for employees who fall ill.
  • Continuing online meetings in the office.

While participants talked about the pros and cons of workplace location, everyone agreed that a positive outcome of the pandemic is a future with flexible work locations based on productivity and preference.

For now, with the second COVID-19 wave firmly upon us, companies are moving their timeframe of returning employees to the office well into 2021. 

Thank you to Gold Sponsor, Vivreau, for presenting this CREW Coffee.

September 22, 2020
Adopting a “Pay it Forward” Philosophy in Networking

Moderator Alina Iordache lead participants in a discussion on building and staying connected with their network by keeping this simple philosophy in mind – pay it forward.

Reciprocity in networking is a proven way to form strong, lasting relationships. It’s human nature to reciprocate after you’ve been given something. The “pay it forward” philosophy in networking keeps reciprocity top-of-mind.

But where do you start?

With someone you meet, say during a CREW Coffee, email them a couple meaningful contacts from your network or provide a piece of industry information that would be beneficial to them. By helping them expand their network and access new information, you’re starting a trusted relationship.

Here are some other actionable “pay it forward” steps you can take today:

  • Recommend a woman in your network on LinkedIn.
  • Introduce two women in your network that would benefit from knowing each other.
  • Invite fellow Toronto CREW members to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Share an upcoming Toronto CREW event with a colleague in your network who's interested in the topic. Most of our fall events are open to non-members.
  • Contact someone in your network with a question or to discuss a problem. 
  • Do these steps on a regular basis.
The "pay it forward" philosophy in networking helps you do one thing well – give first!

Thank you to Gold Sponsor, RioCan REIT, for presenting this CREW Coffee

September 15, 2020
Can you Set Goals during a Pandemic?

Moderator Darcie Garand asked participants how they are tacking goals during COVID-19.

The uncertainty of a pandemic makes goal setting and planning difficult. Vacations, socializing, entertainment, school, and work have all been disrupted during the health crisis. Living local and day-to-day is more commonplace. So how do we tackle setting goals these days?

Perspective is key. What positive things have happened during the pandemic? Perhaps it’s been being more connected through virtual platforms, not being overscheduled, spending more time with your household, cooking more, learning to bake or having less interruptions during the workday. You may not have planned them but they are accomplishments.

Focus on projects instead of goals. Whether around the house or at working, take on those projects you’ve never had time for in the past. Create that user manual, clean out that closet or take that skills development course.

Start small. Reserve 15 minutes instead of an afternoon to begin a new project. Tackle the work in manageable pieces and feel satisfied with what you do accomplish.

Be realistic. Manage your expectations by working within the time and energy you have for extra projects. Tackling a project at a slow and steady pace will still get you to the end!

Thank you to Gold SponsorCBRE, for presenting this CREW Coffee.

August 25, 2020
Networking during COVID-19: What Works and What Doesn’t

With guest moderator, Sharon Addison, attendees discussed the do’s and don’ts about networking during COVID-19.

With six months of the pandemic under our belts, we’ve learned a lot from being home-based in work and life. Socializing and work collaborations quickly moved online. We’ve run the gamut of online meetings and socials to the point of being “Zoomed” out. Networking approaches are now softening and more flexible as we learn to gauge online energy levels. 

But has networking during a pandemic really changed?

Yes, as online networking can benefit from these lessons learned. 
  • Be realistic about the time you need. Check-ins with teams or contacts can be short.
  • Circulating notes afterwards helps keep everyone on track and provides another point of contact. 
  • Sharing the pandemic journey together allows for a more human touch professionally. Asking to hear how people are doing goes along way to connect personally.
  • Online networking has improved access to executives and other senior people not always available during in-person meetings or events. Seeing people in their home environment has added a personal dimension.
No, as these networking fundaments are constant.
  • Be armed with something to say such as sharing a LinkedIn post, article of interest or business opportunity.
  • Become a trusted advisor by offering ideas, industry examples and other trends as real estate companies rethink their business.
  • Always be human by asking how people are doing, share your own story and identify commonalities.
  • Remember that networking isn’t about selling your services; it’s about connecting. 
Toronto CREW has always been about cross-selling and building relationships that lead to self-improvement. You don’t need to work together to benefit from a relationship. Cherish all networking relationships since everyone has something to offer!

Thank you to Gold SponsorRBC Royal Bank for presenting this CREW Coffee.

August 12, 2020
Has COVID-19 created new opportunities for your business?

This was the question posed by this week’s moderator, Alina Iordache. The conversation started with opportunities to accelerate the introduction of new products or services because of COVID-19. The example cited was an early launch of a real estate investment vehicle to provide creative financial solutions and options for a wide range of real estate stakeholders amidst the pandemic-induced economic downturn.

Discussion turned to the nimble response from both service providers and property managers to provide increased building cleaning and sanitization needs. Cleaning companies and building management started conversations early with employees, customers, and tenants to discuss space access and use and communicate revised cleaning protocols to ensure their safety. With employees returning to work, both sides have an increased diligence in managing cleaning budgets. 

As businesses re-opened, it was noted the visual changes made to retail and office environments. Increased directional signage and use of floor stickers to manage one-way pedestrian flow have reinforced the constant need for physical distancing to reduce COVID-19 transmissions.

Technology companies have also pivoted to introduce software applications and sensors to assist building operations in reading body temperature, air quality, occupancy, and contact tracing.

Thank you to Gold Sponsor, Bee-Clean Building Maintenance, for presenting this CREW Coffee.

May 5, 2020
What are you reading or watching these days?

As a change of pace, today’s Board host, Melissa Nowak asked which books or tv series are helping members through this pandemic? Where the Crawdads Sing, The Water Dancer, TransAtlantic, Grace & Frankie, The Last Dance and Ozark are among the books and binge-worthy watching providing a distraction from the COVID-19 crisis. Gardening, knitting, and walking the dog have become coveted activities that reinvigorate members after a long day in the home office.

The conversation turned to the personal fears we have about reopening for business. Using transit, waiting for and being in elevators, using public washrooms and any crowded situation were immediately identified. Property managers are inundated with tenant questions on reopening requiring nimble thinking to reverse building density for a healthier environment. Working together and managing differently will be key to a successful workplace reintegration.  

April 28, 2020 
Home Offices = Working Differently

Board host, Mya Rahimian opened today’s conversation about the need to work differently in our home-offices. Aided by technology, the pandemic has proven that individuals and teams are productive when working from home: 
  • Virtual tours of vacant space and construction sites have kept leasing and building projects moving forward. 
  • The adoption of new technologies has enhanced building team capacity, prevented over-crowding at construction sites and improved the management of shared spaces.
  • A shift from emails and phone calls to video calls has built stronger relationships among dispersed teams or clients.
The take-away? The pandemic has changed the way we live and work and some changes might be worth keeping.  Better work-life balance, better recognition of individuals and roles, respect for others and preserving our natural environment were cited as valuable learning during the pandemic that is important to carry forward personally and professionally. 
April 21, 2020
What will reopening for business look like?

Board host Kim Train's conversation starter was about reopening for business and what it might look like. Members cited company discussions about shifting workstations further apart or staggering those who work in the office with those working from home, creating one-way directional flows through office spaces, limiting capacity in common areas like meeting and lunch rooms, increasing cleaning schedules for high-touch surfaces, adding more hand-sanitizer stations and how to limit crowding for elevator access.

The conversation broadened to all aspects of property and tenant management like how food courts will be managed and pedestrian flow through and around buildings during peak times? While no one yet has all the answers, these topics are being used as conversation starters between leasing teams and tenants to keep an open dialogue and strengthen relationships.

April 14, 2020
Positive Aspects of being Home-Based

Board host Farrah Khimji launched CREW Coffee with a discussion on the positive aspects of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. No commute, more sleep and easy morning routines has allowed more time for kids, workouts, professional development, personal interests and helping others. Attendees expressed how they are in touch with family and friends locally and abroad more than ever before.  

Unfortunately, some expressed a decrease in work activity and others an increase in hours due to working across different time zones.  

The discussion turned to heartwarming stories of how their companies are responding to the crisis, such as retooling equipment to make face shields, engaging suppliers in supplying fabric for healthcare face masks and establishing an employee relief fund for financial support. 

There’s no going back to normal after the pandemic, especially for how and where we work.