Exclusive Q&A: Building Robotics President Lindsay Baker Talks Office Trends And Technology
Building Robotics president Lindsay Baker found her niche early on, right after high school. She is among the all-star panelists scheduled to speak at Bisnow's Los Angeles Annual Office Forum event tomorrow at Hollywood 959 in the Hollywood Media District.
We caught up with Lindsay to talk about technology and how it's changing the workplace.
Bisnow: How did you get started in the industry?
Lindsay Baker: I started studying green buildings right out of high school and have been a part of the industry since. My first job out of college was working at the US Green Building Council during the early days of LEED, which was a great way to get exposure to all facets of the building industry. I'm definitely in it for the long haul—it's an incredible privilege to work in an industry where we have the potential to have a huge positive impact on people and the environment at the same time.
Bisnow: What is your company's strategy?
Lindsay Baker: Our software, Comfy, provides comfort as a service to our customers by plugging our machine-learning software into existing building systems to allow for better personalized dynamic control. We improve the relationship between buildings and the people who work in them—it's a little like a productivity app that impacts your physical surroundings to give you a better place to work. We also make Comfy available on a pure subscription basis, which has been a great strategy for us, because it allows people to try the service in a small way without a big financial commitment. There's a lot to the strategy, to be honest, but that's the basics!
Bisnow: What do you identify as current trends in office environments?
Lindsay Baker: Certainly we see a big trend towards free address office environments—in other words, unassigned seating. (Lindsay is pictured above, hiking in the Eastern Sierra.) It's a part of the related trend towards less space needed per person. This means a lot, actually, in terms of how office environments will change. Now we need ways for people to book desks, for example. It also means we can run buildings based more on demand. And competition for better quality environments is growing. Companies like WeWork, no matter what you think about the valuation, are absolutely changing expectations.
Bisnow: What do you think the future looks like for office space, and do you think those trends will continue?
Lindsay Baker: Trends are funny things. There are fad-like trends like bell-bottom jeans, and there are macroeconomic trends like global urbanization. In real estate, too, there are fads and there are macroeconomic trends. When you look at the real macroeconomic trends, one thing is clear: technology allows us to not need offices as much. That's really great, in terms of quality of life—we get to work where we want! But for those of us who provide commercial real estate to the world, if demand goes down, competition goes up. That means differentiation, higher-quality environments, more flexibility for tenants. It means offices will start feeling like nicer places to spend time. I think those trends will continue, because they are large economic trends. We might not always love things like green walls, though—those could be a fad.
Bisnow: What do you like to do in your personal life outside of work?
Lindsay Baker: I get outside as much as I can. (Lindsay is pictured above in Tomales Bay.) Ever since moving to California nine years ago, I've had a total love of this amazing state. My best times are camping with friends, hiking, kayaking, etc., and playing music around campfires.