“Where do you get your best, most creative ideas?”

Duncan Wardle, former Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, riveted the roughly 3,000 attendees of the CoreNet Global Summit in Anaheim on the Monday Opening General Session with this question.

And the attendees answered out loud: the shower, when falling asleep, or waking up. Tellingly, no one said “while at work.”

Wardle gave a powerful lesson in the need for creativity in our lives. He showed how Walt Disney changed the vernacular by not having employees, but cast members who didn’t wear uniforms, but costumes. He called customers guests.

And Wardle said that example can be followed in today’s workplace, where a receptionist is recast as The Director of First Impressions.

And what does all that have to do with corporate real estate?

It has everything to do with corporate real estate, said attendee Del Boyette, President & CEO, Boyette Strategic Advisors.

And it was a major theme of the day that employees are customers and the role of the corporate real estate professional is to keep those customers happy.

At a Campfire Session just outside the convention center, Charles Knuth, Head of Commuter Insights at Scoop, told the gathered attendees that one’s commute is now one of the top three drivers of voluntary attrition.

Should companies care about this, and is there anything they can do about it?

Yes and Yes.

Access to free parking is just the beginning. “For commuters who are most likely to switch modes, options that cut costs, allow for flexibility and incorporate additional help (such as ride matching and carpooling) are the most compelling motivators,” Knuth presented in a company survey report.

“Offering a more robust range of commuting solutions is a benefit to employees and an advantage to employers. It empowers commuters to take the stress not only off their wallets, but off their minds as well.”

A lot of the attendees saw fireworks when they heard that.

Or, maybe it was just the daily show at Disneyland. Either way, it was exciting.

Empathy is another important concept for today’s workplace and it was demonstrated in three virtual reality vignettes presented by Tobin Asher from the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University.

The virtual reality booths projected immersive lessons in racial and ethnic tolerance, homelessness and the sustainability of our oceans.

Asher says not only are the lessons valuable, the technology presents new methods of employee training for corporate real estate professionals.

Employees can’t be happy if they are not safe and during a learning session in the Innovation Pavilion, Anne Hardy, Chief Security Officer at Join Digital, offered tips and best practices for avoiding a data breach:

  • Be secure by design
  • Incorporate zero trust architecture
  • Authenticate, Authorize, Mentor
  • Assume breach mentality
  • Assess your vendor/partner
  • Update, Upgrade, Patch
  • Plan for incidents and test your plans!

Candy Chang, also a morning keynoter, is an artist who believes our shared spaces can play a vital role in our emotional health and kinship. One of Chang’s interactive art experiences, on display at the Summit, is giant chalkboard with the line “Before I die, I want to:_______” Chalk is provided for attendees to fill in the blanks.

As he walked out of the session, Wardle stopped by the board and completed one of the lines by writing “prove that everyone can be creative.”