Roger DeWames, Senior Vice President Development, on future-proofing the workplace and using the Scientific Method to drive business success for customers.
How do you design a workplace for tomorrow’s workforce? Start with data, not assumptions. Roger DeWames, Senior Vice President Development, shares how Irvine Company is building smart space that works for companies today and tomorrow.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the amazing people we work with and the opportunity to create. Every day at Irvine Company, we get to work with so many ambitious, collaborative and high-potential people. I’m inspired by the way that our Irvine Company teams find new ways to solve problems and grow our business. Our Development, Design and Construction teams get to wake up every day and create special places for our customers and our communities. We get to take a piece of raw land or an existing property, imagine new possibilities and bring a vision to life in a way that enhances lives and drives business success. Placemaking – creating something new that fits within a community’s existing fabric – is incredibly inspiring.
How do you solve problems?
Generally speaking, my preferred framework for decision-making is the Scientific Method, which starts with a hypothesis and then moves through experimentation, measurement and refinement. One thing I love about reinvestment is that each project presents an opportunity to experiment, with each subsequent reinvestment building on the lessons learned from its predecessors. When it comes to communal spaces, for example, we observe how different teams utilize these spaces throughout the day and see how people connect emotionally with the space. People don’t always use a space the way you imagine and it’s important to create spaces that can adapt as needs evolve through a variety of use cases.
“We’re creating at a scale and level of quality that no other developer can replicate. We’re building with purpose and intentionality, creating spaces that evolve over time. We’re building the backdrop to people’s lives.”
What do you enjoy most about your work at Irvine Company?
We have the opportunity to create at a scale and level of quality that no other developer can replicate. At Irvine Company, we build with purpose and intentionality – we’re creating spaces that evolve over time and are integrated within a broader, ever-changing community. We design with an eye towards future possibilities, not just near-term financial return. We don’t necessarily select the least expensive or the trendiest alternatives; we’re focused on meeting our customers’ stated and unstated needs. We’re building the backdrop to peoples’ lives. Our customer-focused teams are using those physical spaces to create experiences people will remember and tell their friends about. It’s an incredible privilege to be a part of that process.
How do you future-proof the workplace?
From remote workforces to driverless cars, technology is rapidly transforming the contemporary workplace. Will parking garages be obsolete in ten years? How will virtual teams collaborate? As we continue to study technology and its impacts, we’re intentionally designing space flexible enough to morph over time so it works for companies today and tomorrow. We have a hypothesis about the way the world will look in the future, and we need to continue to gather data, learn and stay nimble to take advantage of and react to new innovation.
What’s the single biggest element companies overlook in workplace selection?
I think some companies solely focus on the physical elements of their space, or the rental rate, but don’t fully appreciate the importance of the customer service their landlord will deliver. Our Operations team is the best in the business. It’s amazing to hear the stories from customers who left our portfolio and decided to come back because they didn’t realize what a difference our team made while they were with us. It’s hard to overstate the impact a great onsite team can have in driving business success. Our teams are truly focused on maximizing the total value of our workplace communities, and it shows.
What’s the most important consideration when developing a workplace community?
To be a great developer, you need to think like an ethnographer. Design decisions should be based on careful study of human behavior and space evolution, and we’re focused on continuously refining our product offerings based on that research. We strive to give our customers a competitive advantage by intentionally developing spaces that help them attract and retain the best talent and grow their businesses.
If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Patience is critical. Taking the time to fully understand a problem, gather input and understand additional points of view is so important to decision-making. Giving yourself a moment to think, even if it’s just 10 minutes, almost always leads to a better solution. Also, I would tell my younger self and any young person, don’t compromise your dreams: do something you’re passionate about.