By Meghan Hall
Unispace has grown rapidly since its establishment ten years ago, and has filled its global portfolio working for some of the world’s most well known companies. The company recently made headlines after its acquisition by PAG, a private investment firm, a transaction that occurred after a tumultuous year for the office industry. The Registry spoke with Unispace’s Chief Revenue Officer Michael Casolo on the company’s growth trajectory post-acquisition and what it means to be in the business of commercial design.
Unispace recently announced its acquisition by PAG, a multi-national private investment firm. Why did Unispace feel that such a deal would be beneficial for the company at this point in time?
After 10 years as a privately-owned business that has experienced unparalleled growth internationally, Unispace’s company shareholders undertook a timely value assessment and attracted the attention of PAG.
PAG was impressed by our growth trajectory in just 10 years, how we’re revolutionising the creation of workplace, and how Unispace led from the front when Covid came along. PAG know they can help us achieve our future vision and goals, to grow the right way for our clients, in the right directions, and that can only add value to their business portfolio.
Until the acquisition, Unispace was privately held. How will the sale of Unispace shares and the turnover of executive roles within the company help to further its future success?
Investment partnerships have helped others within the industry to innovate, scale more quickly and enter new markets.
The strategic deal will accelerate Unispace’s growth trajectory for its second decade in market as it sets the global standard for the future of workplace strategy, design, and construction. PAG brings its deep knowledge and global expertise in the sector, which will support our ambitious international expansion plans.
With regard to the transitions at the executive level, leaders like our CEO Steve Quick, CFO Peter Rendall and I will continue with the business, working alongside our three regional managing directors to drive the business forward. Together bringing extensive global business leadership experience in the property, design & construction space that will help take Unispace to the next level – but to do so by ‘doubling down’ on our customer-first approach to project, account and relationship management.
Unispace is working to execute an aggressive growth strategy in the San Francisco Bay Area post-pandemic. What are some of the specific components of this growth strategy?
With the benefit of PAG’s expertise, Unispace will be able to make strategic moves with even
greater confidence and expand our unique global footprint.
We will retain our strong presence in Australia, where Unispace began, but will now enter new markets globally with a focus on key markets such as the Bay Area in North America, while continuing to invest in Asia and Europe.
How will Unispace’s acquisition by PAG further this goal?
While PAG won’t take an active role in the day-to-day management of Unispace, their non-executive board members’ support will provide an extra layer of strategic insight that help us with these goals.
PAG’s acquisition of Unispace will also provide new avenues for business and invaluable global network connections. They know the market – from investors to developers to agents, landlords and tenants.
Unispace is also in a number of other major markets such as Seattle, Boston, Chicago and New York City. How are Unispace’s business strategies similar in these markets? Different?
Unispace is a growth-focused business. While each market is different, our key priority across them all is to support global clients in a more strategic way.
Delivered across borders and capabilities, our strategy is to offer an agile, end-to-end experience rooted in industry-leading workplace insights and fit for today’s ever-evolving global brands.
What markets/business areas is Unispace targeting next? Why?
Unispace is primed for expansion in U.S. markets – including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Boston – and new business areas, and this move is designed to accelerate growth domestically and abroad as owners and tenants continue to transition out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A key expansion area for Unispace outside of the U.S. is Asia, particularly China, India, Hong Kong, and Singapore. A top priority is to target global acquisitions to speed up growth and cement our position as industry disruptors in the era of Covid-19 and beyond.
What specific business lessons has Unispace learned in its growth over the years, and how will the firm use these lessons as it expands in—and to new—markets?
Unispace has seen significant and successful growth over the past decade with over 5,500 workplace projects completed, presence across 26 countries, and 600+ employees worldwide – it’s now ready for the next 10 years of growth.
With a growing order book, even in these uncertain times, Unispace is continuing to make workplace creation more relevant and empowering for modern businesses. It relies on strong partnerships, which enable quicker decision-making and better communication, and is delivered consistently and seamlessly to our clients around the world.
Are there any projects Unispace is currently working on that it would like to highlight? If so, why are these projects exciting or revolutionary?
We can’t always name the exciting projects, out of respect for confidentiality, but Unispace attracts a blue-chip client list – including several Fortune 100 companies and the likes of Sonos, PayPal, and Johnson & Johnson.
Since the pandemic hit, Unispace has led the way in guiding clients’ future office strategies with our Propeller hybrid framework for the future workplace. What is exciting is that we’re starting to see several projects that apply the principles of Propeller. The real story here is that for these clients – tech, life sciences and financial services in particular – Unispace is helping them develop global and regional workplace standards for the ‘new normal’. Much of the work in defining how Propeller can help businesses happened in 2020, and we’re now seeing ‘proof of concept’ in delivering these projects around the globe.
Looking ahead, how do you believe the office strategy, design and construction markets will continue to evolve as the CRE industry recovers from the 2020 market correction?
In a moment when global business is captivated by the future of work, Unispace is revolutionizing workplace for our clients and continuing to support clients with making smarter business decisions about the post-Covid workplace. The office isn’t dead, but it is going to look and feel different.
Unispace is using three primary tools to help clients predict workforce needs and adapt future workplaces: Propeller ‘hybrid workplace’ framework, a WorkReady Survey that measures employee sentiment, and a predictive analytics tool that models expected occupancy levels.
Our research shows that 20-60% of the workforce will continue to work remotely even after the vaccine rollouts, and that 10-30% of space will remain unoccupied. Evidence like this has driven the Propeller concept of balancing remote and office-based working.
Is there anything you would like to add, or anything that we should be asking?
Yes – what we are seeing here in the Bay Area, and elsewhere in the West, is that our clients are looking at us to help support them not only locally, but globally. In many cases, we are in fact helping them with ‘global-first’ as this is where the greatest pain points often exist.
Unispace isn’t only the logical partner for them due to our global footprint but for two other reasons. First, we manage our business as a single global entity – which makes global delivery and accountability truly seamless. Second, our operating model and integrated approach facilitates global work at speed, consistently, and with less client headaches.