By Jack Stubbs
In the current era of commercial real estate tech, many companies are striving to implement strategies that allow them to streamline the property management process through the use of tech-based platforms.
Workframe, a platform headquartered in New York City and founded in 2016, aims to simplify the construction, management and maintenance process for members of the AEC community at all levels of the design, build-out and leasing process. We recently spoke with Robert Moore, founder and CEO of Workframe, about the platform, the services it looks to provide its clients with and how it hopes to contribute to changes in the evolving commercial real estate industry.
What can you tell me about Workframe (where and when the company was founded, current objectives of the company, etc.)?
Our objective is very straightforward: to optimize collaboration for all parties involved in the leasing, build-out and ongoing maintenance of office spaces. I started the company with Andy Parsons and Matthew Smith who serve as our CTO and CPO, and for each of us the impetus to start Workframe came from our prior professional experiences.
We had all been involved in entrepreneurial ventures earlier in our careers, and we were all struck by how inefficient it was to find and build out an office. This challenge applies to companies of all sizes, from startups looking for their first facility to multinational corporations that manage office locations around the world. Workframe is a collaboration tool that makes things simpler and more efficient for the dozens of professionals involved in each of these projects.
Who are some of the primary clients and users of the platform, and what are some of the day-to-day services that it provides?
The majority of our clients are large corporate tenants—primarily Directors of Real Estate and Heads of Facilities. Workframe customers include members of the Fortune 500 and household-name technology companies.
In addition to tenants, Workframe also benefits landlords and brokerage firms. One of our most noteworthy clients is Newmark Knight Frank, which also led our Series B funding round. As one of the most forward-thinking CRE firms, Newmark is very cognizant of the efficiencies technology can bring to brokers and other members of the industry. Their decision to invest in our business and deploy Workframe underscores the value of our platform.
How does the platform look to streamline the workflow between industry professionals? In the currently-booming construction industry, what are some of the challenges involved in ensuring that projects are delivered on time?
At its core, Workframe is a collaboration and communication platform that streamlines the workflow of commercial real estate and facilities professionals. While there are a handful of generic productivity and workflow solutions on the market, none adequately address the unique complexities of the real estate industry.
As an industry, CRE is heavily intermediated. This makes the process of finding, designing and building out a new office space particularly challenging. A typical project can involve more than 50 people from 10-plus companies—including the tenant, brokerage firm, landlord, architect, and general contractor. With so many players involved and most communication taking place over email and other inefficient channels, there are invariably communication issues that lead to missed deadlines and cost over-runs. Workframe was built to address these challenges. The platform centralizes all communication in a single hub where users can easily visualize projects, assign tasks and track deliverables in the context of an interactive floorplan of their space.
How are tech-based platforms continuing to change the brokerage industry in particular, an industry that was traditionally based on establishing and maintaining face-to-face relationships?
It’s tough to paint all tech-based platforms with the same brush. While there may be some tech platforms with the potential to replace the human element, that generally isn’t the case with productivity tools like Workframe. For us, the principal goal is to enable CRE professionals to operate more efficiently. Our platform centralizes communication and decision-making to reduce friction at every stage of the project lifecycle and facilitate the on-time completion of capital initiatives.
In the current era of commercial real estate tech, there are many platforms that provide the same services as Workframe. What makes Workframe unique and moving forward, how will the platform ensure that it is implementing the most up-to-date software into its algorithms?
There are a number of platforms designed to streamline real estate sales and lease transactions, but Workframe is the only system that provides a comprehensive workflow solution for the entire CRE process. Workframe is unique in supporting all necessary coordination among not just the tenant, landlord and broker, but also project managers, architects, designers and engineers.
When it comes to service provides in particular, how are tech-based platforms changing the way that organizations within the AEC community interact with one another in the day-to-day?
We keep the AEC community front of mind in our product development process. While third-party service providers are not our customers per se, it is vital that they find utility in the platform since they are a critical component of any project’s workflow. We’ve found that these third parties suffer from many of the same challenges that we see with large corporate tenants.
For example, architects and designers don’t have a sophisticated solution for tracking client communications and approvals around major design decisions, which can cause confusion and result in costly mistakes. Some of the largest and most respected [architecture and design] firms in the world are using Workframe to communicate with our customers on major projects.
Is there anything in particular that concerns you about the rapid rate at which the commercial real estate industry is changing due to the increasing influence of technology?
As more and more members of the industry adopt technology, there will inevitably be some growing pains. Software has bugs, tech platforms can be misunderstood, and other mistakes can crop up. But, in the aggregate, I definitely think the industry’s embrace of technology is moving things in a positive direction.