Joanna Morrow and Adriana Silva
Senior Property Manager and Regional Marketing and Events Manager
At LBA Realty, Joanna and Adriana support two different sides of the business. On one hand, Joanna manages the day-to-day operations of LBA’s One Culver property, a Class A office building with a diverse range of tenants. Her role includes ensuring that all maintenance and security staff can do their job efficiently, as well as budgeting, managing tenant requests, and working with on-site service providers and vendors. On the other hand, Adriana leads LBA’s regional marketing efforts, which involves property photoshoots, enhancing the company’s social media channels, and working with external parties interested in booking the property for filming and events. Together, the pair collaborate often on creating a world-class tenant experience through engaging events and offerings that support a hybrid workforce.
It’s wonderful to meet you both! Can you tell me a little about your previous experiences with the commercial real estate industry?
Adriana: Sure thing. I am the regional marketing lead, which means a lot of things. Anything marketing-related for our various properties falls under me. I’ve been working in real estate with LBA for about five years.
Joanna: And I’ve been at LBA for about a year and nine months. In total, I have about 12 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry. Most of my time was spent managing buildings on the East Coast in Washington D.C. I have been managing office building in LA since September 2018.
Let’s talk about One Culver for a bit.
Joanna: One Culver is a Class A office building located in the heart of downtown. It’s a very high-energy, creative property. It’s over 350,000 square feet of modern architecture, office space, terraces, restaurants, retail, and a beautiful landscape. In total, we have 13 tenants and they’re all super unique. Some are technology groups, some are creative, it’s very diverse. One Culver is truly a place for people to gather, collaborate, and innovate.
For properties like One Culver, how do you find your roles collaborating?
Joanna: We’ve always collaborated a lot, but I think it’s a lot more now since we’re back inside of the office. We host very cool events, and Adriana plans them all. Because of this, we’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming and thinking of creative ways to get people back into the building in a safe but engaging way.
We’re seeing more and more property teams dedicate staff as tenant engagement or community managers. In this case, it’s unique that the two of you split these responsibilities to focus on the tenant experience. Overall, why do you think tenant experience is important to LBA?
Adriana: The tenant experience is everything to LBA! One of the greatest things about LBA as a company is that they are so tenant-centric. Every discussion starts with: What will be attractive to the tenants? That drives those decisions in terms of the offerings and events we put on at the properties. For example, there’s a central atrium lobby at One Culver with plenty of seating and a media wall. Tenants slowly started mingling in the space when the property first opened. However, many tenants commented that they would enjoy having a reason to hang out in the space throughout the day. Those comments led us to creating a dynamic event schedule that encompasses everything from happy hours and ice cream pop ups, to breakfast, custom coffees in the lobby, and pretty much anything that we think will resonate with the tenants. We’re always open to doing new things. Just last night, we had a football game on our large media wall in the lobby! It was great.
That’s incredible. What made you think of football?
Adriana: I heard a few people walking through the lobby talking about how much they would love to be able to have football on-site. I immediately texted Joanna and told her we should do something football related. She replied right away and said, “Absolutely, let’s do Monday Night Football!” We made it super informal so anyone could come, and it was a hit. It’s really great because we can be nimble like that and bring whatever we need to the property based on what the tenants want.
I love that. Since you both are wearing so many hats, are there any challenges you discover while on the job?
Joanna: I would say the most challenging aspect is problem solving the day-to-day issues that pop up. For example, yesterday our alarm went off twice during routine building testing but we also had filming going on. You also can’t always prepare for some of the tenant requests, and you need to make sure all your staff is working well together to give everyone a better experience in the building. As a property manager, things like that happen all the time.
Do you use workplace technology to help you with any of those challenges?
Joanna: We do. It allows me to communicate quicker. I can send out messages and information through the app, directly to the people who need to see it. I love using push notifications. We know everyone always has their phone on them, so it’s a lot easier for us to communicate that way versus having to draft an email or send messages through a single point-of-contact or some other system. It has made my job a lot easier.
And what else do you use your building app for?
Adriana: I just love that we can create event invitations on it. Since we re-started our tenant event program a few months ago, everyone who attends or walks by our events has mentioned that they either saw it on the app or that they heard there’s an app for it. People are really engaging with it, which is so helpful for me because it helps gauge attendance. In years prior, I had no idea who was actually going to show up to any of our tenant events. We were always estimating head counts based on word of mouth. The app streamlined this whole process, and is a lot more accurate for planning.
You seem to get a lot of great tenant feedback!
Adriana: We do. After events we ask strategic questions about what other events people would like to see. We’ve actually created follow-up events based off of the feedback we received from prior events. It’s a great way to guarantee success.
Is there a favorite event that you put on through the app?
Joanna: Personally, I think all of our events are great. We had a manicure happy hour a few weeks ago. It was a pop-up manicure event in the lobby, and Adriana found all of this great furniture that she rented to create a lounge similar to a nail salon. We created a bar and had four different nail technicians giving the tenants 15-minute manicure appointments. It was really cute and fun.
I love that, a lot of detail went into that event and I’m glad your building app is helping promote those events. What other role do you think technology is playing in the future of commercial real estate?
Adriana: I think we can answer that by going back to how LBA got involved with HqO. It was almost the perfect story. In 2019, I was doing so many of these events and was faced with the problem of not knowing what tenants really wanted. We were still focused on retail at the time, and had no way to gauge what the market was really demanding. All of these questions were running through my mind and one day, as I was driving into work, I was wondering if there was an app to help track all of the data related to an office property. As soon as I parked, I started to search and found HqO. I thought to myself that this is exactly what the industry needed. In a lot of ways, the industry is a bit old school. But adding in the data component with a building app for every property and really getting tenants engaged with the property team is timeless. That need is only going to continue to grow moving forward.
Joanna: Exactly, and employers will definitely continue to embrace hybrid work schedules and work from home. Property teams will need to be creative and figure out how to adjust to remain as key players in the industry. We’ll have more settings to do work, like coworking spaces and flexible space people can rent.
Do you think the physical environment will still be an important part of the workplace?
Joanna: Of course, people will want to be able to collaborate in person. I enjoy it as much as I enjoy working from home. I see the benefits of being able to work with my assistance manager when she’s in the office. The communication is quicker. I’m able to show her things without worrying about sharing my screen through a Zoom link. There are definitely also social benefits to being able to see people in person and see their reactions. That’s very important to me. I always want to make sure I‘m coming across as a good communicator so people understand me. I can’t gauge that over the phone.
I agree, the office is a place for the human interactions you can’t replace. At such a pivotal moment in history, what advice do you have for someone new to the industry?
Joanna: Try not to stress about anything. Just take every day like it’s a new day. Everything changes so fast now, especially since the pandemic, and nothing is ever the same. It takes a lot of patience but there are tools and services that can help make it easier.
Conversations was a monthly blog series that featured the managers and partners who use HqO at the property level — the things they saw, the challenges they had, and how they thought technology impacted them. You can still catch these stories by subscribing to its podcast counterpart: Conversations with HqO. For more information about LBA Realty, click here. For more information about how HqO can elevate your workplace experience strategies, schedule a free demo today.