Property Technology: Driving Culture Change at Mcdonald's

Scott Phillips, Director, Corporate Real Estate, McDonald’s Corporation
Scott Phillips, Director, Corporate Real Estate, McDonald’s Corporation

Scott Phillips, Director, Corporate Real Estate, McDonald’s Corporation

I recently read a great quote from Ryan Simonetti, CEO of Convene, a premium hospitality space-as-a service provider, who said, “Space is the body language of an organization and should have the ability to move people.” With the ongoing corporate war for talent and need to create environments that foster innovation and speed to market, the timing of this statement couldn’t be more appropriate. Corporations continue to move away from the past notion of facilities as an expense to be managed, toward space as an investment to be leveraged.

If space is an organizations body language, I would suggest that Property Technology is the muscle that gives movement and has the ability to motivate and inspire. Is your Property Technology strategy the muscle driving your workplace forward or does it feel more like a 40-year-old’s first time at the gym in so many years; difficult, painful, and easily given up on?

  Success with Property Technology requires a changing mindset within CRE around partnerships, skills sets, and a forward focus  

At McDonald’s Corporation, we recently completed the move into our new 500,000 square foot global HQ, after more than thirty years in the same suburban Chicago location. Our move back into the city (Ray Kroc’s first office was in downtown Chicago) provided an opportunity to expand efforts in driving cultural change at an industry leader. It was clear our body language was not communicating our vision, and we definitely needed to develop our muscle further when it came to Property Technology.

Drawing from the lessons learned from multiple pilot projects over the preceding years, our McDonald’s Corporate Real Estate (CRE) team crafted a new workplace strategy for the HQ that blended dedicated functional neighbourhoods, unassigned workspace, and activity-based work, using Property Technology to create a renewed body language and drive cultural change toward an innovation mindset.

Using location-based service integrated into WiFi infrastructure, we created a technology stack that leverages presence detection to drive multiple systems, providing comfort and convenience, and creating a unique technology experience. All of these services are then wrapped into a mobile workplace app that provides one single access point for all enhanced employee functions. The workplace app offers the convenience of:

• Way finding that allows for full blue dot functionality and turn by turn navigation

• Conference room booking including room availability at a glance by floor or location

• Push notifications to prompt for room booking or check-in based on presence detection

• Direct and instant temperature control based on location

• Simplified facilities requests leveraging location-based services

• Transportation information providing shuttle arrival times for train commuters

So, with all of the Property Technology options available (and the number of providers is growing rapidly) how do you determine what is right for your organization? How do you integrate technology that can not only meet your current needs but can survive the next economic downturn?

For our McDonald’s CRE team is was critical for us to tie our Property Technology strategy back to our broader business drivers. As McDonald’s culture continues to evolve toward a technology and innovation mindset, it was important that our body language communicates the same. As we leverage technology to meet the changing demands of our customers, from mobile order to mobile payments, from order kiosks in restaurants to at home delivery, technology is driving how we think about customer engagement. As a result, decisions made around workplace strategy, design, and technology were all looked at with a similar lens. Are we fully leveraging the workplace, including Property Technology, as a means to drive the culture forward? Does the workplace inspire our employees toward a mindset of innovation and creativity with technology as one of the levers?

Success with Property Technology requires a changing mindset within CRE around partnerships, skills sets, and a forward focus.

Our success with technology, in great part, is due to the partnership with our IT organization. Early in the HQ project, we engaged with IT to ensure integration of IT strategy which included a mobile-first concept – WiFi and cellular technology enable full mobility in the office with all employees provided a laptop and cellphone (no landlines or network cables to every desk). The success of mobile first and our IT partnership has been foundational in our further Property Technology initiatives.

Our CRE team continues to evolve, adding staff positions with skill sets that allow us to more effectively speak IT’s language. Our newly created roles around Smart Building Systems Administration and Data Analytics are ensuring not only current but the future success of our Property Technology investments.

Finally, Property Technology should be viewed as a continuous improvement opportunity. As we continue to build our technology muscle, the data gained from our initial investment is being used to inform future enhancements to our technology stack. As an example, location-based services are informing enhanced technology investments to further accuracy around utilization and presence detection. All are driving the changing nature of CRE—from a tactical response to a consultant based function— empowering our business units to leverage the workplace as a driver of cultural change effectively.

Read Also

Is the End Near? (For Traditional Real Estate That Is)

Is the End Near? (For Traditional Real Estate That Is)

Terry LeClair, SVP, First Team Real Estate, Southern California
The Evolving Role of Content Providers in the Property Ecosystem

The Evolving Role of Content Providers in the Property Ecosystem

Mikhail Palatnik, VP, Product Management, CoreLogic [NYSE:CLGX]
Using Technology to Better Serve Customers

Using Technology to Better Serve Customers

Carol Haddock, Director, Houston Public Works
Blockchain Technology is Coming: Is the World of Real Estate Ready?

Blockchain Technology is Coming: Is the World of Real Estate Ready?

Kevin Shtofman, Global Technology Strategy, Real Estate, Deloitte