HqO and Savills Partner to Advise Tenants on Return to Office

The proptech firm and the brokerage giant hope to empirically prove which workplace setups actually work the best — and which don’t


HqO, a proptech company specializing in the workplace experience, and tenant-focused brokerage services firm Savills announced Tuesday that they have formed a partnership aimed at aiding tenants’ return to the office.

The partnership will allow Boston-based HqO and London-founded Savills to empirically demonstrate which layouts, amenities and workplace programs drive employee engagement and maximize the returns on investment in office space, according to the announcement shared exclusively with Commercial Observer.

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“This partnership is all about figuring out how clients in North America, predominantly the occupier, are struggling to figure out the future of the workplace in terms of, ‘How do we return people in a way that matches the reality of what is a permanent change and how employees need to work?’ ” said Chase Garbarino, co-founder and CEO at HqO. “We’re leveraging our technology and a lot of their brain power and services to bring not just one feature or product, but a holistic solution to occupiers to understand the connection between space and people.”

The idea is to more scientifically come up with products and approaches for functionally different spaces, which can vary from ​client-facing sales to predominantly customer support to an engineering office, said Garbarino. By doing so, other products and approaches might fall by the wayside, despite their popularity.

“Historically, we’ve been in a monoculture about the office — the whole ‘Everybody goes open layout’ because it was quote, unquote, more democratic,” he said. “It’s a nice sentiment, but I don’t know if that layout is best.”

As for Savills, the global company plans to use HqO’s workplace data to hone its tenant-focused services, said Sarah Dreyer, executive vice president for information, technology and digital strategy at Savills.

“Savills’ modern and differentiated approach to translating data and market intelligence into actionable insights for occupiers across the globe, coupled with HqO’s position as a proven leader in the tenant experience space, makes this strategic alliance mutually beneficial for both parties,” Dreyer said. “We work with a number of partners from a data perspective, whether it’s understanding markets or talents or labor.

“But we view this partnership as opening a new dimension into occupier experience, and wanting to understand this is top of mind for every single client that we are talking with right now. So this is adding to the depth of occupier-focused data that we have to help our clients make the best decisions.”

Going forward, HqO and Savills hope to also further examine and quantify occupier employees’ workplace needs in a growing hybrid environment.

“We collect data on not just certain specific things about how the office is used, but hybrid work and working from a third location,” said Garbarino. “Ultimately, the full journey of whatever physical environment in which the employee is doing work and how they’re supported.

“The concept of the workplace has evolved beyond just the four walls of the lease, which is critical to understand the full journey of the employee,” he added. “If we talk in six months, nine months, whatever the number is, it’s going to be interesting to see how companies start to operate because they’re just picking their heads up to how monumentally the physical environment affects the behavior of employees and what that means for productivity. I think the most exciting piece of this is how we start to define workspace beyond a traditional lease.”

Philip Russo can be reached at prusso@commercialobserver.com.