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Francis Aquino on Honey LA & Santa Barbara, and what's next for the workplace

Francis honey SB

In Southern California’s rapidly growing tech sector, Francis Aquino is a leader in creating inspirational, cutting-edge facilities to attract the best talent. We sat down with Francis to discuss our recent collaborations for Honey in LA and Santa Barbara, and talk about what’s next for the evolving workplace.

hat led you to decide to work with Pivot on the Honey projects?

Francis Aquino: It was clear from the very beginning that the Pivot team listened to what the team at Honey wanted. From the team’s availability during the showroom tours, to the extensive product knowledge, to the project goals and budget, Pivot’s team understood and ran with it right away.

We felt like we were the only client that Pivot has.

Did Pivot meet Honey’s expectations, and yours?

Everyone who worked on the project was excellent. Tallie was with me every step of the way. She had answers to all my questions, she had alternative options to furniture pieces that we wanted but couldn’t afford, and she was available all the time. We felt like we were the only client that Pivot has.

With the volume of products and settings needed to furnish 130K square feet of offices, the Honey team and the executives were very happy with the workplaces Pivot helped us create in LA and Santa Barbara.

Honey SB Booths 002c
Booths at Honey Santa Barbara are adorned with playful patterns

What are you working on these days?

I have been training and learning from different workplace professionals on how to safely re-open the offices. There are a lot of unknown factors for the post COVID workplace - this is uncharted territory. Most of us have experienced a shutdown of our offices for nearly a year, so workplace design and planning leaders are coming together to create new benchmarks and best practices.

What are you hearing from your network about a return to the office? What are people missing, and do they want to go back to working in a shared office environment?

The workplace professionals I have spoken with all agree that the office is not going away, and that there will definitely be a hybrid of work from home and on-site experience. Most employees are missing the in-person interaction, relationship building, and collaboration. So, there is definitely anticipation of being back in the office. But there is also a new understanding that we can effectively work from home or work remotely.

Honey LA Nook
Nooks at Honey LA are outfitted with sound-absorbing materials to tame noise and distractions.

Research is showing that most employees would prefer a hybrid work plan going forward, working a few days from home and a few days in the office each week. How do you envision the workplace shifting to accommodate the new ways of working?

The Hybrid set up is definitely the way to go. After the workforce abruptly shifted to working from home, there has been that realization that we can actually do it, and for many people it works surprisingly well. Still, some work and some workers will be better suited to the office. The key will be finding the right combination of technologies to facilitate and streamline this new hybrid work style. Video meetings, online file sharing, room booking software for working in the office. Keeping that flexibility with the option to work from home some days will be beneficial - not just for the employees, but for the companies as well.

Honey SB bookable 2
A breakout space at Honey's Santa Barbara office can be booked with a mobile app.

If amenities like shared dining areas, coffee bars, game rooms or gyms aren’t available, what will companies do to attract Gen-Z talent? What will compel them to come to the office, or make them want to work for one company over another?

People are social beings. There is a need for in person social interaction and collaboration. I think this is what would bring employees back to the office. We just need to make sure that our office is designed well to suit the changing needs of the workforce.

When I partnered with Pivot on our furniture selection for the Honey HQ, we made sure that the office feels like home, that there is an abundance of areas to collaborate and be social. Or to work quietly, privately, heads down. A company’s ability to provide options for employees to work and be productive will make the biggest difference on why employees would choose one company over another.

honey LA setting with lounge setting and shared workspaces
Varied work settings at Honey's LA office