Over the last two years, we have interviewed 2,000+ Future of Work Pioneers who have shared their insights into new work paradigms. Today we feature Amanda Augustine as part of our series. Enjoy!
Amanda Augustine serves as a Director of Client Delivery in the Global real estate practice and is based out of the firm’s Chicago headquarters. DHR is one of the largest retained executive search and leadership consulting firms worldwide.
In her role, Amanda is responsible for the creation and implementation of search strategies for public or private real estate owners, operators, developers, investors, partners, capital providers, and/or financial services organizations.
With an extensive background in relationship management and communications, Amanda brings a well-rounded, thoughtful, approach to executive search. She started at DHR in 2016 working with the investor relations and corporate communications group. She has since added to her portfolio by partnering directly with the Global Head of Real Estate in 2017 and leading searches within the real estate practice. Along with her recruiting efforts, Amanda, works with the internal Human Resources team training, retaining, and managing new hires at DHR and Jobplex.
Prior to the executive search, Amanda was a manager of C-suite relationships at a boutique consulting firm in Chicago, while starting her career in sales and business enablement.
Amanda is a member of the NAIOP Chicago Chapter as a Developing Leader. She has received numerous awards including the DHR Excellence Award, Top Researcher, 75 and Sunny, and guest speaking on the DHR Global Chief Executive Officer’s Sourcing Inspiration Podcast Series. Amanda also held a chair seat on the North American Associates Committee, a peer-nominated committee, until April 2023. Amanda graduated from the Illinois Institute of Art with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing.
I think the Future of Work is…
The future of work is consistent adaptability. In a way, I believe we’ve been battle-tested, as a society, for this type of evolutionary workplace change. Since the early phases of the dot com bubble, our increased growth has created the ability for people to learn differently, teach differently, and interact differently. What this shift has also done is give us access to “offline” engagement with one another. The idea of linking trust, communication, and results with your colleague, boss, partner, or even personal relations is now often regulated by a virtual outcome versus a physical response.
"In my view, productivity, presence, and balance in the workplace is just now catching up."
What were the top three challenges you faced when Covid-19 began in 2020?
- Understanding how to realign your actual and perceived value.
Hybrid work models can showcase a line of deception when synchronizing work ethic, style, and drive on deliverables. From my experience, it is quite important to personally align what value you want to create within your team dynamic by also proving that value through intentional efforts. As it relates to business, cost is much different than value - just as it is in supply and demand. Think of your actual and perceived value as a recurring entry point to your current position and future professional progression.
- Still getting your “human fix”.
I am a firm believer in employee engagement and creating a culture of commitment. What the Covid-19 Pandemic has proven to employers is how malleable employees can be in a space of unique, and sometimes unprecedented, circumstances. Check, we can trust without physical presence but with that trust can we still effectively maintain the disciplines to ensure results? The ultimate source of commitment comes from a collaborative environment, exchange of knowledge, and blending of different thoughts and ideas.
- People do not decide their future, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures. Creating atomic habits:
- The impact of small habits.
- How are your current habits being formed and how do they translate to accomplishing your goals?
- Making habits attractive for your continued personal performance.
- Building new habits and being adaptable to those new developments.
What are the top three most influential decisions you’ve made over the past two years with respect to hybrid or flexible work?
- Be present and listen keenly;
- Be solution-oriented; and
- Never hide behind your thoughts/ideas
How do you view office footprint needs in the future?
Our human resource leaders are really taking charge of future office space and its real estate footprint.
"In years past HR has been viewed as a “back office” requirement for headcount control. Now, these same seats are hosting business partners, servant leaders, and strategic visionaries."
The CHRO (Chief Human Resource Officer) and CPO (Chief People Officer) leaders are, in some cases, blended into one position serving human capital in ways that pursue our movement towards higher-level engagement with team members.
How has the return to work been? What results have you seen after going back and achieving goals while balancing employee experience?
As a highly involved real estate executive recruiter I have a lens into large, medium, and small sized firms (public or private) looking to make an organizational impact. I am brought in as a third-party service to help build leadership teams. The real estate industry has been constructed from relationship management, branding, and thinking like an owner. Like most industries, real estate also felt the impression Covid-19 left on the world. Having to downsize or restructure divisions to mitigate risk on future business initiatives. However, unlike some other industries real estate business leaders took time to reevaluate their firm’s infrastructure.
"The realizations were such that office space is essential for production and year-over-year growth. However, what does that look like now? "
From my vantage point, I have seen employers use buzzwords to keep people excited about the commitment to office time. As I mentioned in my opening statement - consistent adaptability. People want to know whether their time is valued in or out of the office. There has also been an increase in implementing digital tools to support a more flexible working style while also providing the organization with data to monitor employee performance. Digital transformation is necessary in all lines of business, even ones such as real estate that lean heavily on human interaction. Lastly, aligning skill sets properly to best optimize employee engagement, communication, and overall performance. Our senior business leaders are thinking about culture but also thinking about the improvement of talent. Taking the steps to confirm your employees are still sitting in the right seat will show a level of support but also give them the instrument to think about their own contributions to the bottom line.
What does the purpose and vision for an ‘office’ look like from your perspective in the next five years?
When we think about a business, traditionally, it is about the product or solution it can provide us. Office space has been used as the fuel behind product development and communication with internal and external stakeholders.
"However, looking at the future of the workplace ecosystem I believe employers are committing to the office as a place we want to go and not have to go."
In a way, it's a “hybrid work from your company’s office” mindset. There will be a lot more shared spaces, blended meeting rooms, and access to different settings where the employee may feel most productive.
What is one tip you’d give to your peers or have you learned from your peers?
“When no one is looking, work harder on what you know little about.”
Whether you are currently working in a hybrid model or back in the office full time – we need to remain focused on the end goal of our own professional development.
Can you share one prediction for the Future of Work that you’d strongly bet on?
Thinking about the Future of Work, I believe we will continue to mold into a hybrid workspace model. However, the way it develops in any division, group, or company will be determined by the outcomes of productivity.
"We will need to continue down the path of least resistance by providing shared resources in the form of technology, data, and talent engagement."