Ledger Stories: Discussing Space as a Service and Workplace Experience with Mary Best

Mar 3, 2022 | Ledger Stories

When you hear space as a service, what comes to mind?

If your answer is co-working, sit back and get ready to think bigger. At Ledger, we’re scaling space as a service to new heights and bringing the shared economy of workspace to Downtown Bentonville.

We sat down with our incredible director of operations and workplace experience, Mary Best. With a passion for hospitality and community, Mary is an expert in creating rich workplace experiences that harmonize work and play. She has transformed the workplace experience for both startups and Fortune 100 companies, and now she’s bringing her diverse background to Ledger.

Here’s Mary’s take on space as a service and how we are shaping the experience at Ledger.

1. What is space as a service?

Space as a service takes the physical component of real estate and leverages it to its fullest potential. It transforms how landlords think about their space, taking it from a one time transaction to a service you’re constantly providing for a customer. Lease and landlord language now intertwines with the level of experience, technology, and amenities that are offered in said space.

2. Tell us how space as a service differs from traditional commercial space.

I wouldn’t say it’s different. It’s a new way of looking at real estate and diversifying its opportunities. It meets the needs of the consumer from the real estate portfolio standpoint. We can no longer think in 7 to 10 year chunks, but we still have to be good stewards of our space and think of how we meet today’s needs without the security net of having a 10-year contract in place with a tenant.

3. What makes Ledger stand out when it comes to space as a service? What makes Ledger’s model different from a co-working space?

Ledger is unique because from a developer’s point of view, we didn’t just go after workplace or just go after commercial or retail. We can have traditional office tenants, retail tenants, and layer in other offerings we create, which is where we leverage our space as a service. Ledger is not leveraging a traditional property management team to service the space. We wanted to keep it in-house so our brand, voice, tone, and experience is managed at a landlord level.

People often want to fit co-working into one box. It has a label like Kleenex has a label. There’s pros and cons to it. Everyone thinks Kleenex is the product, but it’s actually facial tissue. A lot of brands do facial tissue differently to meet different needs. But everyone calls it Kleenex.

Kleenex is to tissue as coworking is to space as a service.

Truly, space as a service is done many different ways and really should be done to meet the needs of that unique community.

4. How is the shared economy of space impacting the way you’re designing Ledger’s membership experience?

I think that when you design shared economies, you have this opportunity to create an equalizer and that’s within your amenities. I can’t dictate what happens in private offices, but in the shared spaces, I can live out the values of wanting to connect people, wanting to have diversity and inclusion. And because everyone buys into this shared economy, everyone has an onus to take part in it.

We reflect the values Bentonville is building towards to be the greatest place to work, live, and play. When we look at our member experience, we think: what do we want work to look like? What do we want play to look like? What do we want live to look like in Bentonville? We build amenities, services, and polices that are reflective of what we want that to be, anchored in the fact that people are volunteering to be a part of this.

5. Tell us how space as a service challenges preconceptions about real estate.

It challenges this thought that landlords don’t value the experience. We have a unique development team that truly wants an immersive, inclusive, diverse experience and won’t settle for anything less. And so, they’re pushing against the status quo and the set it and forget it real estate mindset. Instead, it’s about creating roots, continuing to water, and watch it grow.

6. What role does technology play in bringing space as a service to life at Ledger?

What role does it not play? 

One, you have to have a baseline of being able to do the fundamental job we’re setting out to do. We say you can work here, and technology has to connect you to the space to make that happen.

Then, there’s the level of elevating that experience, and that’s when technology gets fun. That’s when we can make it a frictionless work environment and things can just start to happen. 

It’s intuitive and it’s built into an ecosystem versus thinking of space plus technology. We think of space as a service as only being capable with technology. It’s only capable when multiple people have access to shared spaces when they need them. You need a gatekeeper to those things, and that’s the role technology plays. It’s fundamental.

7. How can the public access Ledger’s on-demand space? And how does it fit into the overall ecosystem?

The best way to leverage our space is to go through our website (app coming soon!) That will constantly be the best way if you need space on-demand, space for an event or meeting, to get work done, to have an office for the day. We’ll have a live marketplace that enables you to pick your adventure when it comes to Ledger’s amenities, parking, mail, everything. It will all be there, and you can just add to your cart.

8. What are you most excited for members and the public to experience at Ledger? What do you hope they feel while they’re in the space?

I am most excited to watch people realize how hungry they are for a collaborative, innovative, and connected work environment. If you’ve never tasted it, you don’t understand what you’re missing out on. I’m super excited to watch people come in and feel the warmth that is Ledger and the team that’s building Ledger. I’m excited for no one to feel left out, and that’s really important to me.

9. Tell us about some of the unique space features and services available to both members and the public.

I think one of our most dynamic spaces is our multi-purpose room. It connects to a catering kitchen and to a bar. That’s when I get geeked out about how we take a space that would traditionally sit quiet from 9-5 every day and unlock the community’s ability to have access to the space.

We’re building this to say members have exclusive acess to some things, but nothing is off limits to the public when it comes to our bookable and event spaces. I long for the day someone comes and says they’re booking a wedding on top of Ledger, or I want to have my rehearsal dinner here. I want to celebrate “fill in the blank”, and I want to book this really cool space. It never has to be centered around work. It can be centered around the life you’re building, and how you want to share that experience with other people.

And that’s the kind of stuff that helps me jump out of bed. I’m not building a siloed experience. I’m truly building a space that anyone can access. 

Anyone who lives here, has been here, understands the sentiment of: until you experience it, you just don’t get how cool NWA is. That’s how I feel about Ledger. Once people come and are immersed in this environment, they’ll see: yes this is it, this is the ethos of NWA inside of a building, inside of a space.

10. Is there anything you’d like to add? 

One of my favorite things about space as a service and the shared economy is having some of our investors and developers on board who have been in real estate for so long and see this as the future. That’s the kind of stuff that makes my little heart smile.

They’re not pushing against it; they’re embracing and developing around it. And that’s unique to Bentonville. That sets us apart. It honestly contradicts everything they’ve done up until this point. Opening up space and shorter commitment terms is not how business has been done in the past. When you hear investors talk about what this building means to them and how they anchor it around the future and what it can be for our community, it’s just special. Which makes it a joy to work with them.

Final Thoughts

Ledger is making space as a service accessible to all, and we can’t wait to welcome you here! If you’d like to learn more about Ledger’s workplace and bookable space options, get in touch today. To get notified when our online access goes live, sign up for our updates below.

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