Community//

“Learning and improving” With Tyler Gallagher & Francesca Loftus

We need to drastically reduce the cost of education and encourage co-ops and in-job trainings as secondary education equivalents. There is a wall between work and education in the US, as if learning and doing are completely different things. Largely, in my opinion, due to the fact that we pay to educate ourselves and get paid to work. Companies […]

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We need to drastically reduce the cost of education and encourage co-ops and in-job trainings as secondary education equivalents. There is a wall between work and education in the US, as if learning and doing are completely different things. Largely, in my opinion, due to the fact that we pay to educate ourselves and get paid to work. Companies benefit greatly from an environment where employees are curious and hungry to take on new skills, but the way education is marketed and structured here, disincentivizes curiosity and cultivates fear around asking questions.


As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Francesca Loftus.

Francesca is co-founder and CEO of hOM, a community management platform for commercial and residential landlords. Formerly, she brought Europe’s largest start-up network, Techmeetups.com to five cities in North America, and ran a 14Ksqft performing arts space in New York City. Francesca was offered a position on Feed The Children’s board of problem-solvers at age 12, starred in Oscar Winner Julianne Moore’s Broadway Show, Freckleface and represented Canada in an array of mathematics competitions, garnering her a full-ride to University for Finite Mathematics. She is a graduate of MetaProp, the premiere real estate tech accelerator based in NYC. Recognized for her work as a founder and thought leader, she was nominated this year for Top Founder at MIPIM and is two years’ running listed as CRETech’s top female influencers. iamhom.com


Thank you so much for doing this with us Francesca! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Myco-founder, Ryan Freed’s mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given 1 year to live. She extended that prediction by 7 years through wellness practices, and we set out on a mission to bring wellness to people in the most convenient way: directly to them where they work and live.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Early-on in the company, when I think we only had 3 buildings we were working with, we engaged a lawyer and surprisingly, she lived in one of our buildings. As our success snowballed and we onboard more and more clients it’s been exciting explaining to people what I do and finding out that they actually live or working a hOM building and hearing the effect our services have had on their sense of community and wellbeing. When we joined an accelerator, one of the partners happened to live in a hOM building, when one of my schoolmates from high school relocated to New York for work, her new office turned out to be a hOM building, even our new realtor surprisingly works out of a hOM building!

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We use our company as a pilot-community for testing new products we can offer landlords to engage their communities. We’ve been offering fitness classes and monthly tenant events as services but we’re launching smaller scale programs like lobby-popups and digital experiences. Data shows they’ve been effective with our team, so I can’t wait to launch them and get data from our landlord’s communities. Last year we engaged the services of Kara Polk, an Industrial and Organizational Psychology PhD- candidate at University of Houston to dissect our employee culture and analyze the most effective and least effective. We saw the average hOM employee took a 15% pay cut to join the company and the average hOM employee wouldn’t migrate for an offer less that double their salary. So, I’d say the community-building has been effective.

Ok, let’s jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

Cost of education creates challenging income demands on employers — The rise of co-working has set a high bar for in-office conveniences and amenities that employers are having a challenge reaching while still managing their bottom-line

Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact

Unhappy employees = increased turnover and no matter how experienced a new hire is, training a new employee is a huge sink of resources. High turnover creates unnecessary strain on hiring teams, in client communication and slows new initiatives. A lack of senior employees greatly diminishes diversity in problem-solving and lessens the general sense of team confidence.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

1. Encouraging creativity for creativity’s sake. Engaging teams in creativity exercises that are not rooted in coming to a solution (a brainstorm around a real problem is not a creativity exercise, think stream of consciousness writing or drawing) can take 10 minutes of your team’s time and benefit productivity and creative problem-solving for weeks.

2. Celebrating great questions (especially if it up-ends existing processes).

3. Defining soft-skill requisites in job descriptions

4. Sticking to a regular cadence of formal transparency talks / success check-ins that are linked to time and not events. Aka. “We meet every 3 months”, not “we meet after large failures/success or only when it’s time to talk about a raise”.

5. Define routines around opening & closing meetings, so people can drop-in to team think quicker.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

We need to drastically reduce the cost of education and encourage co-ops and in-job trainings as secondary education equivalents. There is a wall between work and education in the US, as if learning and doing are completely different things. Largely, in my opinion, due to the fact that we pay to educate ourselves and get paid to work. Companies benefit greatly from an environment where employees are curious and hungry to take on new skills, but the way education is marketed and structured here, disincentivizes curiosity and cultivates fear around asking questions.

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

I’m a recovering know-it-all who actively works to limit myself to only speaking through goals and strategy; trusting my team to hash-out process. It’s a huge focus of mine that everyone, internally, sees me as available. Even though it’s counter-intuitive, the feeling trickles down and actually saves me from being involved in every major conversation.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My company has a trio of founders, and together

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I like to think we work differently, and are seeing how far “goodness” can go in serving the bottom-line of a business. So, I wonder what came first, the goodness or the success?

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Once I overheard “I’m glad that’s my fault, so I can fix it” which reminded me of the power in owning any piece you can in failure. Again, to me that harks back to the value of always looking to learn new things. Similar to “A complaint is only a customer’s desire to be loyal”. That same concept translates well to a culture where feedback is encouraged. I’m a pretty picky person generally, and as a manager I find myself only giving constructive feedback when I really care about the work someone is doing, or if I think an employee is particularly capable. Flipping your lens on “complaints” has been massively valuable for my mental well-being. Honestly, if I didn’t care I wouldn’t make the effort to complain, but as the recipient of a complaint, I only see the negative.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!

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