The Covid-19 pandemics changed the paradigm of office occupancy and, consequently, the requirements that corporate real estate leaders must consider when evaluating long-term and short-term business decisions. A new market report by CBRE explores the approaches that will lead priorities and strategic outcomes for 2021 and beyond.
CBRE experts highlight eight core truths, divided into four main areas – Talent, Location, Occupancy, Design & Experience – that will guide the future of work.
In the Talent field, CBRE states that as teams start returning to the office, their desire for flexibility and freedom of choice, will originate new behaviours, specially in the way people relate with the office space and when they decide to do it (truth 1). Future corporate real estate strategies will not focus entirely on remote work or entirely on office-based work. In fact, they will emphasize the employee’s choice regarding experiences and actions that will allow them to reach a positive work-life balance. This will result in lower office utilisation; however, it does not mean the end of the office. On the contrary, it means a new start that will allow companies to reimagine the office role and its functionality. Additionally, CBRE also states that the workplace will have to be reconsidered according to an hybrid workstyle and more distributed teams (truth 2).
Regarding the Location field, CBRE experts identify that office decentralisation strategies are emerging as a tool to support current employees and attract new ones (truth 3). Office-based employees will choose spaces located in urban centres when they would need to interact with colleagues in an environment that offers them all the amenities and technology necessary to their productivity and collaboration with others. In the remaining times, they will take advantage of a network of locations, especially the ones that are closer to their home. Consequently, the migration to lower-cost locations with better quality-of-life will continue, and in Portugal is very well positioned (truth 4).
In the Occupation area, the new CBRE market report states that, even in an uncertainty environment, companies with good planning skills will stay ahead of their competitors in the current real estate market (truth 5). Additionally, flexibility solutions will allow companies to easily adapt their space utilisation strategies and employees’ feeling towards the flexible office space is growing more and more positive (truth 6). In fact, many occupiers are already using flexible office spaces as a part of a corporate strategy that allows them to maximise their long-term commitments and, at the same time, minimise the risk of having too much, or too little, office space as headcount fluctuates. The implementation of flexible approaches allows companies to stay agile, towards the current economic context and new working methods.
Finally, in the Design & Experience field, CBRE study identifies the new workspace a key factor to ensure the well-being, productivity, and commitment of employees, that will be more geographically dispersed (truth 7). Therefore, companies will need to manage change and drive innovation, to serve the needs of a more flexible workforce, at the same time supporting the achievement of strategic goals. This means the alignment between design & experience and the requirements of a flexible workforce. In addition, digital technologies will create smarter and more efficient buildings and, at the same time, improve employees’ experience, mainly through the creation of more safe and healthy workplaces (truth 8). Consequently, measurement, monitorisation and visualisation of information about health and safety is a crucial factor when considering the return to the office. Some digital applications that allow, for example, the scheduling of health screenings, booking spaces or contactless experiences, are growing in relevance and sophistication and are being considered as an essential part of the employees’ experience.
In conclusion, CBRE report reinforces that commercial real estate’s contributions to strategic business outcomes will be more evident and essential than ever before.