Businesses biggest challenge remains demonstrating the value of being together
Whilst West Ham sought to lift their first European trophy since 1965; we gave a group of real estate thinkers 90-minutes, to pass this question (and more) around a table. Unsurprisingly, the discussion headed into extra time, lacking the power of action replay, I have attempted to draw on the highlights herein.
Thinking long-term in the face of uncertainty
It’s wrong to assume that occupancy was not a challenge in 2019. Though now, more than ever, it is the challenge that connects everyone in the room: occupier, landlord, service provider and broker. In 2023 the portfolio is required to act as an organism: agile, transformational, enabling, of course – but with the reactions of a cat and the allure of a peacock. The office must be a destination, and despite structural qualifications, todays’ studies focus on behavioural economics, to ensure the workplace experience can complement return-to-office (RTO) policies.
If the portfolio is an organism, then how do we move to outpace evolution. This is the collective goal for property strategy, after all. And one, for which, there is no blueprint. As such, we must pilot –build-measure-learn and loop, in order to evolve. Success here is more easily achieved when businesses have clear identities and objectives, brand values can then be incorporated and integrated within the physical experience – allowing workplace strategy to emanate brand culture, and identity.
It has become a scientific pursuit, and the role data can play is key. But do we have enough, and critically, is it the right information that we are collecting? Billions of data points are being captured with every step we take outside of the office, but we are left with a very limited number once we cross the threshold into our own environment. Therefore, it is likely that an investment is required to capture more tangible data, which can replace opinion as the basis for board level decisions in respect of RTO.
The good news is there are options now. Flexible solutions are growing, and allow businesses to achieve their objectives, enabling and embracing pilots, whilst mitigating risk. Landlords, too, are creating mixed-use environments in recognition of the value of experience. They are also, perhaps, in greatest control of mobilising ESG purpose, which is particularly important as occupiers seek to ensure solutions are sustainable. Good news, also, for employees, for whom flexible working has likely created the greatest benefits of all.
The power shift to employees is not without its challenges, though. If the four-day week is to be adopted more broadly, we create a situation where even fully occupied space is utilised less than 50% of the time. It also does not solve for the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday crew (insert acronym accordingly), who deepen the attendance bell curve, prohibiting office footprint reduction. A force felt in equal measure by large city infrastructure, who are once again struggling with commuter demand on peak travel days. This commuting experience, notwithstanding the cost, is often sighted as the major reason in opting to WFH, as we observe those with short commutes/easy journeys, adopting RTO quicker.
Could the 7-day week, be a solution? It is not to suggest that we increase our workload to meet 24/7 demand, more whether the structure of Monday – Friday is fit-for-purpose. In fact, the corporate world is unique in its’ composition. Construction, transport, leisure, agriculture, health care, tourism (the list goes on) already adopt a 7-day week. No doubt we would need to grow our corporate workforce, but could this structure help to alleviate major city congestion, by flattening the curve? Might it yet increase employment opportunity, or allow for greater flexibility with childcare, boosting household income? It may also help to solve local ecosystems, that are forced to close on weekends whilst the workforce moves out of the city. And from a business perspective, a continuous week may help businesses to achieve objectives faster. It’s blue sky, for sure, but there are merits worth considering here whilst we also review the 4-day week.
Coming back down to earth, for a moment. RTO remains largely unsolved, and mandating is on the rise. What is the driving factor for office attendance? Is RTO the core of the issue, or do we have other issues which we need to plug in? In many companies now, cohorts are fully global, and what purpose does the physical environment serve with no local team to engage with. As real estate, we need to be facilitators, but to facilitate we also need to understand what is the why. It seems the missing piece, for most, is demonstrating the value of being together.
Ultimately, this is our challenge to solve. And the great thing is, CRE is no longer simply considered a cost centre. Our strategic role must incorporate behavioural economics, societal changes, performance optimisation, business objectives, brand values, geographical challenges, elemental habits (and so on), long before we consider which sit-stand desk is closest to the beer tap! In actual fact, real estate must now act less as facilitators, and more as choreographers.
Chris Marriott is a member of CoreNet UK’s SPP Committee.
With thanks to Ann-Marie Onubogu-Opara, Henry Stainton, Mitakshi Sirsi, Richard Golding, Tarun Mather, Sisi Lagrem, Steve Wright, Lamia Zaky, Phil Purves, Matt Bigam, Carolina Seixas, Omar Harb, Will Yorath, Jaspal Singh and Matt Fitzgerald.
LAUNCHING CORENET PODSHOTS!
Our communities team is delighted to present our new Podshot series – featuring industry leading CRE experts discussing the challenges and latest developments in the sector.
Our first podshot features Tim Allen and James Murray, Senior Partner at Bridgepoint discussing hybrid working, culture change and the supply chain challenges they faced moving in to their new London HQ earlier this year.
It’s well worth making a cup of team and having a listen! This area is available to members only and can be found on here.
Keep an eye on our social media channels and website for the latest episodes. #podshot #podcast #CRE #hybridworking #culture #supplychain
Details of the AGM can be found here.
Webinar: Thriving in Remote Settings: Virtual leadership
CoreNet recently hosted a truly fantastic webinar, titled, Thriving in Remote Settings: Virtual leadership. Moderator James Pack was joined by Kirk Vallis (Head of Global Creativity Capability at Google), Major General Tom Copinger-Symes CBE (Director of Military Digitisation, UK Strategic Command), and Mark Davies (Chief Medical Officer at IBM and Watson Health).
Discussing how to manage teams virtually and lead effectively, the speakers shared thought-provoking insights from the medical, technology, and military sectors.
A few of the key takeaways from the session were:
- We can’t apply the same leadership principles to virtual environments that we would apply to ‘face to face’ environments; the world has now changed
- Be aware that everyone approaches a situation from a different point of view and interacts in different ways.
- Leading in a virtual world relies on the relationships and trust created in a physical world, we should be aiming to use the time we are together to fuel up for the time we are apart. This might influence why we gather in physical workspaces Can we make better use of that time?
- Delegate to the point of discomfort; trusting team members but being aware when more direction or motivation is needed.
- Training and learning are now more critical than ever.
A video of the session is available online so make yourself a cup of tea, get comfortable and enjoy – we can promise you, it will be an hour very well spent!
Thank you to all our speakers for their time and insights.
As always, a big thank you to our annual sponsors for their continued support – IWG, IBM, Savills and tp bennett.
A September event to look forward to! CoreNet Global will be hosting EMEA Live – Mission Possible on the 22nd to 23rd of September. Join corporate real estate peers to virtually discuss the latest innovations needed for the future.
The two day event will give attendees access to virtual rooms featuring Learning Experiences, discussion forums, demos, exhibits, and lifestyle activities, including a yoga class! To view the full schedule and for more information on speakers, please visit the event site. Registrations are now open for both members and non-members here.
#EMEALive #CoreNetGlobal #CRE #CorporateRealEstate #VirtualEvent #network #learn #grow #belong
CoreNet Global Hackathon
The UK Chapter was delighted to be involved in the recent CoreNet Global Hackathon. The Hackathon created the opportunity for the corporate real estate community to come together to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and ideate with peers from across the globe to develop collective solutions for the immediate crisis – and beyond. More than 1,000 members participated in CoreNet Global’s COVID-19 Hackathon with representation from 35 countries in 90+ teams. Teams addressed the following areas: 1)Space Utilization and Metrics; 2)Distributed Work; 3)Workplace Wellbeing; 4)The Autonomous Workplace; 5)Environment and Climate Change, and 6)Manufacturing and Industrial.
The UK Chapter was involved in three of the working groups namely:
- The Autonomous Workplace
- Space Utilization and Metrics
- Workplace Wellbeing
These reports can be found on the CoreNet UK website. For reports from all the Hackathon groups, please visit the CoreNet Global website.
Thank you to our annual sponsors, IBM and to the other UK Chapter members who gave up their time to be involved in this process.
CoreNet Global COVID-19 Call to Action: Virtual Hackathon
The corporate real estate community must come together to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19. CoreNet Global is launching a virtual hackathon and we need input from members all over the world.
This is an opportunity to harness the thought leadership from our membership ranks (and beyond) to ideate with peers across the globe and develop collective solutions that go beyond the immediate crisis response – and help ensure the long-term health and well-being of citizens, companies, and communities. The output from the project will help guide the work of our members as we begin to focus on the new normal.
Time is of the essence therefore registration is required by Friday the 17 April. To find out more and to register click here.
#CRE #Hackathon #Idea #Connect #Solve #Present #CorporateRealEstate