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Occupier Outlook

Jun 30, 2023

5 Key Topics Shaping CRE Conversations

From our Total Cost of Occupancy Thought Leader Partner, CBRE

CBRE Global Workplace Solutions (GWS) helps 37.4 million people at more than 200,000 sites do their best work.

As CBRE manages and optimizes the world’s largest portfolio of commercial real estate, the quarterly Occupier Outlook highlights key observations garnered from active conversations with our global occupier clients to deliver actionable insights for corporate real estate (CRE) leaders.

1 | Beyond the C-suite’s hybrid messaging

Hybrid work remains a high-visibility initiative across enterprises and many C-suite executives place the adoption of these models as a high priority for CRE teams. In addition, CRE leaders are simultaneously asked to optimize the portfolio and budget, determine areas of investment and contraction and address enterprise-level imperatives such as cost reduction and sustainability commitments.

As global events have transformed the way enterprises operate, businesses now demand more from their real estate footprint and CRE leaders are working to address key priorities within their sectors:

Tech, Media & Telecom
Connecting the office’s purpose to company culture continues to lead in most organizations’ strategies. Creating environments that foster innovation and connection are top priorities.

Financial & Professional Services
CRE organizations are realizing that they need to “earn the commute” and deliver exceptional workplace experiences when teams arrive to the office. Re-onboarding of employees and training managers on the importance of being present is a key objective for both CRE teams and HR/People teams.

Health systems are re-evaluating their go-to-market strategies, focusing on portfolio optimization and reducing capital deployment for clinical and administrative facilities.

Life Sciences
Scientific research sites are becoming more collaborative—with strong focus on experience, productivity and resiliency.

Learn more about creating an employee-friendly RTO strategy

The Return-to-Office Checklist

2 | RTO strategies require more than office perks to gain traction

As efforts to magnetize employees to return to the office—ranging from one-off tactics to full-scale change management programs—continue to be deployed in 2023, utilization rates provide evidence of their efficacy. CBRE has distilled best practices from our global clients into four themes.

We’re seeing the greatest success among clients that have clearly established return-to-office plans that consider employee feedback, whereas undefined plans are leading to negative sentiment from employees.

Lenny Beaudoin Executive Managing Director, Workplace, Design & Occupancy, Americas Consulting
  1. Articulate clear RTO goals
    Company leaders are facing a major challenge as they plan for a hybrid return to the office: how to communicate their goals and timelines to employees while also motivating them to come back. Workforce communications should be empathetic, engaging and encouraging.
  2. Use technology to enhance virtual and in-person work and experiences
    Standardizing technology is integral to any RTO goal. Tech should make the office feel inspiring, comfortable and accessible to everyone, regardless of location. People can be more effective if tech enables anytime/anywhere productivity, simplifies and guides the office experience and facilitates dynamic occupancy management.
  3. Offer training to make the most of hybrid work
    RTO success goes beyond just having more people in the office; it helps drive participation and belief in company culture. Executive leaders should create the vision and establish company-wide goals, while managers should drive the execution, empowered with tools to help their teams to reach those objectives. Managers also need guidance on how to support employees personally and professionally as they shift to a new way of working.
  4. Measure office utilization and design offices to reflect how employees actually use the space
    An organization can ensure long-term RTO success by understanding employee work habits and how they utilize space. Analyzing usage data can highlight what types of environments lead to the most productivity, while also informing future occupancy spending. Maximizing the productivity of every square foot requires measuring employee usage and sentiment, leveraging data and using it to enhance the employee experience over time.

Discover strategies for making carbon-reduction goals a reality

Decarbonizing Commercial Real Estate

3 | Rapidly evolving climate disclosure regulations would force alignment

Many organizations have CRE teams taking ownership of the sustainability goals and innovating on best approaches to decarbonization. With a backdrop of new and potential regulations across Europe and the United States, CRE leaders are already moving quickly to contribute to their company’s sustainability commitments. Many CBRE clients are making progress toward decarbonization goals:

  • 38% Of CBRE GWS enterprise clients have made net-zero commitments
  • 13% Have carbon neutrality goals
  • 36% Have strategies in place to meet their carbon reduction goals

4| Automation going mainstream

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) such as ChatGPT has captured significant attention. As a result, CRE leaders are seeking proven automation investments that can accelerate near-term outcomes and serve as new sources of data-driven insights.

While venture capital interest has increased substantially, generative AI technology is still at a very early stage:

Image of bar graph

Source: CB Insights, 2023.

See what else is on the horizon for CRE organizational design in 2023.

CRE organizational design

5 | Team reorganizations continue

Changing enterprise goals combined with the importance of operational efficiency are requiring CRE leaders to adjust and integrate their processes with precision.

CBRE and CoreNet Global’s most recent research study, Managing Corporate Real Estate, found that 59% of CRE leaders anticipate near-term organizational changes to their team structures. In fact, 35% anticipate upskilling their internal organizations, while over one-quarter of leaders plan to restructure their teams for better focus on current priorities.

Some CRE organizations are truly undergoing transformation: Incremental change is not their story. Don’t start with your org chart. Real change begins with building the internal change muscle across your organization’s culture.

Su-Zette Sparks Organizational Design, Change & Transformation Practice Leader, Americas Consulting

Evolution of skills
Workplace strategy is now the number one new or different skill in demand for CRE teams, up 15% from last year’s survey. Change management, portfolio planning and reporting and analytics are also skills in high demand within internal CRE teams.

Centralization of CRE responsibilities
Approximately 78% percent of respondents noted CRE’s management structure is either primarily or completely centralized, consistent with last year’s study. Property types least likely to be centralized under CRE’s management include manufacturing, data centers and retail.

CoreNet Global