A COVID-19 Virtual Ideation Experience
The corporate real estate community must come together to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19. This is your call to action.
The CoreNet Global Hackathon provides a compelling opportunity to ideate with peers across the globe to 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.
Many corporate real estate professionals, together with companies’ HR, IT, and leadership teams, are already taking extraordinary steps to slow the spread of the disease, protect the health and safety of employees and customers, support workers and help companies survive the turbulence. But what will workers return to when the virus subsides? Certainly not old habits or business as usual.
And that is why bold leadership is needed.
We are in the midst of a massive, unplanned global work experiment. For companies that have well-established business continuity plans, this will test the viability of those strategies. For those that do not, it has forced a new normal. Companies that were reluctant to embrace remote work before may now be seeing it as a viable option. Corporate real estate professionals must rethink how they operate their facilities; their cleaning protocols; the design of their workspace; the tools workers need to do their jobs; and how to provide for the health and safety of their work environments.
And yet, they must also consider the other major forces of change that were already underway -- AI, automation, the gig economy, IoT, proptech, climate change – and not miss opportunities to explore them as part of their post-pandemic response.
COVID-19 will have a lasting effect on where, when and how work gets done moving forward. Crisis can be a catalyst for change – or an accelerant. Crisis is a disruptor that also affords an opportunity to innovate. Catastrophic events including terrorist attacks, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, disease outbreaks, cyberattacks, and civil unrest have taught us about the importance of contingency planning. Most of those plans and risk mitigation strategies have traditionally focused on a localized response, not a global one.
No one was truly prepared for a globe-spanning pandemic. No one is fully prepared for what could come next. What will be the lasting lessons from COVID-19 and the shutdowns that have paralyzed communities and economies everywhere?
A hackathon, by definition, is a group of individuals convening to solve problems collectively and within a short, defined period of time. All teams are asked to address and take into consideration issues surrounding diversity and inclusion and how they might factor into your solution for the topic you are working on. Interested members are encouraged to register to participate in the experience and select which topic they would most like to tackle from the following:
1. Space Utilization &Metrics
Corporate real estate (CRE) metrics have traditionally focused on cost and efficiency. Yet an organization’s most valuable resource is its people. Will COVID-19 reverse the trend of reducing square footage per employee and shift the focus from space-centric measurements to human-centric measurements? Or will companies place greater priority on reducing expenses? Further, will the significant business disruptions and prolonged uncertainty ushered in by COVID-19 bring transformational change in companies’ leasing strategies?
Challenge: Develop key forecasts and recommendations for corporate real estate professionals as they address how the pandemic will impact space utilization and metrics going forward.
2. Distributed Work
With government-issued orders to shelter in place across the globe – and corporations shutting offices – employees have been sent home. We are now conducting a worldwide experiment in remote working. What will this experiment reveal? Will it transform workplace strategy? Will companies that were reluctant to embrace remote work before now see it as a viable option? Or will employees be eager to return to their workplaces and be in the physical space with their colleagues again? Will the employer see greater value in one over the other and what may prevail? And will it result in corporations using less traditional real estate?
Challenge: Develop key forecasts and recommendations for corporate real estate professionals as they address how the pandemic will impact where we work going forward.
3. Workplace Wellbeing
Given the catastrophic loss of life from COVID-19, will wellbeing no longer be a ‘nice-to-have’ and instead become a ‘must-have’? What new protocols around wellbeing, mindfulness and enhancing health and safety should be introduced into the workplace? What becomes of our willingness to be in common spaces, and will people and companies be reluctant to use coworking spaces and shared office settings as part of their real estate and workplace needs? Will this be the end of benching and other solutions without partitions (e.g., protection) from others around us? What steps should be taken in the event of a COVID-19 recurrence?
Challenge: Develop forecasts and key recommendations for corporate real estate professionals that address these challenges and respond to wellbeing in the workplace going forward.
4. The Autonomous Workplace
It is more crucial than ever to leverage the power of technology to ensure health and safety in the workplace. Already, automation is filling some of the gaps. But when the risks of COVID-19 diminish, will automation have replaced some jobs for good? The answer is likely complicated and differs by industry. Will COVID-19 be the catalyst for more rapid development of the autonomous workplace, where we truly leverage the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and the internet of things (IoT)?
Challenge: Develop forecasts and key recommendations for corporate real estate professionals that address these challenges and the role of technology going forward.
5. Environment and Climate Change
Climate change, environmental degradation, and the growing prevalence of historic wildfires and catastrophic flooding, for example, pose major challenges to our world. Business, as usual, is no longer acceptable. The built environment – coupled with daily commuting and how and where we work – is a major contributor to climate change. How can corporate real estate professionals take a leadership role in helping their companies solve what is becoming an existential crisis? Will there be a lasting impact of the COVID-19 lockdown and forthcoming health and safety protocols and practices on the environment and climate change?
Challenge: Develop forecasts and key recommendations for corporate real estate professionals that address how the pandemic – and the built environment’s response to it – will impact climate change going forward.
6. Manufacturing & Industrial
With COVID-19 first becoming a serious challenge in China – “the world’s factory” – companies around the globe were faced with closure or reduced operations due to lack of raw materials and manufactured goods. Will the crisis prompt manufacturing companies to carry out a top-to-bottom review of their global supply chains with an eye toward reducing risks? Will manufacturing return to areas that lost factories to lower-cost production sites? Will regulatory and competitive environments shift, opening up new production opportunities in countries that have been off the radar? Will countries and locations with better overall pandemic readiness make the shortlist for the next new factory, even if they’re less competitive on costs? And will governments begin to offer new financial incentives to attract industrial jobs and investments as they see opportunities to capture projects that might have previously gone offshore and enable a more stable, controllable supply chain?
Challenge: Develop forecasts and key recommendations for corporate real estate professionals that address how the pandemic will impact the supply chain, stockpiles, and manufacturing going forward.
As a community, we need to build community with and for those seeking tangible solutions and guidance. We need to bring together diverse teams to tackle these issues and produce meaningful output to share broadly.
HOW WILL IT WORK?
Registration opens beginning April 13. The registration process will close on April 17. There is no fee to participate. When registering, please indicate a first, second and third topic choice.
In addition, please consider encouraging non-members from within or outside your companies around the world (HR and IT professionals, economic developers, physicians, behavioral scientists, economists, etc.) whom you believe could contribute meaningful thought leadership to this exercise. They can also register to participate at the link provided.
Diversity of thought will be a key ingredient in producing creative solutions. CoreNet Global will populate teams with an eye toward achieving diversity and with representation from different geographies, job positions, and market sectors. Each team’s response should consider the impact of its recommendations in different markets and market sectors around the world. Participants will be divided into groups of 6-8. There may be multiple teams per topic.
The CoreNet Global Hackathon will take place virtually over a period of two weeks from May 11- May 22. Groups will convene virtually as needed on a platform provided by the team leader. Teams are asked to submit a written response for how they would address the stated challenge in 1,500 words or less. A maximum of ten supporting images or ppt slides may also be submitted. A submission portal will be provided.
April 13 - Registration Opens
April 17 – Registration deadline
April 20 – Teams announced
April 20 - May 7 – Teams meet virtually as needed
May 8 – Deadline to submit responses
May 11-12 – Team submissions posted
May 11 - May 22 – Facilitated roundtable discussions with team leaders on each topic
May 27 - May 30 – Summary reports released
Opportunities are available for Thought Leadership Sponsorships that enable a sponsoring company to lead a team and support the overall hackathon experience. Contributing Sponsorships are also available for those who want to support the initiative.
In addition, CoreNet Global’s local chapters are also encouraged to lead local teams and participate.