29 March 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Occupiers' real estate priorities are increasingly focused on introducing efficiency gains and enhancing workplace strategies in a quest to make space work smarter, says the 2017 CBRE European Occupier Survey.
Companies that have pulled through recession and managing recovery in recent years say they regard greater use of technology as the key enabler of these objectives.
The report, which identified the goals, future challenges and workplace strategy of occupiers also stated:
- 64 per cent of companies cited economic uncertainty as a major challenge to their future operations.
- The desire for collaboration between customers, colleagues and co-workers is still the top driver of workplace strategy, cited by 65 per cent of occupiers.
- 50 per cent of recipients view technology as a component of successful flexible working strategy.
- 70 per cent had sought to reduce costs over the past year by introducing efficiency measures in their existing space.
The overriding challenge for businesses is economic uncertainty, which is up by six percentage points to 64 per cent, and is more than 30 percentage points higher than any other response this year. Political developments will have undoubtedly played a part in this, specifically uncertainty over the timing and terms of Brexit, and the changing policy regime in the US.
Corporate real estate (CRE) goals focus on two clear elements: cost-reduction and strategic alignment between real estate and wider business aims. Both were mentioned as essential by around 90 per cent of companies. Talent attraction is not far behind, with 77 per cent citing this is as a key goal of CRE.
The main influences on corporates' location strategies are high-quality labour and skills, and cost management. Of those who highlighted these factors, 78 per cent regard labour and skills as essential, or somewhat essential. The corresponding figure for cost was 86 per cent, with business alignment at 64 per cent.
Richard Holberton, EMEA head of occupier research at CBRE, said: "Corporates are faced with the challenge of balancing multiple objectives that may not always be mutually reinforcing. High-levels of economic uncertainty, combined with the need to balance cost-management with strategic alignment, frame the landscape that occupiers are working in. So the focus is very heavily on securing efficiencies and refining workplace strategies within the existing corporate footprint. Finding optimal solutions across key strategic objectives will require a more activist and innovative approach and a willingness to experiment."
When it comes to Workplace Strategy, the desire for collaboration between customers, colleagues and co-workers is still the top driver, cited by 65 per cent of occupiers, followed by cost (61 per cent) and business flexibility (47 per cent). The most important feature in the eyes of the labour force is indoor environmental quality according to 66 per cent of companies, while flexible working practices and the provision of amenities are also highly rated. Wellness programmes are also becoming more wide-ranging, with 72 per cent of businesses stating some level of preference for WELL-certified buildings.