The role of corporate real estate in a flexible work environment

Feb 23, 2021

Historically, corporate real estate (CRE) has been primarily concerned with managing the physical property of an organization. Certainly, cost-effectiveness, lease management, and facility management still remain at the core of industry operations, however, the business landscape is rapidly changing. It is becoming more flexible and virtual which in turn is causing the role of CRE to evolve. Now more than ever, the role of CRE is viewed as a strategic asset to help win and retain talented employees and to assist in maintaining their well-being.
Beyond just the bricks and mortar of buildings, CRE is now a much broader practice and as a result, real estate executives and managers need to ensure their skills meet this reality. CRE now includes dimensions like social responsibility, sustainability, and innovative workplace designs aimed at improving worker productivity and wellbeing. A key consideration we see emerging is the concept of flexibility.
In today’s highly transparent job market, it is essential for organizations to focus on their brand image, especially when it comes to employee experience. CRE plays an important role in attracting and retaining top talent by creating positive employee experiences. Executives are now embracing digital technologies to reinvent the employee experience, whether at home or in the office, and realizing that without a strong employee culture, organizations will not succeed to their fullest potential.
The role of corporate real estate - Inline
Not that long ago, we assumed employees would work in any typical office environment; but a generational shift has been underway and we are now realizing that we must create a “place” where people want to work. This concept has evolved from simply providing a desk and a chair, to a more inclusive approach that addresses emotional, intellectual, physical, and virtual needs – among others.
This shift in “traditional” work to “flexible” work ideologies is one of the main reasons that a strategic investment in corporate real estate is now so vital. Flexibility can manifest in a facility’s workspaces, locations, and decisions that employees make throughout their day about how to work. More and more organizations are building cultures that allow for flexible working hours, as well as flexible work locations based on the employee’s needs. This creates a new set of requirements for the flexibility and adaptability of an office environment.
“Many companies now view catered meals, onsite healthcare, attractive office spaces, modern technology, and flexible work programs as strategic business initiatives. These experiences are becoming part of a company’s culture and ultimately their brand.” (Runstad Department of Real Estate, 2016)
In summary, a flexible work environment is not only represented by the physical office space but also in the components of ergonomic design, personal space, and the work culture. Once organizations realize that flexible workplaces and workspaces are now essential, then a real estate strategy that focuses on providing those components will support the company’s core strategy and add immediate and future value. CRE should be thought of as more than just managing the bricks and mortar, and instead be considered more as a comprehensive and critical component of meeting an organization's goals and objectives.
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Authored by:
Alex Claro
Alex Sequeira Claro
Real Estate Manager, Work Styles

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