C&W/CNG study: Corporations following talent to urban settings

by Brianna Crandall — November 30, 2016 — A new survey comparing the priorities of corporate CEOs and corporate real estate (CRE) executives has identified a strong trend in which corporations are locating facilities and offices away from suburban business parks and to central business districts (CBDs) and creative urban settings.

Out of the more than 250 survey respondents, representing a spectrum of industries from North America, Europe and Asia, a full 56% of financial services firms and 46% of technology, media and telecommunications firms reported they were migrating back toward urban settings. In North America, 40% of the firms surveyed preferred a CBD compared to 24% that preferred a suburban park. These trends were similar across Europe and Asia.

Tim Venable, senior vice president of CoreNet Global, stated:

In addition to these survey findings, we have learned from talking with end-users (occupiers) of corporate real estate that the need for access to talent is driving the return to urban areas/cities. That is where the prized young technology workers prefer to live and work.

Tamás Polster, co-head of Strategic Consulting, EMEA, Cushman & Wakefield, added:

Corporations have to simultaneously address an increasingly complex talent agenda whilst remaining under sustained cost pressure. The surprisingly high rate of agile workplace adoption is addressing the need of employers to provide more central offices besides a more engaging environment and keeping cost down by better space utilization.

Globally, cost is the leading driver of location decision-making, followed by public transportation and the availability of talent.

In the workplace itself, agile or innovative approaches to work are taking over, with 60% of firms in North America, 89% of firms in Europe, and 78% of firms in Asia introducing or testing new concepts, including desk-sharing, collaborative and co-working spaces.

Other conclusions reached in the survey:

  • CRE budget ownership and centralization is the factor that drives alignment with the overall corporate strategy.
  • Co-working is seen as a fundamental element of portfolio strategy by 20% of the respondents.
  • A modern workplace is increasingly seen as critical for attracting and retaining talent.

The survey was conducted in early 2016 by international real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield and CoreNet Global, the worldwide professional association for CRE executives in multinational corporations.