A shared-workplace model with greater portfolio agility — one of the “future-proof” strategies CRE executives are using to manage risk

by Brianna Crandall — June 5, 2017 — A new study from commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE reveals that corporate real estate (CRE) executives are bolstering portfolio agility and enhancing user experiences to “future-proof” their real estate against changes in the economy, technology and labor markets.

The report draws upon a survey conducted in partnership with global corporate real estate association CoreNet Global of more than 350 CRE executives who manage commercial real estate assets and operations around the world.

More than half of respondents cited economic uncertainty among their top three concerns, including 52% of respondents from the Americas; 64% in EMEA; and 68% in APAC. For the Americas and EMEA regions, these concerns were up 16 percentage points and 6 percentage points respectively over last year, while in APAC they remained consistent.

Brandon Forde, executive managing director of Advisory and Transaction Services, pointed out:

Enterprise businesses continue to adapt to rising technological capabilities, shifting talent demands, and increasingly complex global supply chains. Sophisticated occupiers seek ways to create flexibility with the goal of “de-risking” their portfolios.

Future-proofing strategies include the adoption of a shared-workplace model — the top reasons for which include: reducing costs (45%), reduced term needs (42%), and increased flexibility (41%).  As they seek greater agility with lower risk, occupiers are simultaneously implementing strategies to improve the occupants’ overall experience within the core workspace.  This includes reinventing or adapting workplace standards (86% in Americas), pursuing WELL-certified buildings (72% in EMEA), and implementing activity-based working (53% in APAC).

Where portfolio shifts were cited, respondents anticipate slightly more expansion over contraction in 11 of 13 global markets. The CRE executives were most bullish on India and China, with more than 30% and 20% respectively predicting net expansion in those countries.  Meanwhile, anticipation of net space contractions was strongest, although muted, in the established markets of Western Europe and North America.

Julie Whelan, head of Occupier Research in the Americas for CBRE, stated:

We are advising our clients to be cycle-aware. Smart real estate decisions can be made by any industry, in any property market, and any economic environment with strategies and solutions ranging from opportunistic to reactive and from agile to committed.

A copy of the full report, Global Occupier Survey 2017, is available for free download from the CBRE Web site upon registration. Additional reports focused on the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions can be found there as well.