Hybrid Work

The Changing Role of the Corporate Real Estate Team

The proliferation of hybrid work is shaking up the corporate real estate industry. Read on to learn how this will impact the responsibilities of CRE teams!

Traditionally, corporate real estate (CRE) teams have been tasked with managing a company’s physical assets, such as offices, warehouses, and retail spaces. However, as organizations continue to adopt hybrid work models and adjust their demand for office spaces, CRE teams face new challenges that will require major adjustments to their roles and responsibilities. 

Nobody has a crystal ball foretelling exactly how hybrid work will impact commercial offices long-term, we do know definitely that things have already changed. Here are four key ways in which the role of the CRE team has changed thus far in the journey.

1. Greater focus on the employee experience

Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the opportunity to use their office space as a way to retain and acquire top talent. As a result, CRE teams are increasing their scope to include creating workplaces that enhance all aspects of the employee experience, from productivity and innovation to employee health and well-being.

69% of organizations report revisiting their workplace design standards over the course of the pandemic. Many office updates focus on replacing ‘me’ spaces, like cubicles and individual offices, with ‘we’ spaces, like smart conference spaces, collaboration areas, and lounges. Spaces purpose-built for flexible work encourage socialization and allow organizations to bring employees together for the moments that matter most.

2. Greater need for data & technology solutions 

Digitally-enabled office spaces can give CRE teams the data they need to understand their company’s demand for workspace. CRE teams are largely aware of the potential benefits of collecting and analyzing such data: 65% made improving space data accuracy a goal for 2022. (Check out our recent blog post for a more in-depth discussion of how utilization data can be used to optimize your hybrid workspace portfolio.) Technology solutions will continue to enable CRE teams to make more informed real estate decisions, manage their portfolios more effectively, and drive greater financial savings.

3. Greater focus on sustainability

For many organizations, sustainability used to be merely a ‘nice to have.’ However, sustainability efforts have become more crucial to organizations’ success in recent years. The ESG framework has emerged as a common method to evaluate firms’ environmental, societal, and governmental performance. More than 90% of S&P 500 companies now publish some form of ESG report. Regarding the environmental component of ESG, large companies are leading the way with lofty green initiatives: as of 2021, 21% of the world’s largest companies have committed to meeting net-zero targets

This global sustainability push impacts CRE teams at firms of all sizes by encouraging them to focus on reducing the environmental impact of their office buildings and ensuring they are designed, constructed, and operated efficiently. By focusing on sustainability, CRE teams can help organizations reduce their carbon footprints, realize financial savings, and improve their brand’s reputation.

4. Greater collaboration with other departments

Navigating the murky waters of flexible work is complex. CRE teams must maintain close communication with other departments like human resources (HR) and information technology (IT). By collaborating with these other departments, CRE teams can better understand the needs of their firm’s employees, such as their preferred working locations and technology requirements. A deeper understanding of employees’ needs allows CRE teams to build spaces that support them, ultimately leading to higher productivity.

With all of these changes, you may be wondering, “what does the future hold for CRE teams?

Many will ‘wait and see’ while others will blaze trails. The future of CRE teams will likely continue to be shaped by these four major trends, but we can expect more factors to emerge as organizations continue to iterate their flexible work models.

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