Top 3 real estate priorities for companies in 2023
The stakes are high for corporate real estate in the months ahead
- Hannah Dwyer
It’s no secret that we’re currently operating in an economically cautious and challenging environment. Economic uncertainty, not least cost pressures impacted by inflation, are underpinning corporate real estate (CRE) decisions.
However, it’s our view that the economic outlook is far from all bad news, particularly now inflation looks to have peaked. There is light at the end of the tunnel and a recovery looks likely in the second half of the year. So for CRE leaders faced with managing a seismic real estate shift in a cost-constrained environment, these economic headwinds should be temporary and short-lived.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what I think the main themes will be for 2023:
1. Hybrid implementation
It’s clear that hybrid is here to stay as a permanent feature in the working landscape. Employees expect it, and employers are trying to respond accordingly, while keeping a close eye on their competitors. But in reality, most corporates are still trying to figure out how to manage hybrid and what works for them. For those with global portfolios, additional cultural complexities arise, as we have seen hybrid work adoption varies regionally. There’s no one-size-fits-all.
What’s more, in many cases there’s still uncertainty around exactly who is responsible for implementing the changes required, leading to an evolution in the role of leaders and increasing awareness of the interlinked roles that facilities management, HR and technology teams will have to play.
The stakes are high when it comes to getting hybrid implementation right. Showing that your commitment is an employee-focused one, with a corporate agenda aligned to employee expectations around hybrid work - not to mention simultaneously juggling DEI and ESG priorities - could be a key differentiator.
Decisions are happening at pace, with a profound impact on buildings. It’s why I think hybrid, and all the complexities that surround that very frequently used word, will continue to be a main area of focus in 2023 - and indeed beyond.
2. Dynamic operations
Given the current cost pressures, anything that supports improving operational efficiency and resilience within buildings will be high up the priority list. It’s here that technology plays a key role in being able to capture the increasingly complex metrics arising from real estate management.
Technology enables real-time monitoring, which ultimately drives faster and better decision-making, improves processes and transforms operations. Adopting workplace, facilities and portfolio technologies will help CRE leaders create a healthy, dynamic and engaging work environment that’s energy efficient and automated – and importantly, help to reduce costs.
There’s an ecosystem of partnerships emerging across real estate to address emerging complexities arising from hybrid work. Broadly speaking, organizations are not equipped to tackle the new challenges of the future of work alone, so will need to rely more on alliances and third-party specialists.
Challenges span quite technically specific areas (like health and wellbeing, sustainability, renewable energy supply and sourcing, or tech solutions), so as their own mandate increases, CRE leaders will need to seek out a range of expertise.
This could mean investors and occupiers working more closely together, alliances with academic or government organisations, or outsourcing to service specialists. By embracing a partnership approach, CRE leaders can rapidly harness an ecosystem of specialist skills and expertise, to accelerate progress, achieve strategic objectives and ultimately reduce spend.
To sum up, the coming months will see anything that helps drive cost efficiencies gain momentum, with technology and partnerships also being closely interlinked to the successful implementation of hybrid work.