Tom Carroll: Five things I learned at CoreNet One Big Day 2018
A couple of hours at CoreNet One Big Day (OBD) is enough to get you the views of dozens of different corporate real estate leaders.
A couple of hours at CoreNet One Big Day (OBD) is enough to get you the views of dozens of different corporate real estate leaders — and that's just at the coffee points. If you want to test the temperature — of everything from business environment to portfolio strategy — this is the place to do it. I managed to do my own private polling in and out of the conference rooms, and this is some of what I picked up.
1. Uncertainty is the new normal – but it is not necessarily a barrier to growth
We are seeing uncertainty in different guises everywhere - from the geopolitical and macro-economic to the technological. But, despite the greater risks uncertainty entails, it also brings opportunity. Businesses are looking longer-term - as they plan their business and CRE strategies. We will see more organisations leveraging digital disruption in their favour, with 85 per cent of boards investing extensively in AI-related technologies in the next three years, according to our research. For corporate real estate (CRE) that means, for instance, more teams adapting AI to bring predictive technologies into their portfolio analysis and planning.
2. Brexit risks remain but the transition period is bringing breathing space
The transition agreement that the UK and EU are planning to implement to take us through to December 2020 has enabled hundreds of businesses to put contingency plans for relocation and other moves on hold. About 75 per cent of the largest firms told the CBI that they will not be implementing such steps now. Nevertheless, as the CBI's Director General, Carolyn Fairbairn, told me when I spoke with her at CoreNet OBD, many hurdles still remain before we can move to the broad and open relationship which business wants to maintain with the EU from 2020 onwards.
Carolyn Fairbairn (Director General, CBI) and Tom Carroll (Head of Corporate Research, EMEA) making final preparations before their content session during CoreNet One Big Day 2018 in London.
3. The landlord and tenant relationship is changing as dialogue between them deepens
The growth of the flexspace and coworking market has acted as a catalyst to drive a deeper analysis of occupier needs from developers. The common business preference for increasing flexibility, higher quality services and experiential workplaces is making these conversations more thoughtful. This is a healthy shift, as they help both sides understand each other's needs better. There is no doubt that leading developers are responding more creatively to occupier preferences.
4. The workplace is now a board level priority
The workplace is an engine for growth and it's becoming central to the recruitment process, and to the engagement and productivity of staff. Carolyn talked first-hand about the increasing importance this trend at board level. After its people, the workplace is the most significant embodiment of an organisation's brand and values - and it is the stage in which its daily life and decision-making are carried out. I know many at CoreNet will share this sentiment and it is heartening to hear this is gaining more traction at the most senior levels in companies.
Carolyn Fairbairn (Director General, CBI) and Tom Carroll (Head of Corporate Research, EMEA) answering questions from the audience during CoreNet One Big Day 2018 in London.
5. Diversity and inclusion is the only way ahead for our industry
Publishing our first UK gender pay gap report over the last few weeks has been a milestone for our industry. It shines a light on areas we have to improve. This doesn't capture the full picture, but it's a step in the right direction. The industry has made good progress but cannot become complacent until it reflects the society in which we operate. Perhaps my favourite quote of the day was Carolyn's recounting of the Canadian governments' Ice Hockey analogy: "you're never going to win with half your team on the bench". A telling metaphor for the economic and business benefit of a truly diverse workforce.
An inspiring day at CoreNet One Big Day. I am already looking forward to next year!