The Power is Now

‘Future-Proofing’ Corporate Real Estate – Globe St.

“Future-proofing” is a term that comes from high tech. In that context, it meant designing software and hardware so that it could develop or expand to meet needs that were yet to come. Put more simply, it was a fancy way of referring to the avoidance of obsolescence.

In their recent report, Colliers and real estate advisory and service company Blue Skyre IBE extend the concept to their definition of CRE—corporate, not commercial, real estate. In other words, the division of a corporation that handles real estate. It’s an interesting point not articulated in quite this way since the beginning of the pandemic:

“New ways of working also demand a new way for real estate to measure the value it creates. In addition to traditional metrics focused on cost, quality, and efficiency of use, we contend that real estate and facilities teams must develop future-focused metrics that will seek to measure the level of employee engagement and the impacts of a more meaningful work experience. Given the scale of the emerging challenges, now is the time to define the value corporate real estate (CRE) can play within the overall organization.”

The most obvious way this plays out is in the shift towards hybrid work, but there are other areas of change that will affect how companies use space. For example, four generations of workers, each of which might have different expectations and needs. Or significant automation of knowledge management work, meaning fewer workers and less need for space, but also increased use of technology like machine learning and predictive analytics to support real estate analysis and decision making.

Change in corporate real estate departments might happen in something as basic as recognizing that organizational charts aren’t adequate because they don’t convey how people work. “The real shift is moving from a hierarchical reporting structure, to how they work and get things done,” the report says. “When coupled with the disruptive forces emerging with the evolution of more distributed work patterns, this era presents an exciting and compelling time to propose an emerging CRE structure for any company.” What services and facilities will people need?

The paper continues through working processes, technology, reconsideration of what key performance indicators might be, and a more complex consideration of a real estate department’s role in a company. The importance of the document is not a set of answers, but raising the questions in the first place.

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