CBRE: Occupiers are shifting towards greater customised space solutions to optimise human capital

Corporate demand will become increasingly segmented as occupiers improve their ability to package space, service and amenity, predicts CBRE, which will accelerate the shift towards customised solutions that reflect the specific needs of different business functions.

This may be in a single self-contained workplace environment, or via a range of discrete solutions integrated through digital applications and platforms, CBRE continued. Fundamentally, the challenge faced by occupiers is how to procure, design and curate real estate across different locations, functions and formats in a way that optimises human capital.

CBRE, in its EMEA Occupier Survey 2019, pointed to several emerging trends across Europe, including:

  • Strategies for skills, space and service are converging and should be viewed as a single initiative, not several. This implies the need for closer collaboration between business support functions, particularly real estate, HR and technology.
  • However, this is still a multi-track process, and should therefore differentiate across each business function and space type; one size doesn’t fit all.
  • Flexible space is in demand for its service and amenity attributes, not because it is intrinsically better. Traditional space that is tech and amenity rich (or a combination of traditional and flex) may be equally effective and offer better opportunities for landlord and tenant partnerships.           
  • Drive greater adaptability and hybridisation in the flexible space spectrum – space that can adapt and evolve with dynamic business requirements and be aligned to your talent agenda and the provision of associated services and amenities.

Richard Holberton, head of CBRE EMEA occupier research, said:

“In an environment where occupiers identify labour and skills shortages as a key strategic challenge, decision-making across a range of issues is increasingly dominated by the need to optimise human capital

“Balancing a range of competing – sometimes conflicting – priorities in assembling and managing real estate portfolios isn’t a new challenge for corporates. But the range of tools available to occupiers is expanding rapidly and, more importantly, the primacy of people and the growing need to deliver high quality user experiences to the workforce are coming to dominate decision-making.”

Over a third of companies see labour and skills shortages as a key strategic challenge, double last year’s result (see chart), although the mix and order of factors varies greatly by sector (see table). Fundamentally, the challenge faced by occupiers is how to procure, design and curate real estate across different locations, functions and formats in a way that optimises human capital.

Holberton added:

“These challenges are particularly acute for specific business functions – notably those that need to attract digital or data scientist talent, which is already scarce and in growing demand across all industry types. Given this war for talent, every effort is being made to invest in the best possible environments to make the existing workforce both more efficient and, where possible, more productive.”

Mike Gedye, CBRE Strategic Advisory, Occupier added:

“The survey makes it clear that strategies for skills, space and service are converging and should be viewed holistically. This implies the need for much closer collaboration between CRE teams and other business support functions, but does not suggest a one size fits all approach. On the contrary, it is likely to call for highly flexible and adaptable approaches underpinned by a coherent and dynamic data strategy.”

james.wallace@realassetmedia.com