Property teams are facing a “pressure cooker” of expectations as senior business leaders look to them to reduce operating expenses, challenge the business on the space it needs, and increase portfolio flexibility and density.
Property services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) surveyed over 500 corporate real estate (CRE) professionals and found that a drive towards productivity improvement means CRE teams are focusing more intently on workplace strategy than they were two years ago.
“Strategically, this has placed CRE teams at the forefront of corporate cultural transformations,” it said. Respondents see increasing demand from leadership to enable more flexible forms of working (62%), while 59% are challenged to support wider cultural change within their organisations. More than three in every five said there is growing appetite to drive greater flexibility through the real estate portfolio and provide larger volumes of on-demand space.
In the next three years, 88% of respondents said they will be called on to enact space/cost reduction programmes, 81% to improve the quality of the workplace, 82% to improve workplace technology and 76% to enhance the workplace experience.
However, property, HR and IT teams are not integrating as quickly as expected. More than a fifth of respondents said they believe shared services integration will take place between these functions in the next three years and 45% see lack of integration with the wider business as one of the top three constraints when it comes to adding value.
Despite this, the report said it is apparent that “the ambition for more formal interaction is often overstated or constrained by the realities of trying to make this broader structural shift”.
“Shared services integration has been a bit slower than we anticipated,” said Tom Carroll, JLL director of corporate research in EMEA and one of the authors of the report. “It has not gone as fast as we thought it would, and probably should. Where you have real estate intertwined with HR and technology you can put frameworks in place to ensure you’re maximising your interaction and your strategies are fully aligned.”
He added that the pressure on real estate teams to drive down space requirements and costs relies on wider cultural change in an organisation. “It’s a very fine balance to strike for a corporation. if you get your policies right and the workplace set up correctly you can reduce space and increase density but there is also a risk of pushing it too far.”
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