Change is always being felt – being driven by business or requiring business to adopt.
Today, there are five changes being seen globally, expected to have significant impact. These trends – called megatrends (as their influence will be felt by everyone globally) – are health, urbanization, mobility, technology and shifting economic power.
Large organizations with global property portfolios can make significant contributions to these megatrends or identify how a megatrend can guide their property strategy. The question with these megatrends is, how can Corporate Real Estate (CRES) shape or respond to them?
Of course, health is a broad umbrella and, as a megatrend, covers all facets – increasing awareness of contemporary living on mental health, increasing ages around the world, and, even, the reemergence of previously eliminated diseases.
Narrowing the focus to the workplace and how CRES is working to improve facilities to mitigate and reduce the strain on people while working and when onsite. CRES, through smart workplace design, is working towards relieving both mental and physical strains affecting the workforce’s wellbeing and health. CRES has targeted areas identified to impact employee’s health such as loneliness, workplace environment and lack of movement.
Loneliness in the workplace happens in two ways – remote workers plowing their trade from home offices and feelings of isolation when on-site.
A fundamental impediment to wellbeing is the quality of the work environment. Many employees complain their focus and productivity is affected by poor air quality, temperature, noise and light. Sensors and automation monitor and react to changing environmental conditions, bringing conditions back within the threshold that employees feel comfortable and report high productivity levels.
Another area CRES is seeking to improve health through the workforce is physical. Countries around the world are issuing calls to action as healthcare systems struggle with the ill effects of advanced economies. CRES is redeploying facilities and giving employees choice and freedom, encouraging greater activity levels before, during and after the workday.
An increasing emphasis in corporate workplaces is on employees and what can be done to improve their experience while working and while on-site. Human Capital Management (HCM) is a more visible point of conversation in CRES today with focus on how important employee health is and what needs to be done to maintain and improve workplaces supporting mental and physical health of employees.
Population Growth, Urbanization and Mobility
On the whole, the global population is growing.
Coupled with this growth in headcount, people are still migrating to cities. The increasing population and steady migration to cities is leading to a global housing crisis and further urban sprawl which is compounding carbon emission issues. The World Economic Forum has identified that the 10 fastest-growing cities in the world are all in India with year-on-year increases of between 8-9% expected from 2019 to 2035!
However, organizations the world over are looking to redevelop their property portfolios creating mixed-use spaces, incorporating working and living.
Canary Wharf in London has long been a bastion of the London/ global banking industry. Today, the area is quickly transforming to support big business and its 70,000+ residents in a new way by creating more and better livable spaces throughout its 97-acre site. Additional initiatives are making the area even more attractive, such as restricting plastics reflecting broadening societal concerns about environmental impact.
Technology, particularly within digital fields, is whitewashing capabilities and creating a level-playing field. The technology advancements and digitization that has transformed societies across the last 20 years has seen significant breakthroughs coming from unexpected places.
CRES is also going through its own digital and technological transformation. Data collection, integration and automation are creating opportunities for CRES to look at their footprints and relieve unused space.
Organizations are incorporating smart technology or building smart buildings – constantly capturing and outlining a building’s performance and usage. This understanding is enabling CRES to pivot – using data to realign property with how it’s being used by employees. This includes redeploying space types being used and reducing others where evidence of non-use has been collected.
Further benefits of the transformative technology megatrend includes reduction. CRES can leverage big data to understand if their property portfolio is too large. Also, integrating and automating Building Management Systems (BMS) and energy schedules aligning with accurate usage trends is enabling CRES to massively reduce energy waste.
Eventually, big data will blur between the private and municipal with joined up capabilities enabling a seamless, digital-driven living experience for people in the office and surrounding spaces.
Shifting Economic Power
CRES is as much of an observer of this megatrend as are many other elements of business and culture at large.
As economies grow and retract globally, the only thing CRES can continue to do is stay in our lane. As an industry, CRES has managed to justify its importance across organization from daily operations to weighing in on strategic-level decision making.
In attaining this level of importance, CRES is leveraging competence and experience guiding organizations through these megatrends and, along the way, scoring some big wins for everyone – people, business and the environment.
The world is in constant flux. Today, the megatrends being felt around the world are health, urbanization, population, growth and mobility, technology and changes in economic power.
The CRES industry is in a position to anticipate the impact of these megatrends, delivering change within some of the largest companies globally contributing to a reduction or negative impact. CRES has also responsibly reacted to these megatrends, taking the change in its stride and looking at the best methods of adopting to these megatrends.