Occupiers seeking tech, flexibility and wellness in a newly consumerised workplace

Nearly two-thirds of  corporate occupiers (62 percent) plan to increase their investment in real estate technology over the next three years, most of them in the next year, according to the 2018 EMEA Occupier Survey from CBRE. Companies are intending to invest more heavily in new real estate technologies over the short to medium term in order to enhance the user experience and raise workforce productivity. This represents a clear move away from aiming real estate technology at purely operational goals such as energy management.

The technologies being employed include wayfinding apps, connected sensors, wearables and personal environment control systems. Room or seat reservation systems and sensors are also being increasingly adopted to support improvements in space efficiency.

The wellness agenda has evolved into a core pillar of real estate strategy. Four out of five occupiers have, or plan to introduce, wellness programs and an even higher proportion have some degree of preference for wellness enabled/capable buildings. This is supporting a range of innovative approaches to delivering and measuring wellness, including broadening and adapting the offer and seeking to measure the impacts.

Other findings of the report include:

  • 45 percent of businesses expect to have significant use of flexible offices by 2021
  • Nearly half of companies (47 percent) will be looking to hire data scientists
  • 92 percent of companies have a preference for wellness capable buildings

Richard Holberton, Head of EMEA occupier research at CBRE said: “These changes will place new demands on management of the real estate asset, entailing a shift towards better service levels and more consumerisation.  This is effectively a growing fusion of workplace and service, reflected in widespread plans to hire new skills such as data scientists and digital information officers.

“Companies are also seeing flexible office space as a key element of their corporate portfolios. The proportion of companies making no use at all of flexible space is expected to decline from 35 percent to 21 percent, indicating a growing awareness and broadening of interest even among previous non-adopters.

“Occupiers are also increasingly differentiating among the various types of flexible space available, and in general favouring co-working space. All see double-digit increases in their expected level of usage in three years’ time compared with currently. The increase is most marked for co-working space which sees a rise of over 20 percentage points to 56 percent, taking it above serviced/furnished space as the most popular type of flexible space.

“It is increasingly likely that some larger corporations will respond to the emerging flex market dynamics by developing their own bespoke co-working environments, which mirror the design, service and “vibe” of 3rd party spaces, supported by similar technologies and concierge solutions, but delivered and operated directly to preserve the relationship between employer and employee.

“Developing a flexible wellness offer will require creative thinking, enhanced collaboration between the Corporate Real Estate, HR and IT functions and senior management, as well as a critical eye on which elements actually generate the greatest measurable benefits.

“Taken together, these changes will produce a more refined occupancy planning capability among corporate occupiers. It is also likely to generate new forms of asset configuration and workspace design, and place new demands on management of the real estate asset, namely a shift towards better service levels and more consumerisation. The change is well underway for what can effectively be called the personalised workplace.”