10 Ways the Workplace Is Changing

August 18, 2020

The pandemic has undoubtedly reshaped the workplace, and many experts believe the changes will be long-lasting. Commercial real estate will see a number of sweeping changes, according to JLL’s Top 10 Global CRE Trends report.

“The long-term societal and real estate implications could be felt for years to come, changing our ways of living and working,” the report notes. “While approaches like remote working, sustainability initiatives and integration of technology could be fundamentally altered by this global health crisis, it also presents opportunity for CRE teams and leadership to unlock potential and drive value.”

JLL’s report spotlights the following top 10 global CRE trends in 2020:

1. The augmented workplace

“Digital work implementation” will go mainstream with remote working accelerating. Over the longer term, JLL predicts greater use of digital technologies to help companies work more efficiently as well as create more personalized working environments for employees who work in diverse locations. Sixty-two percent of employees believe that “intelligent technologies” will create opportunities for their work.

2. Fast data

Improved Wi-Fi networks, faster download speeds, and more reliable connections will likely drive the future workplace, JLL predicts. Thirty percent of commercial real estate leaders acknowledge that the lack of access to effective data and analytics is one of the top three constraints in their ability to add value to their organization, according to a JLL survey from 2018. JLL believes 5G cell communications could change that. The ultra-fast network technology can increase consumption by up to 1,000% compared with 4G networks.

3. The conscious workplace

Creating “an inclusive workplace that attracts talent and can improve business performance” has never been more important, the report notes. Organizations with inclusive cultures are two times more likely to meet or exceed financial goals and six times more likely to be innovative and agile, the report notes. Also included in building a “conscious workplace,” companies will likely focus on “building health,” which includes building ventilation, air filtration, cleaning, and facilities management.

4. Metrics that matter

An increase in expectations will call for a focus on performance management in corporate real estate, the report notes. JLL says firms will likely need to review and identify critical metrics due to the pandemic’s impact as well as monitor insights and preferences across company locations, business functions, and demographics to inform long term strategies and future investment. “Real-time data analytics are crucial in the current time to enable the right decision making from a business and workplace continuity standpoint,” JLL notes.

5. Flex 2.0

Commercial real estate firms will likely discover a greater number of opportunities to tweak and future-proof flexible space strategies. Fifty-six percent of companies in North America are currently using co-working solutions, according to a JLL 2020 survey. “Calibrate your CRE portfolio by incorporating flex to meet the needs of the employee and improve the overall experience,” JLL recommends. “COVID-19 has catalyzed the adoption of flexible/remote working practices.”

6. Innovation geographies

Cities are pivoting to the innovation economy to gain a competitive edge. JLL identified San Francisco as the top global city for innovation, followed by Tokyo and Singapore. JLL reports: “COVID-19 is having a significant short-term operational impact on workforce planning. Optimize portfolio strategy toward talent-rich cities best equipped to support innovation and drive enterprise performance.”

7. Toward net-zero energy

Companies that take an integrated approach to climate and environment tend to outperform their competitors across performance indicators, such as sales, employee productivity, employee turnover, and more, JLL reports. Forty percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the construction and operation of buildings, according to JLL research. Commercial professionals are rethinking day-to-day operations that can lead to a net-zero carbon economy, such as exploring measures to reduce emissions and deliver energy usage and cost savings. Also, more firms likely will look to align their real estate strategy with broader corporate objectives around sustainability, community, and societal impact.

8. Ecosystem thinking

Enhanced collaboration with non-traditional partners and disparate sectors will spark industry disruption, the report notes. These partnerships may come from academic partnerships, company ties, incubators, or others.

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9. Vibrancy

JLL notes the importance of creating “vibrant everyday experiences” in the workplace. “Infuse vibrancy within the workplace and align portfolio with micro-locations that elevate employee experience and attract talent,” the report notes. To support engagement and performance, firms may look to add building amenities, upgraded lobbies and relaxation spaces, high-end wellness services, and specialty food and beverages (employees who eat healthily are 25% more likely to perform better).

10. Adaptive CRE

“CRE’s operational model will continue to undergo transformation, shifting from solely being agile to being able to facilitate the adaptive future-ready enterprise,” JLL notes. With so much uncertainty looming in the world, companies are struggling to have clarity on a path forward. As such, corporate real estate teams must remain “nimble” and focus on “operational resilience,” JLL notes. JLL recommends setting up emergency response procedures and business continuity plans to support operations and serve the needs of your business; prepare workplace and business continuity based “what if” scenarios; and plan ahead to ensure a smooth return to the regular routine with possible new requirements introduced.

Top 10 Global CRE Trends,” JLL (2020)