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The changing workplace

The most recent in the World Built Environment Forum series of webinars, 'new work, new workplaces and the impact on real estate investment' took place on 23 January and attracted an audience of 135 built environment professionals from all over the world.

World Built Environment Forum, Webinar Series
13 February 2019

The most recent in the World Built Environment Forum series of webinars, 'New work, new workplaces and the impact on real estate investment' took place on 23 January and attracted an audience of 135 built environment professionals from all over the world.

To discuss how the workplace may change in the future and cover issues such as smart-enabled buildings, wellness and flexible office space, and what this might mean for employers, employees and investors, the webinar put together a panel of leading industry experts from Cushman & Wakefield, Leesman and Credit Suisse. As well as a panel discussion, the webinar featured, audience polls and a live Q&A session where the audience could submit questions.

The speaker line up for the webinar was:

  • Despina Katsikakis, International Partner, Head of Occupier Business Performance, Cushman & Wakefield
  • Tim Oldman, Founder and CEO, Leesman
  • Ben Richford, Director, Head of European Real Estate Equities Research, Credit Suisse

New work, new workplaces and the impact on real estate investment

What will the workplace look like in the next five to fifteen years and further ahead? Will changes be subtle or dramatic and what will the effect be on investors, employers and employees? Where will the largest change come from – co-working spaces, smart buildings, an enhanced workplace experience or green buildings?

Some of the key takeaways from the webinar were:

  • Connected devices, AI and other technologies are changing our perception of buildings from bricks & mortar to dynamic living organisms.
  • Occupiers typically spend 10-15% on buildings and energy, but 85-90% on people, so a very modest improvement on employee wellbeing can have a significant business impact.
  • There is little doubt that corporate workplaces directly impact employee satisfaction and productivity and of the benefits of high-performance environments, but high-performance environments must be matched with high performance systems.
  • The workplace today is always communicating corporate brand, culture and value and so organisations that recognise and manage this have significantly higher employee engagement, and better attraction and retention.
  • Occupiers are seeking a much more dynamic offer from their landlords and increasingly want them to provide not only space, including flexible and on-demand, but also the operational capabilities to enhance the likes of employee productivity and wellness. This has brought the role of the landlord closer to that of being in the hospitality business.
  • Demand for flexible space will continue, but flexible space allocation will be the norm for any landlord offer.
  • For flexible space operators, the question is whether they will continue to grow as before or whether they will change to take up a wider spectrum of service and relationships (for example WeWork's pilot scheme to help find SMEs find office space within and outside of WeWork).
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) landlords can no longer ignore the growth of flexible space and responses include leasing to a third party, i.e. flexible space operators, and developing their own flexible space platform.