Long underserved by the technology sector and sometimes sidelined by corporate leadership, Corporate Real Estate (CRE) leaders have now been thrust into the spotlight, moved into a role that connects office reopening decisions to employee satisfaction and long-term success.
The role of the CRE Management team is evolving – and fast.
At a recent Armored Things-sponsored Fireside Chat, CRE veteran and Armored Things advisor Robert Teed talked with Madhu Chamarty about what he’s seeing on the front lines. CRE leaders have gone “from the back office to the front pages,” according to Teed, and are faced with constant offerings from technology vendors who want to reshape the reopening process. It can be hard to sort out which ones are a good match for the long run.
In the last two years, CRE leaders have risen to the occasion – and are more strategic when it comes to workforce planning. “We’re seeing organizations embrace a more continuous approach versus a point-in-time approach to revisiting their real estate portfolio – and revisiting their headcount needs,” Madhu explained.
To get smarter with the ways organizations are using their spaces, CRE teams are creating strengthening alignments with HR teams. Strategic CRE leaders have a continuous pulse on talent trends across the country, not only for the purposes of space planning but for new opportunities to create opportunities to attract a wider and more diverse talent pool.
The pandemic has created what Teed called “a gold rush effect” for the world of workplace technology. That is, workplace reopening technologies are increasing in numbers and types.
“We went from this kind of dearth of technology to this overabundance,” Teed said.
At the start of the pandemic, it was critical to make smart software product choices to allow for cross-functional collaboration which is essential for a distributed workforce. But as employees trickle back into offices, space planning technologies that track occupancy are top of mind as CRE leaders look to design flexible, dynamic spaces.
As many CRE leaders strategize for spring and summer return-to-office plans, there’s a new vocabulary needed. An obvious start is ‘return-to-office’ rather than “return to work” – a nod to the fact that employees have been hard at work at home – sometimes working even longer hours with now boundaries between home and office.
Many corporations have been throwing around the words “remote” and “hybrid” – even using them interchangeably, said Teed. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to decipher what the idea of flexibility means anymore -and the truth is – it can mean something different for every company.
According to Chamarty, how an organization defines flexibility is dependent on two things: the size of the company and its overall objective.
“Flexibility means how we enable some level of working from home. But also how do we make the workplace safer, more productive, and more conducive to things that you cannot do at home,” Madhu said.
For now, Teed encouraged CRE leaders to take time to explore their own space needs in a way that makes the most of the spaces CRE leaders manage – knowing the pressure is on CRE leaders to rely on hard data when renewing leases and spaces.
To watch Teed’s and Chamarty’s full conversation, click here
Here’s where you can learn more about how utilization software can help corporate real estate leaders reshape their offices.
Alex Trotto contributes to the Blog and Social Media channels for Armored Things. She is currently a Northeastern University student in her sophomore year.