These are challenging times for corporate real estate professionals. Even before the looming coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, economic signs were pointing to a coming recession. At APAClive, a virtual summit that is/was focused on corporate real estate and business continuity, a test was presented to three competing teams in CoreNet Global’s Academic Challenge: develop a proactive strategy.  

The mission was three-fold:

  • Recession-proof the real estate portfolio
  • Continue to support the business objectives of the organization
  • Ensure that such a strategy does not negatively impact the company in the unlikely event that a recession does not materialize

Three teams represented universities from around the globe: Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur; Delft University of Technology, and the University of Sydney.

The team from Delft University won the competition.

The Delft worked on the fictional “Blue Banc Group,” one of the biggest banks in the world. And their strategy was three-fold:

  • On the first organizational level, we advise the Blue Banc Group to reinvent their operations, by investing in artificial intelligence.
  • AI and automation, in combination with customer demand for digital solutions, will cause a decline in branches needed. The least important branches, analyzed by data analytics, will, therefore, be divested. Also, these trends will cause a decrease in needed office space per employee. In peripheral locations, ‘the margins,’ this space will be divested, reducing real estate costs.

    In the core areas, co-working spaces together with (fin)tech companies and startups are made, creating innovative flagship stores and offices and thereby improving the Blue Banc Group’s brand and image.

  • The dynamics of the sector ask for a highly diverse and cross-sector workforce in a differentiated workplace level. The workplace should facilitate this, offering a variety of types of workplaces and investing in human-machine collaboration.

All three teams presented strategies that demonstrated talent and innovative thinking. During days when it seems like life as we know it will never be the same, these young people delivered a powerful message at APAClive: Life may be different, but we are here to ensure that it is going to be better.