A global survey of corporate real estate (CRE) professionals – those who manage real estate assets for large corporations – reveals that CRE is playing a strategic role in helping companies respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak by partnering more closely with other key corporate functions, ensuring employee health and safety and supporting business continuity efforts through remote working and other means.

CoreNet Global ranked the implementation of these and other measures reported by the nearly 200 corporate real estate end-user professionals at multinational companies who completed the survey.

When asked what measures the company’s corporate real estate team is taking in response to the coronavirus:

  • Increasing access to hand sanitizers: 93%
  • Implementing travel restrictions: 88%
  • Enhancing building cleaning, janitorial and sanitation efforts: 85%
  • Expanding use of virtual meetings vs. face-to-face meetings: 76%
  • Postponing or canceling business meetings: 69%
  • Supporting corporate mandate for expanded remote working: 56%
  • Encouraging employees to avoid direct contact (e.g., handshakes): 56%
  • Partnering more closely with other corporate functions (e.g., to ensure employee health and safety, to reduce risk, to facilitate remote working, etc.): 52%
    • HR: 89%
    • IT: 43%
    • Finance: 26%
    • Risk: 59%
    • Procurement: 35%
    • Supply Chain: 29%
    • Other: 29%
  • Establishing more stringent security (e.g., building entry) procedures for visitors, such as health screenings: 31%
  • Establishing more stringent security (e.g., building entry) procedures for both employees and visitors, such as health screenings: 24%
  • Shutting down one or more facilities: 24%
  • Supporting business leaders to minimize supply-chain disruptions: 24%
  • Safety training with employees: 22%
  • Encouraging employees to avoid public places and public transportation: 20%
  • Reducing hours of operation at one or more facilities: 15%
  • Providing expanded access to onsite health-care professionals: 8%

CoreNet Global provides a worldwide platform for corporate real estate professionals to share best practices and find solutions to common challenges. The survey also asked respondents to share any advice they would give to others working through the coronavirus challenge. Examples include:

  • Get out in front of it – have a plan
  • Review your Business Continuity Plan now
  • Gather information from a variety of sources, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local governments
  • Communicate clearly with employees, but do not panic or overreact
  • Take concrete, visible steps to make employees feel safer
  • Have a centralized, cross-functional incident management team
  • Set up a “war room” with business units and cross-functional services teams to share and evaluate new external information and coordinate a common response
  • Collaborate with internal business partners to align priorities
  • Be ready to deploy a broad-based remote working plan
  • Encourage remote working and virtual meetings
  • Increase janitorial cleaning and access to hand sanitizer
  • Treat this like “the flu on steroids” – increase cleaning rounds, stress the importance of proper hygiene, and stay home when sick
  • Consider not just the risk to yourself, but the risk to your friends, family and colleagues you interact with daily
  • Remove community snacks and food
  • Encourage employees to avoid crowded public places
  • Avoid travel insofar as possible

One of the biggest challenges in managing the crisis is “controlling the panic brought on by constant media coverage and…keeping perspective on actual risk vs. perceived risk and scaling appropriately,” according to one of the respondents.

CoreNet Global will be updating the survey as the crisis continues.