Guest post by Scott Marshall, President and Chief Development Officer of Hana, a subsidiary of CBRE Group, Inc.

The original ad for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups showed two clumsy people bumping into each other and combining peanut butter and chocolate. Their dismay turns to joy when they realize how good it tastes.

We’re seeing a similar result as more and more owners dip their toes into the agile workspace market – happier tenants and increased asset value. But note to owners — the “great taste” is not automatic – it requires careful thinking and planning, and perhaps even a new way of thinking about your asset.

Three trends are shaping the workplace.

  1. The workplace is undergoing a consumer-first shift. In an increasingly omnichannel world with a tightening labor market, companies are competing with one another to attract talent by offering a unique office experience, rich in amenities and services. Just as consumers continue to expect experiential retail, they’re also seeking out experiential workplaces.
  2. Technology is rapidly changing workplace interactions. From video conferencing to chat agents to the omnipresence of mobile devices and cloud computing services, technology is giving employees freedom to work their way throughout the day. Face-to-face interactions can be helpful, but today’s tools and always-on connectivity give people untold flexibility to be productive at their desk — and away from it.
  3. An increasingly liquid workforce is changing office demands. The more rigid, hierarchical organization model is giving way to more flexible, project-based teams as companies evolve — and confront an increasingly mobile workforce and tight labor market. At present, freelance and contract worked account for 36 percent of the global workforce and are expected to represent the better part of the labor market by 2027.

Taken together, owners and investors are adopting agile real estate strategies that incorporate long-term leases with a mix of other, more flexible solutions to create long-term value and near-term stickiness for their assets. The most savvy are taking a more active role in finding and executing solutions that increase asset utilization and deliver dynamic experiences to attract the most demanding and desirable tenants. Agile assets incorporate both experience-led amenities, services and programming, as well as a range of lease models stretching from traditional long-term leases to more flexible leasing structures.

Experience-led amenities, services and programming supported by technology offer substantive value to tenants beyond building location as they provide tenants with high-value, high-efficiency amenities, including: meeting spaces, fitness facilities, and catering and concierge services, to attract them to their assets.

Many landlords believe these new offerings are contributing to significantly faster leasing velocity within their buildings. That said, there are some downsides with “outsourcing” an agile real estate strategy. Increasingly, we’re seeing our clients looking for ways to have better control over the provisioning of these features as well as having greater upside in the resulting revenues.

Diverse lease models range from long-term traditional leases and short-term turnkey solutions to on-demand, shared workspaces provided in partnership with companies like Hana. Owners (and their agile workplace partners) play an integral role in enabling environments where larger tenants can achieve the right balance of leasing models. In conjunction with traditional leases, flexible-space solutions can help organizations looking for speed to market, simplicity of transaction and ability to scale in response to market demand.

In today’s fast-moving, rapidly evolving, hyper-personalized world of work, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. For the investor and owner, the opportunity lies in understanding what will best position assets with current and prospective tenants. Embracing an agile approach to real estate that couples traditional real estate models with emerging real estate approaches is critical to developing nimble strategies that effectively serve business objectives, while remaining flexible to meet future needs.

Agile real estate is not a fad. For individuals, it provides choice in where and how they work, with the right mix of spaces, amenities, services and programming to meet their professional and (increasingly) personal needs. For organizations, agility provides a productive, efficient, flexible and experiential footprint that can aid in talent attraction and retention, as well as align with business strategies.

Finally, for the real estate investor and owner, it provides an ideal balance of traditional and flexible lease solutions, supported by technology-enabled amenities, services and program to attract and retain tenants.

Scott Marshall is President and Chief Development Officer of Hana, a subsidiary of CBRE Group, Inc., that is developing and operating integrated, scalable, flexible workspaces.