We will get through this. Then, what  will corporate real estate look like on the other side?

That was one of the topics discussed during the CoreNet Global Pop-Up Webinar for corporate real estate professionals on April 1. You can view all the resources that CoreNet Global is providing to the industry on our coronavirus (COVID-19) resources page. Below are key takeaways:

What will be the new normal coming out of all this?

  • Workplace guidelines will be potentially up for renewal, and we’ll need to look at our density planning. Nothing is off the table. Remote working is a benefit not so much in terms of cost savings but a new way of working from home.I suppose all this will accelerate plans or intentions to do new ways of working now that it has been proven to work. Companies will be encouraged to do so in order to reduce the density of populations in office buildings.
  • In our company, we are starting to see optimism in the way we’re delivering service, and the business is pleased that we can do this without being in the office, which is great news for us. In Japan, we are being asked by our M&A lead to put together a strategy for agility. The lesson I’m getting is that the business itself is starting to find its way to do business while people are remote. Of course, we are a professional services firm, so  that would be harder for other industries. But it’s a ray of sunshine in this time for us.
  • We provide serviced office space here in New Zealand, and we are getting more inquiries for flexibility. Businesses want to work in a more agile way, and they have reviewed their workplace strategy in order not to be as impacted by what’s happening around the world. I think a lot of businesses will look for more flexibility and agility with their real estate.

Does the focus on workplace experience go away in the new normal?

  • Near term, I think people will be wary of close encounters with others.
  • Design may change significantly from what we’re seeing now. It might be that we will only go to the office when we must go to the office. We can be productive, and the level of trust is there now. It will be hard to go back to 9 to 5 just so someone can see us sitting at our desk. I do think it will change significantly.
  • I think this will be a short-term opportunity for a lot of people who didn’t like the concept of remote working to see how easy it can be. Long term, I think the face-to-face interaction will be missed, and people will want to get back to the office and have those coffees and get some “normal” back into their lives – and also get out of the house. I don’t think we’ll lose the collaborative office environment.

How has your role changed in light of COVID-19?

  • I’m not sure it has changed, but it has morphed. And we definitely have a seat at the table. The broader team of IT, HR and CRE meets pretty much daily as one would suspect. We’re at the forefront more with the HR folk and the Health and Safety guys, and of course IT as well. This is requiring a lot of heavy lifting. We in CRE seem to be leading from the front and leading by example.