To begin, let's take a short assessment. How does your C-Suite view its corporate real estate (CRE) organization?
1. Take the order/Shape the order/Make the order
2. CRE technical expert and advisor
3. Trusted partner and business leader that creates effective workplace solutions
If you chose option one or two, you are not alone. CBRE and CoreNet Global just released the 2018 global survey Stress Testing Your CRE Agility which concluded that "few organizations believe they have a highly agile real estate function." So how do CRE functions change this?
LET'S START WITH A LITTLE CONTEXT
Historically, CRE organizations' scope of responsibility covered occupancy and work space requirements for operating units, sometimes including other general or corporate service functions such as mail, document management, cafeteria, and dining services. Services were provided in a more transactional manner with requests and fulfillments made with C-Suite leadership engagement typically focused on cost reduction or containment programs. So what's changed?
Across the financial services industry, the regulatory, transformation, and business changes emanating from the 2008 Financial Crisis had profound impacts on C-Suite leaders' perspectives. Today, the business requirements for corporate sector organizations are being more fully integrated, and CRE organizations are not immune. In addition, changes in both employee expectations and the need for progressive workplace solutions put CRE organizations in a unique, highly favorable position to partner with, and support, C-Suite leaders.
STRONG OPERATING PERFORMANCE DRIVES CREDIBILITY
To be viewed by the C-Suite as value creators and strategic partners, CRE organizations must first establish credibility through a strong operating performance. Creating value for their companies, demonstrating consistency in meeting strategic objectives and organizational commitments is an absolute prerequisite. Performing and mastering the fundamental CRE functions in a superior fashion is the springboard that enables the C-Suite to leverage these skills as a partner with CRE organizations to lead strategic workplace and/or cultural transformations.
WHY CRE IS UNIQUELY POSITIONED TO PARTNER WITH THE C-SUITE Corporate real estate decisions tend to have longer term implications associated with leasing, acquiring, and building work space. Similarly, the C-Suite has a natural bias and requirement to understand the proposed operating plans and long-term impacts of such commitments. This powerful combination creates a significant platform to partner and collaborate across corporate functions, lines of business, and C-Suite leaders.
For the reasons above, CRE can harness its innate advantage by:
Developing a clear perspective on how to best support your company's employees and how CRE can support these priorities
Strengthening existing business line relationships across the company
Using CRE data to drive actionable insights to help C-Suite leaders make strategic decisions for the long-term benefit of your company
OFFER DEEPER VALUE THROUGH AGILITY
The CRE organization can add even greater bottom-line value through quick responsiveness (agility) to changing business and economic conditions. CBRE's The Agility Mandate report outlines the following key factors:
Economic, business, technology, and consumer dynamics are causing companies to emphasize agility across their organizations to remain competitive
The real estate function is becoming more involved in leveraging agility; however, the path is unclear
The C-Suite can leverage the real estate function in the following areas to improve agility:
• Delivery of free address environments
• Support flex-work programs
• Utilization of third-party free space
• Seek shorter term lease options
• Maintain longer range portfolio strategies
Ultimately, CRE creates workplace environments with overall solutions that are in the best interest of the company, shareholders, customers, and employees.
Don Isenburg is Senior Managing Director for CBRE's Global Workplace Solutions, and holds a deep career within the financial services sector working with numerous C-Suite leaders at JP Morgan Chase, Cendant, and AT&T. Connect with Don on LinkedIn.