Collaborate in order to contribute

If the economy were a colour, it would probably be a dreary grey, with just a few discernible brighter spots sprinkled in its midst. Over time of course, we have become accustomed to the economic doldrums, from which we are finding it difficult to emerge. CRE teams are no exception. Over the last 5 years, they have identified and delivered an impressive array of cost savings for many companies in relatively short time frames.  Unsurprisingly this has fuelled future expectations of what they can achieve going forwards and the pressure to cut or avoid costs wherever possible is now greater than ever.

And whilst cost cutting / avoidance is the order of the day for CRE teams, there is also a growing emphasis on increasing the productivity of workers and the workplace. Obviously rising productivity can boost corporate profits, something that is critical in a slower and lower growth environment.  Unsurprisingly therefore, productivity is writ large in CRE strategy. It is the leading modus operandi of the CRE team. CRE teams need to move above and beyond a limited focus on property costs and concentrate on aligning all corporate support functions behind wider strategic initiatives.  This issue was central to our own recent white paper, ‘A new dawn for workplace strategy?’

The benefits of integrating CRE with previously isolated support functions of HR, IT, facilities management and finance could certainly pay dividends when it comes to providing effective, productivity-enhancing working environments for high-end knowledge workers. So an integrated approach from support functions should provide corporates with a chance to gain real competitive advantage.

To my mind, worker and workplace productivity represents a stronger and more positive focus for CRE teams than tactical real estate plays aimed at reducing costs.  This is starting to shape the CRE agenda.  But in essence this will take CRE outside of a simple bricks and mortar consideration to become change managers and integrators of service functions within their businesses.  This is quite a change of positioning and will present some real risks and challenges.  But it will be a key means of retaining relevance and showing added value.

Suffice to say significant rewards await those who are committed enough and able to get it right, whilst laggards will inevitably be disadvantaged over time.