- March 1, 2021: Vol. 8, Number 3

The real estate reset: Eight core truths guiding the future of work and office space

by Mike Consol

Despite significant uncertainty, corporate real estate leaders must now embrace the unknown and confront the new realities of business, according to a CBRE report that outline eight “core truths” that its researchers believe are guiding companies today. The report also contains key considerations corporate real estate leaders must examine when evaluating long- and short-term business decisions that will determine the future of work.

Insights gathered from corporate real estate executives around the world have underscored a confluence of approaches in four core areas — talent, location, occupancy, and design and experience — that will be at the forefront of priorities and strategic outcomes during 2021 and beyond.

As to the eight core truths from the report:

  1. As employees return to the office, the desire for flexibility and choice will drive new behaviors in how and when they engage with spaces of all kinds. A key consideration for real estate owners and managers is how often employees will occupy the physical office and under what circumstances and for what purpose.
  2. Workplace policy must be fundamentally reset in light of a more distributed workforce and hybrid workstyles, which will require a consideration of the policies and guidelines needed to suit employee choice and maintain a culture of accountability, productivity, wellness, etc.
  3. Decentralized office strategies are emerging as a tool to support existing employees and attract new ones. The question is, would providing a more decentralized office strategy satisfy employees that are highly mobile and, in some cases, encumbered by commute times?
  4. In the United States, migration to lower cost, high-quality-of-life markets has been a hallmark of the past decade and likely will continue, which begs this question: Where does talent exist to satisfy goals of diversity and evolving skillsets while maintaining an advantage over competition?
  5. Companies that embrace planning amid uncertainty can gain advantages in the current real estate market, but what must be taken into account is how companies can mitigate risk around long-term commitments and continue to develop progressive real estate strategies?
  6. Flexible solutions allow companies to more easily adjust their space usage, and occupier sentiment toward using flexible office space is growing. Given that trend, what requirements in your portfolio would be better suited for more flexible office space options?
  7. The reimagined workplace will be an essential part of ensuring the safety, wellness, productivity and engagement of a distributed workforce. The operative question is this: How does a company best assess its needs and then utilize its space to maximize the productivity of individuals, collaboration needs of teams, and effectiveness of events and meetings?
  8. Digital technologies will create smarter and more efficient buildings and a more connected employee experience, including creating safer and healthier workplaces. But companies must figure out how to upgrade and implement property technology, or “proptech,” to drive connectivity, innovation, environmental sustainability and efficiency in commercial real estate buildings.

As companies navigate 2021 and beyond, commercial real estate’s critical contributions to strategic business outcomes will be more evident and essential than ever before, the CBRE report concludes. Multidisciplinary teams will be critical to keeping interconnected real estate decisions front of mind as companies mitigate risk and develop the future of their long-term footprint, talent strategy and employee experience.

Read the complete CBRE report at this link:


Mike Consol ( is editor of Real Assets Adviser. Follow him on Twitter @mikeconsol to read his latest postings.

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