APAC Corporate Real Estate Review and 2021 Outlook

December 2020

Welcome to Aurex Group’s latest APAC Real Estate Market Review and 2021 Outlook. In this edition, our specialist team shines a light on Corporate Real Estate (CRE), a section of the market that has come to the forefront in 2020 as the world has grappled with generation-defining implications for organisations, employees and working environments.

With this transformational period due to maintain its influence into the New Year, businesses are relying on CRE professionals to shape the modern workplace and investment strategies going forward. As part of this review, Aurex Group spoke with CRE and Facilities Management leaders across APAC to gain insight into the evolution and where the future of workplace is heading.


Corporate Real Estate Overview

 

As explained in the recent CBRE and CoreNet Global joint report on the transformation of Corporate Real Estate – workplace has emerged front and centre and CRE professionals’ critical contributions to strategic business outcomes are more pronounced than ever before.

Here we explore how CRE professionals are managing this shift from traditional approaches and service deliveries to models extending the scope and remit of their function.

The CRE profession has found a new seat at the table defining company strategy and future planning. It is emerging as a key player in guiding business recovery and resiliency going forward. While it cannot be denied that the future of work strategy was already evolving, the implications of 2020 have accelerated this upheaval.

From Aurex Group’s discussions, and backed-up by the CBRE and CoreNet Global report, health, safety, environment, cost-savings, workplace strategy and change management have emerged as leading priorities for businesses. CRE professionals are being called upon as master collaborators helping to retool strategies, teams, workplace environments and portfolios to help organisations emerge as strong as possible.

With a surge in requests for CRE services over the course of the year, Real Estate teams have increased their reliance on third-party providers by 25% to keep up with the COVID demand. Large-scale government clients have also been calling on outsourced solutions, some of them first-generation, with inhouse teams unable to respond on the scale needed and risk mitigation being a driving factor.

CRE services have never been more in demand and the core offering never more disrupted. The Real Estate mantra is undergoing a fast-paced evolution from ‘location, location, location’ to ‘digital, digital, digital’.


Engaging Teams in 2021

How are leading professionals maintaining engagement and employee morale for CRE professionals going into 2021?

While technology has been a great communication tool and connector, it cannot replace face-to-face interaction. The move to online has impacted employees in differing ways and management will need to invest in personal and individual communication to ensure employees are coping with the transition.

One of the examples shared to Aurex Group was a ‘Real Estate Employee of the Month’ programme to recognise and thank front line teams. Offering professional development, well-produced and interactive virtual events and new learning opportunities are also being employed to maintain engagement.

Communication has improved across businesses as a result of remote and ‘Work from Home’ measures and leaders are capitalising on this opportunity and increased revenue to innovate engagement activities.

The Future of ‘Return to Work’

Across the region, companies are facing changing restrictions which are dictating ‘return to work’ strategies. With mass vaccine rollouts not expected until the middle of 2021, at the earliest, businesses are preparing for further work disruption over the next 12 months.

CRE leaders are looking to leading examples in the ‘return to work’ space to inform new best practices. Tech giants such as Twitter have confirmed employees will be working away from the office for the next 6 to 12 months. What are CRE professionals learning from these digital companies regarding how they work, think, communicate, mentor, learn and manage to maintain their businesses from a majority remote working situation?

Some companies have invested in staff members’ private workspaces, providing cash payments for workers to fit their own homes. Others are negotiating with parking companies to subsidise onsite parking costs to reduce the reliance on public transport during this time.

Not only are large CRE teams facing these implications themselves but they are also at the forefront at managing and implementing change going forward.

Implications for Portfolio Strategies

Over recent years, the trend for ‘activity-based working’ has defined Real Estate portfolios. How are strategies being reformed now to accommodate a future where working environments will be designed not around the company but the individual?

 

CRE leaders are encouraging businesses and management to understand people and their roles at a human level. What do they need in order to be productive and successful? Once this research has been done, a Real Estate portfolio can be designed around these needs.

 

By committing to taking care of employees, employees will be able to care of the company.

Outlook for CRE Opportunities

 

 

Taking a talent acquisition perspective, there has been a significant retooling of strategy and team structures. This movement is creating opportunities to progress up the ladder and move into new areas of the CRE business.

We are seeing emerging leaders pursuing further education opportunities in organisational development and psychology, training and development, and ICT to broaden their skillsets.

Technology will play a leading role going forward and companies are calling on this digital experience to lead workplaces and offerings. Many of these strategies centre on communication, collaborative platforms and assessing workplace efficiencies presenting opportunities to upskill and differentiate from traditional roles.  

With the sector facing increased demand, the traditionally employer-led market is now experiencing a candidate-led shift. While Aurex Group is working with many excellent CRE candidates, they are not on the market for long and are receiving multiple job offers, driving up salary expectations. This is being compounded by candidates in secure roles who are cautious about taking new opportunities while restrictions are likely to continue impacting work routines over the next 12 months.

If you’re a Corporate Real Estate professional or employer seeking to further understand the hiring landscape, please connect with our specialist team below for a confidential discussion.

Candice Egan

Director, Australia
E candice@aurexgroup.com

Ben Watt

Managing Director | Partner, Hong Kong
E ben@aurexgroup.com

Chris Kiernan

Managing Director | Partner, Singapore
E chris@aurexgroup.com

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