The future of real estate with 3 CBRE alumni

The commercial real estate industry is experiencing multiplier effects as the workplace moves from a traditional 9-5 model to something much more flexible. CBRE alumni Lauren Schwalb, Caroline Davis, and Mike Palladino share their expert insights on the changing workplace and what the future of CRE looks like.

Below is the full video, as well as a few takeaways.


The importance of the office for onboarding

The office has become more than just a place to work, with companies using the office as a way to immerse new employees into their workplace culture. During the pandemic, the lack of in-office experiences took its toll on how onboarding played out for many. “[Cameo] has actually done some really interesting surveying and case studies for their own office. They were able to determine that it actually took them nine months during the pandemic to get new sales professionals up to the same level as they were able to do in 90 days when people were in the office.” — Mike Palladino

Understanding that your workplace speaks for your company — from brand to culture and everything in between —and having a place to absorb what a company is made of is essential in the onboarding experience.

The questions workplace leaders should be asking

The list of questions about what the future of work looks is a priority for many workplace leaders in the post-pandemic world of work. “Things are changing so rapidly, so what’s top of mind is how do you manage and plan for the new normal? What’s the future of work? How do you bring your employees back to the space? What’s important to employees when they’re back on-site? I think what we know for certain post-pandemic is that flexibility is critical.” — Caroline Davis

Answering these questions requires more than just assumptions and surveys. It requires measuring what is working, how spaces are being used, and feedback on how needs are changing. This combination of insights can help to support the redesign of more effective and enjoyable workplaces.

Amenities help get employees into the office

Getting people back to the office requires more than free coffee and a warm seat. People are creatures of comfort, and that comfort has been provided by their home office setup for the last two years. Incorporating those comforts of home with enhancements in the workplace can give people a reason to want to come into the office. “I think bridging the gap between that home life and work life is super helpful, so obviously there are lots of different amenities and services that you can provide. Dry cleaning services, meal prep discounts, car wash, or refueling during the day if I’m commuting. I hate getting gas; it’s my least favorite thing. Having that option there would probably get me into the office for that day. So think about things that can save employees time as it relates to amenities.”  — Lauren Schwalb

CRE needs time to collect utilization data to inform future decisions

Like many industries, CRE can no longer assume what will happen. People can no longer go by what has worked in the past, as the future of work has created an uncharted territory. Decade-long leases and the thinking behind getting more space have been halted by the knowledge of understanding how spaces are used before signing up for more. “…I heard a lot of real estate leaders talking about short-term extensions. So, [they’re] doing one-year term extensions to buy themselves more time to [collect] data to understand how many people are coming into the office. How are people engaging with the space when they’re there? Then think about [how] to go forward. I think right now it’s either an extension, a shorter-term lease to buy time to understand the trends that are going to inform their future portfolio needs.” — Caroline Davis

The future of the workplace and commercial real estate are inextricably linked. Landlords and occupiers must work together to improve building utilization. The keys to doing this are flexible policies, utilization data, and thinking about space differently.