The U.S. economic recovery is expected to continue its struggle to gain steam as concerns over the European economic situation will impact job growth and business investment. As a result tenant friendly conditions are expected to remain in place in most U.S. cities with the most robust recovery expected to occur in energy driven markets such as Houston, Dallas and Denver and technology driven markets such as Austin, San Francisco and San Jose.
Companies will continue to look at Corporate Real Estate as a vehicle to tighten efficiency and enhance productivity as well as implement smart growth with tenant favorable market conditions still in effect. Never before has the need for effective collaboration among the Corporate Real estate function, IT, Human Resources and the C-suite in the enterprise been more critical. Here are some of the top trends for Corporate Real Estate that are certain to continue in 2012.
Office Space Density: The New Workspace Metric
The general trend of the open plan workplace, where managers give up their private offices and join their employees in a more open office environment is becoming more commonplace. Open plan environments have grown in adoption partly due to the perceived cost saving, increased flexibility and the premise this strategy enhances team collaboration, productivity and communication.
The Activity Based Workplace
Many of the past assumptions and rules of the workplace are being challenged as technology and changing demographics in the workforce are impacting corporate real estate. Many companies have already started to experiment with flexible or new ways of working. Activity-based workplaces revolve around creating a workspace that is less hierarchical and fosters collaboration, personal accountability and flexibility. The workplace is designed to accommodate the various activities that office workers undertake rather than have a rigid allocation of space based on a person’s status in the hierarchy of the enterprise.
The Emergence of the Mobile Workforce
A more mobile workforce is without question a growing trend as technology and mobile devices allow employees to work from just about anywhere. While many employees still prefer the traditional office, the utilization of alternative works strategies are on the rise and how the workforce is distributed is a topic you will begin to hear more about from corporate real estate managers over the next couple of years.
Cloud Computing and Workspace Strategy
Employees are increasingly bringing their own personal tech tools to the workplace. The cloud plays a vital role in personal and employee development and is improving work/life flexibility and adding to overall productivity levels. 33% of companies adopted a cloud strategy to access information from any device rather than cut costs. The cloud makes it easier to work, communicate and stay informed from anywhere with internet access.
The Advent of Social Technologies
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter haven proven not to be fads and Social media has dramatically changed the way we share and connect with friends and family. As enterprise social networking starts to gain wider acceptance across businesses of all sizes, the C-suite is realizing tremendous benefits from increased collaboration and better communication and as this technology increasingly embeds within the enterprise it will have an even more profound impact on the way companies operate.
The Green Building Movement Escalates
Corporate sustainability is becoming a core consideration for successful businesses around the world and companies will continue their focus on corporate real estate as a contributor to sustainability and social responsibility initiatives. LEED certification will continue to gain weight in the building and facility selection process and increasingly move from the preference category to requirement. The concept of the “Green Lease” will become more commonplace and users will move away from investing in new construction and toward retrofitting existing assets. As of December 2011, total sq. ft. of LEED-certified existing buildings surpassed LEED-certified new construction by 15 million sq. ft. on a cumulative basis according the USGBC.