Hong Kong, June 11, 2014 — CBRE today launches a special report: Workplace Strategy—Why One Size Does Not Fit All. The report refers to the way that work places are structured to fit with a company’s objectives, both in terms of employee engagement and in terms of managing costs. This can involve strategies such as hot desking and collaborative working environments.
In recent years—particularly since the onset of the global financial downturn in 2008—it has become critical for businesses to reduce operational and real estate expenditure and this has created the momentum to overcome other elements of resistance to non-traditional solutions, while rapid advances in mobile and information technology are making new options available.
Key highlights of the report include:
Asia Pacific set to capitalize on workplace strategy initiatives having already driven down costs and densities to maximum potential
Region’s youthful demographic profile conducive to adoption of new workplace strategies
Asia Pacific may be on the verge of transformation, due to a confluence of factors
Workplace strategy often promotes more sustainable and ‘greener’ business practices by helping to lower Greenhouse Gas (GHS) emissions due to smaller real estate footprint, operations and business travel.
Asia Pacific: on Verge of Transformation
In Asia Pacific several factors have converged over the past two years to create what many regard as an ideal environment for the successful implementation of workplace strategy. Companies in the region have already driven down costs and densities to maximum potential and reduced space usage, and are tied to comparatively short leases compared to firms outside of Asia Pacific. As they come under further pressure to make additional savings and implement changes, many are looking toward more cutting-edge initiatives—including alternative workplace strategy—to further drive down spending on real estate related expenses.
“Asia Pacific’s combination of youth, mobility and adoption of new technology presents a significant opportunity. Thinking around workplace strategy has traditionally been led by companies in the West, particularly by multinational consulting and technology firms which first embraced alternative workplace strategy principles in the 1990s. However, Asia Pacific companies are now beginning to break though. Leading Chinese and Japanese companies are already looking at introducing workplace strategy processes and practices,” says Peter Andrew, Director, Workplace Strategies Asia at CBRE.
Although efficiency is the main driver at their early stage of adoption in Asia Pacific, companies are now increasingly creating workplace strategies that align with broader business objectives and strategies to drive a wider agenda of increased employee engagement, retention and motivation of talent, business productivity and broader cultural change.
“We are on the verge of a transformation in the nature of work and workplace in Asia Pacific. Carefully considered and well executed workplace strategy is another tool in the leadership kitbag to create and maintain competitive advantage,” says Mr Andrew.
Whilst factors in Asia Pacific are extremely positive for workplace strategy, there are challenges. The report finds that there remains a significant lack of understanding around the practice, partly because of the lack of expertise within corporations and suppliers compared with the vast size of the region. Meanwhile, leaders in the region are unaware of, or misunderstand, the process of developing a workplace strategy, and fear ill-considered ‘fad’ ideas. Moreover, some well-meaning real estate practitioners can misunderstand key concepts and spread misconceptions.
“There is a misconception that workplace strategy is purely about the physical office space. This often leads some companies to focus purely on the design, layout and operation of their office whilst ignoring behavior and culture. A focus purely on efficiency can be destructive,” says Mr Andrew.
Other challenges include the enormous size of markets such as China and India. One or two high profile workplace strategy projects can have a big impact in a small market and encourage other companies to follow, but this is not always easy in such large and diverse countries. Engaging with employees can also prove to be a challenge. In many countries within the region it goes against cultural norms for staff, particularly those at a more junior level, to speak up and tell their superiors that they want change. At the same time, however, the report found that it is often comparatively easier to implement change in this region once a decision has been made, given the strong command and control culture that exists in a number of markets.
Neither CBRE nor its affiliated companies make any warranties or claims on the implied accuracy of the information contained herein.
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CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBG), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (in terms of 2014 revenue). The Company has more than 70,000 employees (excluding affiliates), and serves real estate owners, investors and occupiers through more than 400 offices (excluding affiliates) worldwide. CBRE offers strategic advice and execution for property sales and leasing; corporate services; property, facilities and project management; mortgage banking; appraisal and valuation; development services; investment management; and research and consulting. Please visit our website at www.cbre.com.