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17 June 2019

Getting the c-level “on board” with corporate real estate strategy

Working at Planon for the past 20 years, my experience is that the market of corporate real estate and facility management can be extremely dynamic. Especially nowadays, we see that global societal, geopolitical, and economic changes are significantly affecting business. These external influences force organisations, including their corporate real estate management, to be much more agile and responsive than ever before.

Podcast series: The critical role of location

To inspire business leaders and real estate professionals all over the world about how corporate real estate can contribute to the corporate business strategy, we are organising a podcast series. The first podcast is available now!

To the podcast

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to discuss this interesting topic with real estate expert René Buck, founder and CEO of BCI Global – a strategy consulting firm specialised in finding its clients new business locations for manufacturing, distribution, support, software development, and so on. Beginning our conversation (which is available as free podcast), I asked him to share his knowledge on how certain developments – such as Brexit, trading conflicts, risks of IP infringement, and the recent war for talent – are affecting decisions about new business locations. He gave some examples that firmly indicated one cannot sit back, and that these changes need to be anticipated and taken into account when devising a location policy.

THE question for CRE Managers:

An even more interesting question, that I really wanted to put to René, was: “Now that these changes are happening, what is a Corporate Real Estate Manager’s license to act in order to align their expectations with overall business objectives?” In other words: “How do you get the c-level on board with your newly adjusted CRE strategy?”

I don’t want to give away too much of the answer René gave because I want to encourage you to listen to the podcast, but one important realisation is that we are currently experiencing completely different conditions in terms of business development, influencing location policies and hence real estate strategies. After a long-term economic recession, for the last year or two markets have finally been growing again all over the world, including in South-East Asia, China, Europe, and the USA. This has created a war for talent, changing our main concern from “how can we operate most cost effectively?” to “how can we obtain and retain the right people?”. This new paradigm requires CRE to collaborate with human resources (HR), because setting up new operations is now heavily dependent on the available talent in a specific location of the world. René even said that “the upcoming scarcity of talent in whatever skills set the company needs, is becoming one of the most important location factors for any type of operation.”

So how to act?

It is crucial that managers in CRE and HR realise their function is moving from supportive to strategic, and that they should convince the c-level of this too. So how to get their attention?

  1. Make personal connections. Connect with HR and make the c-level see that both departments are strategic partners. Convince the executives that the success of the organisation is more and more driven by talent. And if plans are being made to obtain and retain talent, you need the right strategy and investment in a building’s location, the building itself, and the workplace environment inside.
  2. Be proactive. You can only do this by being proactive! For c-level to understand the war for talent is an issue of corporate strategy, show some kind of proof that the right people will only be obtained when a business is located in a certain geographical area.
  3. Think globally. If you cannot find the right people at existing locations, evaluate options for and merit of (re)locating the business. Key here is to stay closely connected to business strategy as developed by the c-level. Join forces with HR, think out of the box, but stay tuned to corporate strategy.

Besides these specific take-aways, René Buck gave a lot more ‘food for thought’. That is why we are sharing our complete conversation in a podcast. Are you a business leader or real estate professional? Sign up on our website to directly listen to all the detailed insights for free! You will also get access to more upcoming podcasts where we will have conversations with other thought leaders around topics relevant to real estate. We hope to provide you with a multitude of views and perspectives on the business of real estate.

Enjoy!

Erik Jaspers
Global Product Strategy Director