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Getting the C-Suite “on board” with corporate real estate strategy

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

I recently had the opportunity to discuss this interesting topic with real estate expert René Buck, founder and CEO of BCI Global – a strategic consulting firm specialized in finding its clients new business locations for manufacturing, distribution, support, software development, and so on. At the beginning of our conversation (which is available as free podcast), I asked him to share his expertise on how certain developments – such as Brexit, trading conflicts, risks of IP infringement, and the recent war for talent – are affecting decisions around new business locations. He gave some examples that firmly indicate one cannot just let the cards fall where they may around these changes, and that these changes need to be anticipated and taken into account when devising a location strategy and policy.

THE question for CRE Managers:

An important question that I asked 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 do not want to give away too much of the answer René gave because I want to encourage you to listen to our podcast, but one important realization 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, markets have finally been growing again all over the world, including in South-East Asia, China, Europe, and the USA. This has recharged 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 a new operation location is now heavily dependent on the available talent in that specific location. 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 realize their function is moving from supportive to strategic, and that they should work to 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 organization becoming 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 the 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. The 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 fine-tuned to corporate strategy.

In addition to these specific takeaways, René Buck gave a lot more food for thought throughout our conversation, which we are sharing now as the first in our podcast series on real estate. 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 around topics relevant to real estate. We hope to provide you with a multitude of views and perspectives on the business of real estate.

Erik Jaspers is Global Product Strategy Director.

About the author

Erik Jaspers | Global Product Strategy Director

Over the past 20 years, Erik has worked at Planon in several leadership positions concerning the development of Planon’s software solutions. Erik is a member of the IFMA Foundation’s board of trustees, chair of their Knowledge Management Taskforce, member of the IFMA Research Committee, and part of the “Workplace Evolutionaries” leadership team. He contributed to a prize-winning scientific publication on agile product management (2009), to IFMA’s “Work on the Move” (2011), and to “Work on the Move 2” (2016).

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