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  • Writer's pictureRealFacts Editorial Team

Creating Smaller, Better-Optimized Portfolios: Strategies for Real Estate Leaders

commercial real estate

As the landscape of corporate real estate continues to evolve, aligning business demands with intelligent portfolio strategies becomes paramount. Two CBRE occupier leaders, Whitley Collins, Global President of Advisory & Transactions, and Lenny Beaudoin, Global Head of Workplace Strategy, offer ten key strategies for real estate leaders and business executives to navigate these changes successfully.

1. Gaining Alignment

Aligning corporate real estate strategies with the needs of various stakeholders, including business leaders, CEOs, CFOs, CHROs, and employees, is essential yet challenging. The pandemic introduced new complexities, with more leaders participating in real estate decisions as employees seek both flexibility and office presence. Real estate leaders must become strategic partners, contributing to their organization’s competitive advantage by understanding and integrating the diverse needs of all stakeholders.

Graph of top five goals of CRE teams

2. Stop the Mandates

Mandates alone are ineffective in promoting workplace attendance and can alienate employees. Creating an appealing and beneficial work environment is essential. Gensler’s U.S. Workplace Survey reveals that only 19% of U.S. workers want to work away from the office full-time. Employers should focus on making office experiences more meaningful, much like retail companies attract customers by creating engaging environments.

3. Align Labor & Location Strategies

Labor costs constitute 80% of a company's expenses, making the alignment of labor and location strategies crucial. Access to talent is vital, with emerging markets becoming hotspots for talent and capital investment. Real estate strategies should integrate supply chain, retail analytics, and customer data analysis, ensuring a comprehensive approach that considers both business and labor priorities.

Chart of top organizational expenses

4. Develop a Compelling Value Proposition

To encourage employees to return to the office, organizations need to develop a compelling value proposition. A global financial organization successfully increased office attendance by highlighting the benefits of in-office work, such as fostering collaboration, learning, and mentoring. Communicating these benefits through social media instead of traditional channels resonated more effectively with employees.

Graphic of the components of a compelling workplace

5. Explore Alternative Financial Structures

CFOs must consider alternative financial structures for capital projects, including revolving lines of credit, credit tenant leases, synthetic leases, and developer build-to-suits. These methods use credit, preserve cash, and provide new ways of funding. Involving the CFO in these discussions is critical for making informed financial decisions.

Graphic of alternative financial structures

6. Create Vibrancy

Creating a vibrant office environment directly impacts office utilization. According to CBRE Workplace & Occupancy Analytics, offices that feel desolate deter employees. CBRE’s CEO challenged the organization to design vibrant, connected office environments that feel at least two-thirds full at all times. Flexible furniture standards and varied spaces cater to different working styles, ensuring the office remains dynamic and appealing.

7. Turn the Tables with Owners

With $2 trillion of commercial property debt expiring over the next three years, power is shifting from landlords to tenants. Tenants should leverage this shift to negotiate more lease flexibility and enhanced workplace experience amenities. Understanding the financial status of their building allows tenants to negotiate from a position of strength.

Graph of commercial debt maturation

8. Take a Holistic Approach

A comprehensive amenity package is crucial for attracting and retaining talent. Real estate organizations must align location, labor priorities, portfolio strategy, and user-experience research. Success requires hiring the right team, including change management, workplace experience, and smart facilities management experts, to deliver exceptional guest experiences.

Graphic of components of a comprehensive amenity package

9. Customize Scorecards

Customizing business analytics and reports for different stakeholders ensures alignment and understanding. A Global Accounting Firm leader learned that a one-size-fits-all approach to presenting data can lead to wasted effort. Consulting stakeholders on their specific needs ensures tools are applicable and reflect both business and employee requirements.

10. Chief Places Officer

The future of real estate will likely include the evolution of the corporate real estate executive into a Chief Places Officer. This role prioritizes employees' workplace experience, treating them like consumers. Such executives will need superior business acumen, collaboration skills, and visionary thinking to lead the future of work proactively.

Graphic of traits of a chief places officer


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