CRE execs as “experience managers” — see what CoreNet Global’s in-depth study reveals about the future of corporate real estate worldwide

by Brianna Crandall — February 15, 2019 — In a sweeping, global study of the corporate real estate (CRE) profession, worldwide CRE association CoreNet Global has identified the most influential trends through 2025 and beyond. Results and insights from the study have been released as a robust series of white papers, FutureForward 2025, with broad applicability to other professional associations seeking to ensure their relevance and indispensability for years to come.

According to CoreNet Global Chair David Kamen, MCR.h:

It’s not farfetched that the term “corporate real estate” might not exist in 2025. We are more now about work enablement and experience and that might not come through CRE. It’s more about engagement and not about desks and chairs anymore. It’s a holistic look at the space.

In developing FutureForward, CoreNet Global embarked on an 18-month initiative in 2017 to envision the association model of the future in four key areas: belonging, convening, learning, and information and content. Workgroups met virtually and around the world with futurists, economists, sociologists, and other subject matter experts to develop forecasts. The aim of the study is to ensure that CoreNet Global remains relevant to its members as the profession — and associations — evolve.

Among the trends identified in FutureForward:

  • The CRE role in major corporations is becoming more strategic in support of the business’s requirements. A common view among the focus groups and member interviews for the FutureForward 2025 initiative is that employee experience is increasingly an important goal and needs to be thoughtfully addressed on the CRE agenda. Some believe that CRE executives will become “experience managers” that offer employees an à la carte workplace experience with a menu of services, location and support.
  • Corporate real estate increasingly needs to focus on employees, using techniques such as design thinking. That will require more reliance on soft skills — a natural curiosity, being able to listen, having a high degree of empathy, being creative and taking risks — rather than traditional hard skills such as financial analysis.
  • The next-generation workplace likely will be built around workplace networks that will support mobile workplace complexity. Increasingly, corporate real estate will need to provide technology-enabled workplace networks that will allow for greater agility and flexibility for both the organization and the employee, as well as long-term enterprise workplace effectiveness for the corporation.
  • The gig economy — driven by an increasingly contingent workforce composed of freelancers, temporary contract workers, and independent contractors — is expected to make a powerful impact on how organizations are structured, how they function and how they are staffed.
  • Large corporations are relying more on outsourcing partners as in-house CRE teams are becoming smaller, leaner and more focused on strategy.
  • Automation will be a game changer, but it might not be quite as quick to materialize as some expect.
  • The need to understand technology will continue to grow as data analytics, AI, robotics and automation drives change across corporate real estate, as well as the enterprise itself, and other sectors. By 2025, CRE will require more digital business skills, including expertise in areas such as business intelligence, AI, cognitive reasoning and thinking.
  • Risk management is growing in importance and impacts the entire breadth of the CRE function.

CoreNet Global CEO Angela Cain observed:

The built environment is affected by a number of external factors, including the environment, economy, shifting demographics, geopolitics and technological advancements that will continue to evolve for better or worse in the years ahead. CoreNet Global will remain relevant by looking ahead of the curve and providing our members with the insights they need to stay abreast of these changes as they focus on indispensability and relevancy in the year 2025 and beyond.

Project partners included representatives from ASAE, Experient/Maritz Global Events, Freeman, Foresight Alliance, Signature i, Velvet Chainsaw and the Packard Group, along with executive members from leading companies including Amazon, Twitter, WeWork, Cisco, Oracle, AT&T, Standard Chartered Bank, Unilever, CBRE, JLL, Cushman and Wakefield, Colliers International and Newmark Knight Frank. ASAE’s recently published Foresight Works Drivers of Change research was also used to help inform project participants.

The project’s key forecasts indicate a strong desire in the future for the following from an association: friction-less, trusted and authentic member experiences; just-in-time and on-demand access to information; digital-physical integration of events; events that break time, distance and language barriers; tribal, organic microlearning and co-creation.

The FutureForward 2025 series of white papers on the future of belonging, convening, learning, and information and content is available from the CoreNet Global website.