What will work and the workplace look like in the “new normal”? CRE pros around the world weigh in

by Brianna Crandall — July 17, 2020 — More than 1,000 corporate real estate (CRE) professionals from 35 countries have created a vision of the return to work and the workplace after pandemic shutdowns, through global CRE nonprofit CoreNet Global’s COVID-19 Hackathon, a Virtual Ideation Experience.

When and how would workers return to the offices and the manufacturing plants? What would those places look like when they got there? How would employers ensure safety as we all collectively tried to restart the global economy?

And what would be permanently changed? Has the image of hundreds of people charging down subway tunnels and streets in Manhattan, London and Tokyo on their way to work, from nine to five, become an anachronism practically overnight? And what images would replace it? Temperature screenings, social distance, touchless elevators and one-way directional traffic patterns in the office?

Would the new normal ever feel normal?

Demonstrating insight, knowledge and forethought, the teams provided written plans and presented a series of webinars illustrating their views of the short and long-term futures of the core components of corporate real estate (see below for links):

  • Space utilization and metrics
  • Distributed work
  • The autonomous workplace
  • Environment and climate change
  • Manufacturing and industrial
  • Workplace wellbeing
  • Executive Summary

Angela Cain, CEO of CoreNet Global, stated:

The end result of all this work is a collective imagining of the workplace and a road map for corporate real estate professionals as they navigate their own paths forward. We are so grateful to the teams, for their collaborative spirit, depth of knowledge and willingness to share their views. We think this will be an indispensable tool.

In addition to the Hackathon, during the course of the pandemic the nonprofit CoreNet Global continued surveying its more than 11,000 members worldwide to track expectations and predictions, releasing the following highlights:

  • 94% of end users think that expanded use of remote working will last beyond the current crisis (up from 89% in the previous survey)
  • 94% of end users surveyed think that expanded use of virtual meetings (e.g., vs. face-to-face meetings) will last beyond the current crisis (unchanged from the previous survey)
  • 69% of end users surveyed say that their company’s real estate footprint will shrink as a result of increased work from home (up from 51% in the previous survey)
  • 70% of respondents say that real estate projects have been put on hold (up from 67% in the previous survey)
  • 84% of survey respondents indicated that they plan to bring employees back in waves; only 16% reported plans to bring all employees back at the same time.

CoreNet Global’s membership surveys from March and April were covered in a May 25 FMLink article. The results of the membership surveys conducted May 13–18 and May 27 – June 16 are available on the group’s website.

Thought Leadership Sponsors of the Hackathon include leading industry service providers and supporters BHDP, Cognitive Corp, Colliers, Comfy, FM: Systems, Freespace, HNI Global, HOK, Interior Architects, RefineRE/BenchCore, Stantec, Teknion, VergeSense, WeWork and Whitney.

Contributing sponsors include Cushman & Wakefield, Edge, Fischer and HLW.

The CoreNet Global Hackathon is supported by several related industry associations: Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC); American Society of Interior Designers (ASID); Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA International); CCIM Institute; Counselors of Real Estate (CRE); IIDA, the Commercial Interior Design Association; Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM); and the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR).

To view the final reports for each area listed above as covered in the CoreNet Global COVID-19 Hackathon , visit the Hackathon Results webpage. CoreNet Global also offers an extensive list of links to COVID-19/coronavirus business continuity resources on its website.

Atlanta, Georgia-headquartered CoreNet Global represents more than 11,000 executives in 50 countries with strategic responsibility for the real estate assets of large corporations.