Business real estate: managers forced to be flexible

After the wave of mass telecommuting at the height of the health crisis, companies are being forced to adapt to the new aspirations of their employees. And their desire to work remotely is getting in the way of managers’ real estate strategies.

This is demonstrated by the second barometer of tertiary establishments in France carried out by the Association of Property Directors (ADI) and the company EY. It is based on a survey conducted since November 2021 of 265 managers (HRDs, property managers, CFOs, general managers) and analysis of several thousand fulfillment locations over the last 10 years.

2.1: The number of days employees want to spend at home in the future

The office, a workspace like any other

Among the main trends pointed out, the authors of the study point to the relativization of the very concept of “office“. They predict that over the next three years, employees will spend 2.8 days on company premises and 2.2 days away (home, coworking, third place). Already, they argue that 42% of workers in the Ile-de-France region can work remotely in 2022, compared to 20% before the health crisis, using figures from the Paris Region Institute. “The office then becomes a space among others in the same ecosystem that redefines the social contract between the company and its employees.“, they write on their barometer.

A new social contract between employers and employees

An office, but why? Massive teleworking has proven, if necessary, that many tasks can be performed remotely, without the need for a physical presence. As the idea becomes firmly established in our mores, the question of the use of premises arises. “Employee expectations are changing (…), the role of the office is being reinforced around the functions of sociability, collaboration and training”, advance the study.

And to bring their employees back into the fold, companies have no choice but to rethink their walls. The office must regain a strong appeal, namely through the establishment of collective services (premium catering, events), even if this means borrowing codes from the residential and hotel sectors (garden, terraces, etc.). The trick is to offer employees activities and services, often collective, that they can’t find at home to make them want to go back to the office.

56% of managers believe offices are essential to re-enchanting the employee experience.

Flexibility and optimization

As a corollary of all these changes, companies need the flexibility to reorganize their workspaces. According to the study, many of them would abandon the sacrosanct Open space and its fewquiet areas» for the benefit of modular spaces according to the needs of meetings and gatherings.

The management of spaces is thus modified. “It is less about managing the stock of jobs than managing the occupancy flows according to the activity loads, according to indicators borrowed from the hotel industry: presence at the location, sharing rate, availability.», Analyze the authors of the barometer.

In order to better adapt to these changes, managers also need more flexibility in concessions. The traditional 3/6/9 no longer works in this new paradigm. Alternative solutions (sublease, operated office, precarious lease) already represent 10-15% of the market and are growing. They would give them the flexibility to sometimes absorb a stream of growth, sometimes manage a downsizing.

Optimizing your spaces means reorganizing them, but also reducing them when necessary. 51% of surveyed managers plan to reduce the surface area of ​​their facility by up to 30%. A will that is already translated into action: “The surface of new rentals on the Île-de-France fell by 25% on average compared to before the crisis, we can read on the barometer. Between 2020 and 2021, according to Option Finance, demand for offices increased in areas of less than 1,000 m² (+44%). In offices from 1,000 to 5,000 m², it increased by only 6%.»

Evolution of tertiary establishments

2020: -10% tertiary establishments

2021: +26% tertiary establishments. 1,386 establishments or extensions of headquarters, R&D centers, back-offices or sales agencies in 2021.

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