With every chief executive eager to attract and retain great people, now is a good time to reflect on the war for talent that faces organisations and how to engage those great people through an enhanced workplace.

Amanda Clack

Optimising human capital to meet the skills shortage is fast becoming the most important driver behind occupiers’ property decisions. Corporate real estate (CRE) strategies focus on this challenge through attracting talent and engaging employees.

Those born after 1997 – known as Gen 2020 or Gen Z – often choose their employer based on their qualitative, more than their quantitative, merits. The result is a pressure on CRE provision and workplace like never before to provide high-quality, sustainable and healthy environments in which people can enjoy being at work and, as a result, be more productive. 


This links with our CBRE 2019 Occupier Survey, which identifies four major levers through which companies are seeking to use real estate as a way of influencing and enhancing their appeal to skilled labour:

  • Procurement and fit-out strategy that offers favourable lease options in selecting properties. The survey notes that 68% of occupiers see employee engagement as a key part of the CRE strategy and that 59% are prepared to pay at least 10% more for grade-A rents that offer high-amenity ‘service agreement’ space.
  • Flexible space strategy is at the heart of the corporate appetite, with 20% of companies expecting to make significant use of flexible space over the next three years. The growth of this type of office environment for corporate real estate, it appears, is here to stay, providing an adaptable solution for companies when location and employee numbers need to change.
  • User experience (UX) strategy across workplace, amenity and service is a clear emerging trend that will evolve into wider adoption. This view is backed by the fact that 33% of companies have plans to hire a UX lead and 66% are prepared to pay a premium for a building in which the landlord provides an enhanced UX offer.
  • Technology strategy is being driven by disruption in AI and machine learning, with a large majority (70%) of companies intending to raise their level of real estate technology investment in a people-centric direction.

To bring together an overall CRE strategy, there is a clear need to focus on attracting – and retaining – talent. Moreover, agility is essential to respond to current workplace trends. This means using technology coupled with a people-centric approach to create employee satisfaction. This can then be measured to drive productivity and organisational benefits.

Successful CRE occupiers will have a strategy in place for the convergence of skills, space and service provision. This requires collaboration between business support functions – particularly real estate, HR and technology – to provide the workplace of the future for the employees of today.

Amanda Clack is an executive director and head of strategic advisory at CBRE