Published On January 21, 2021The impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been profound for corporate real estate professionals as they rethink and rapidly reconfigure their workplaces to adapt to the “new normal.
The impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been profound for corporate real estate professionals as they rethink and rapidly reconfigure their workplaces to adapt to the “new normal. In our Mighty Guide eBook, 7 Experts on Reimagining the Workplace, we interview real estate professionals on the impact of COVID-19 on their roles and their employees’ well-being as well as how they anticipate moving forward. In this blog post, Brian Holtze shares his perspective on how corporate real estate professionals must address a new set of challenges and opportunities.
How can corporate real estate professionals foster better cross-functional working relationships with their colleagues?
Your organization and team members must be resilient enough to withstand the next potential natural disaster. To do that it requires strong cross-functional collaboration among human resources, information technology, business continuity and real estate. All of these teams need to come together if you’re going to have a truly resilient organization.
I think if real estate is trying to go it alone, it’s most likely not going to be successful. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re talking about getting masks, so you had to involve procurement, especially in the early days when things were hard to get hold of. You’re talking about following local legislation, so you have to have legal employee relations involved.
You must determine who needs to come into the office and create a staffing plan that supports physical distancing. The important thing, to me, is that you need cross-functional representation to come up with that plan.
What’s most important in this cross-functional collaboration, in your view?
It’s sharing ideas. It’s coming to the table with an open mind and saying, “Listen, we want to help you. We want to make sure that we’re optimizing our response for your needs.” Then, it’s just a matter of coming up with ideas and being creative. As long as everyone is willing to listen and work together, you can make real progress and respond effectively.
This process of sharing ideas took place organically during the pandemic. It wasn’t hard to get people to buy in because we were all in the same boat. There was an immediate understanding of what needed to happen. It’s important to make sure that you plan for this kind of cross-functional collaboration in the future so that your business is resilient and prepared for whatever comes next.
What are some other ways in which corporate real estate professionals will need to prepare for the future?
We will need to rethink what our office spaces look like and what they’re being used for. I think that it’s going to be more about collaboration and bringing people together. When you think longer term about reworking office spaces—five or ten years down the road—you need to consider the people in college and students attending school from home over Microsoft Teams and Zoom. When those people come into the workforce, they’re going to have a much different mindset about when, where, and how they get their work done than the people who came into the workforce before them.
Ten years from now, the workforce coming in is going to influence things quite a bit. I don’t think many people are talking or thinking about that aspect of our work just yet. This change in the workforce is going to affect our ability to recruit the best talent. When it comes to recruiting this next generation, it’s not going to be about offering amenities like a foosball or ping pong table. Five or ten years ago, that was often the draw—especially in tech companies. I believe it’s going to be different this time, though, and corporate real estate professionals are going to have to think creatively about how businesses are going to attract talent in the future.