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With workforce on the move, flexibility is key to modern design.

More and more corporate leaders are looking to their corporate real estate (CRE) team to develop solutions to improve their bottom lines and to help address the changing business needs of today's work culture. Location is no longer the number one issue concerning developing real estate strategies. Providing flexible solutions is the key driving force in building a successful real estate environment today.

Flexibility in leasing options to accommodate changing corporate structure resulting from mergers, acquisitions and / or right-sizing is essential to providing real estate solutions that can be as fluid as the evolving corporation. Sale-lease back as an option has become more appealing as it allows for flexibility in the portfolio without tying a company down.

CRE teams are looking for workplace solutions that can quickly and easily morph and adapt to the changing needs of the worker as well, so providing flexibility in the workplace is key.

Alternative officing and distributed work solutions are increasingly being considered to provide flexibility that addresses the changing work dynamics of today's workforce. Baby boomers are reaching retirement age and looking for more options while they ease into retirement. Their desire for flexibility, and the Gen-X desire for a better work-life balance, is driving the distributed workforce movement.

A work culture is being created where employees can work anytime from anywhere, hence, distributed workforce. This enables CRE professionals to look for the type of different workplace solutions that alternative officing environments create, such as hoteling, free-addressing and telecommuting.

A new wave of technology, including personal digital assistants (PDAs) and wireless communications, is entering the mainstream and enabling a migrating, distributed workforce as well. As wireless communication improves and more and more information is assessable via electronic means, workers are free to access their peers, files and the worldwide web from almost anywhere. And the cost to connect staff remotely, and the ease of doing so, have improved dramatically making working off-site a more viable option.

Designing a technology infrastructure that can support remote work and can easily accept and adapt to new advances is essential to the success of the work environment.

Evidence-based methodology is a core tool in defining and programming the requirements of the workforce and to developing real estate solutions. Addressing how staff use space, what type of space is really needed, and creating out-of-the-cubicle solutions that foster real estate savings and improve efficiencies, are essential in determining options for the real estate portfolio and work environment of today.

Developing flexible workplace strategies also requires a unique sensitivity to the important, but often disconnected, areas of business strategy, human resources, technology, architecture, real estate and change communication. The goal of many CRE teams today is to create workplaces that facilitate the goals of an organization and enable business strategies by creating a more fluid definition of the workspace.

Strategic analysis of the workspace combines the art and the science of design. Creating a flexible work environment and real estate portfolio is neither a onetime event nor a one-time solution; it is a continuing process of evaluating needs and assessing business goals.

CRE professionals, and their design teams, need to continue to look for ways to respond to the changing way people use workplaces.

In the workplace of today the competitive advantage comes from the speed and effectiveness with which corporations assess the need for change and enable it. Opportunities to adjust the definition of an office or the workspace; assignment and design of workspaces; the integration of technology; and accommodations that address a changing workforce with a different set of requirements, all point to the need for flexible real estate solutions.

Corporations that are willing to drive innovation by providing flexibility within their real estate portfolio and work environments, and learn from their actions, will adapt the quickest to the evolving business culture of today and in the future. Flexibility is the key element to a successful real estate solution today.


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Title Annotation:Interiors
Author:Sargent, Kay
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jan 17, 2007
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