New research reveals attitudes to commercial property are shifting Wednesday 9 December 2015 PDF Print the role of property needs to be seen as more than a business support function, but one that is strategically linked back to the business - C-suite now views the workplace as a strategic asset London, 9th December 2015 - A new research paper has been published that reveals changes in the way that UK companies now perceive and evaluate their commercial property portfolios - both as a physical workplace and as a strategic asset that can help them to meet corporate goals. The report entitled, ‘Redefining Commercial Property Performance - The alignment of property and workplace with corporate objectives’ was written by workplace and business journalist Sara Bean and commissioned by Managed Office Solutions provider, Portal As part of the research, interviews were conducted with leading property professionals, workplace consultants and occupiers including the likes of RICS, Leesman UK, TD Wealth International, TSK Group, Cushman & Wakefield and Sheffield Hallam University. The findings of the paper reveal the growing importance of measuring the performance and return from commercial office space and the necessity to more closely align property with corporate goals. The first part of the paper examines how space operates in relation to a company’s over-riding business goals including its ability to adapt to changing business requirements. The second part then goes on to focus on how the workplace itself helps to boost overall productivity, effectiveness, brand values, well-being and retention of staff. Property needs to be strategically linked back to the business Director, UK Commercial Property Professional Group at RICS, Paul Bagust who was interviewed believes that conventional attitudes still prevail but that new ways of thinking are emerging. “What RICS has identified in its research is that the role of property needs to be seen as more than a business support function, but one that is strategically linked back to the business. The key is that it becomes part of the conversation and not some add on piece. The trend has been about keeping costs down, because there's been a recession, but this has shifted more recently towards employee retention, as recruiting can be more difficult in a strong economy, therefore the property needs to support that objective, by really fitting the message to the business." John Pike, Senior Adviser to Bellrock Property and Facilities Management, and Managing Director of 40 Percent Symposium commented, “Most CEOs do not want to have a conversation about technical real estate issues, leases or dilapidations; they want to talk about the overall business strategy. And while a lot of finance directors will be primarily driven by numbers, for the C-Suite there is the wider understanding of what their business is trying to achieve and how property fits into that picture.” Measuring workplace effectiveness – The Importance of benchmarking The research also revealed the growing importance of measuring the effectiveness of workplace strategies. Tim Oldman, CEO at workplace performance benchmarking specialist Leesman argues that the fundamental problem for too many organisations is that, by being focused totally on costs some may get smarter in terms of utilisation but nobody is looking at output. This is what the Leesman Index has set out to do since its launch in 2010: "to provide a wholly independent measure of workplace effectiveness" and show that the purpose of the workplace is to support employee productivity and organisational performance - by taking a measure of what the workplace contributes, not solely/simply what it costs. Inspirational Workplaces Ian Ellison Senior Lecturer and Course Leader in Facilities Management at Sheffield Hallam University is interested in the factors that contribute to a "genuinely inspiring" workplace. He concurs with Leesman that the best way of evaluating the effectiveness of a workplace is to focus on the needs of an individual organisation, which can only be achievable by exploring the diverse needs and experiences of the people who will occupy that space. A convergence of people and place In order for a workplace to be truly effective though, real estate expert Chris Kane, ex Head of Corporate Real Estate at the BBC argues there must be “a convergence of people and place”. They are he says, a company’s most valuable assets and only by developing them both in tandem will you unlock their true value. Creating effective workplaces in tune with corporate objectives The research concludes that forward-thinking organisations are now beginning to acknowledge and understand how they can unlock the value of their workplaces. Traditional approaches to property based purely on cost are now shifting towards more operational perspectives that takes into account the exact and often unique needs of an individual business and what it is trying to achieve at a strategic level. John Gotley, Managing Director at Managed Office Solutions, Portal who commissioned the research summarises, “The findings of the research clearly shows how an organisation’s commercial property is no longer seen as simply a place of work, but is now considered to be central to the overall performance and future success of a business.” According to Gotley, the influence of the board on property choices is growing and so too is the recognition of aligning a property with commercial goals. “Senior decision makers from the CFO through to the CEO are driving the selection process. They want a property solution that closely matches their objectives, so is it cost-effective? Will it support overall productivity but also limit risk in the future? For example if a company grows or contracts they want the reassurance that their property portfolio is flexible enough to reflect these changes without hefty financial penalties. All these factors need to be built into today’s commercial property equation.” Key areas covered in the report include: • Commercial property moves up the corporate agenda • Building & Measuring effective workplace strategies • Measuring value – the introduction of benchmarking • Inspirational Workplaces • Case Study: TD Wealth International • Conclusion: Creating effective workplaces in tune with corporate objectives To download the full report visit http://www.portalgroup.uk.com/white-papers Editor’s Note: About Portal Portal’s Managed Office Solution (MOS) provides a tailored property, fit out and supporting services package at a location that best meets the client’s need. Utilised by organisations including E.ON, Sky, Hewlett Packard and Hastings Direct nationwide, Portal provide 230,000 sq. ft. of Headquarter, Contact Centre and Back Office work spaces. The key benefits of MOS include: 1. It removes considerable Capex requirements and provides clarity of costs. Customers are presented with a monthly operating charge for the contract duration. At the end of the contract there are no dilapidation or exit charges. 2. All associated property and project management risk is transferred to Portal. Portal deliver fit out and services on time to agreed specification and stringent Service Level Agreements. 3. Portal’s expertise and demonstrable capability in providing business driven property solutions enable our customers focus on their core activity, not their property. Portal’s Scope of Supply can encompass: • A proven discovery process to establish requirements • Fit Out design and implementation delivering a working environment aligned to business needs • Exclusive and qualified site management providing dedicated client liaison • 24x7 site security • Hard and soft Facilities Management – catering, cleaning and maintenance • Data capability (cabling to desktop) • I T and telephony supply and support capability (specialist in Contact Centre technology) Portal’s head office is in London and they have operational centres in Glasgow, Rotherham, Nottingham, Chatham, Leicester, Coventry and Leeds. Press Contact: Call Jane Moores or Sally Minchin on 01225 580214. 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