The theme of the CoreNet Global 2016 Summit in Philadelphia was focused on some key big picture issues facing corporate real estate: Geopolitics, Economics and the Environment. The overall message was clear: CRE needs to be prepared for a climate of rapidly accelerating change on all fronts.

5 Key Messages from CoreNet Global 2016

Here are some of the most important and actionable takeaways for CRE from CoreNet Philadelphia, specifically related to the global economy, human capital, employee wellness, the modern workplace and the impact of technology.

CoreNet Global takeaway #1: Prepare for an uncertain future with flexibility

At the CoreNet Global Summit, a variety of experts presented different viewpoints and challenged our world view on issues such as geopolitics, the environment, immigration and the global economy. At the conclusion, one point remained clear: the future is uncertain and the only thing we can positively predict is rapidly accelerating change.

Not being ready to meet these changes is a huge risk for companies. Responding too late can impact your company’s ability to remain competitive and profitable. So how can CRE transform their teams and workplaces to be agile enough to meet changing business conditions as they unfold?

One smart strategy is building flexibility into your CRE portfolio with agile working spaces. While companies are moving to this new way of working for its cost benefits and to enable collaboration, agile spaces also provide scalability and allow for fast re-alignment of teams.

Learn more: Agile Working Benefits: Moving Beyond the Dollars


CoreNet Global takeaway #2: Mitigate a growing human capital crisis by providing choice

It’s an indisputable fact: companies are having a hard time hiring knowledge workers with the skills they need. The “war for talent” means that attracting and retaining highly skilled workers, especially from the millennial generation, is a top priority that must drive CRE actions.

According to CBRE research presented at the CoreNet Global Summit, that’s because workers place a high value on their work environment. In fact, 71% are willing to give up other benefits (like a shorter commute or joining a company with a valued brand) to work in a well-designed workplace. The difficult part is understanding exactly what actions you need to take to make your workplace more attractive to prospective employees.

According to CBRE and many other experts at the summit, the key is providing choice in the workplace. Both millennials and older generations want options in the types of spaces available to them to accomplish their work.

Learn more: 3 Workplace Strategies for Attracting Top Talent

CoreNet Global takeaway #3: Addressing employee experience is essential

CBRE revealed that half of companies they surveyed already have employee health and wellbeing programs in place, and 91% expect to increase these programs. Other experts presenting at the CoreNet global summit, including Dr. Cristina Banks, Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces, University of California Berkeley, say that’s because workers are seeking out environments where their human needs are met.

This fact makes employee health and wellbeing an important workplace strategy for attracting talent and also growing productivity. Workplaces designed to increase physical health are becoming popular, providing features like attractive staircases and active furniture to increase movement, and healthy food options to increase nutrition.

What may be surprising is that the psychological wellbeing of employees is just as important as their physical health. That’s why companies are providing work spaces designed to increase social interaction and cohesion as well as provide quiet and privacy. Again, it’s having choice that’s key.

CoreNet Global takeaway #4: Workplace design can serve as a business enabler

How can workplace impact business success? According to many presenters at the CoreNet Global summit, that’s the question driving the design of the modern workplace and especially the movement to agile working. One fact has become clear: in the knowledge economy, ideas and innovation are what’s needed to drive businesses forward. And the key to generating better ideas is increasing collaboration in the workplace.

That’s an important reason that companies are transforming their workplaces into environments that provide more opportunities to collaborate. Agile work spaces encourage both ad-hoc and planned collaboration with the neighborhood concept and with meeting spaces designed for the way teams work best.

Another factor that can’t be overlooked is how workplace can increase productivity. There were many ideas presented at the CoreNet Global Summit about impacting employee productivity with workplace design, as well as how to measure that impact. A common thread was providing space options that make it easier for workers to accomplish a variety of tasks. But to ensure the results you want, it’s essential to transform company culture through change management at the same time you’re transforming the workplace.

Learn more: 8 Tips to Encourage Collaboration in the Agile Workplace

CoreNet Global takeaway #5: Innovative technology is driving workplace transformation

Speakers at the CoreNet Global Summit addressed 3 key drivers in the move to Workplace 2020: innovation in workplace design, policy and technology. The fact is, technology is the catalyst that’s enabling companies to transform workplaces from a cost liability to a productivity asset.

The journey begins with technology that helps you understand where you are, where you want to go and how to get there. In the digital workplace, strategic decisions are increasingly being made based on data rather than relying on experience alone. That means you must be continuously monitoring and measuring the relationship between people and space, because that’s the information you need to drive an effective and efficient workplace.


High performing workplaces are using third generation workplace management tools integrated with utilization tracking technology to get real time insights and respond quickly to dynamic business needs. As a bonus, the data provided by this technology can also be used to power wayfinding tools that improve employee experience in an agile work environment.

Learn more: Managing Workplace Utilization.

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