CBRE’s 2023 European Office Occupier Sentiment Survey polled over 130 companies on a range of issues including:
Return to the office
Future workplace policies
Attitudes to flex office space
Influences on location and building choice decisions
The organisational drivers behind specific policy decisions
In the context of still-low office return rates, many companies see scope to raise office attendance rates further. A rising number have some level of requirement in place or are actively engaging with their employees around the issue, and most are aiming for employees to spend at least some of the working week in the office.
Efforts at portfolio optimisation include reducing footprint scale, but also cover a range of other measures, and – significantly – enhancing the quality profile of portfolios. Lease structures are also strongly in scope, and appetite for flex office space is continuing to grow.
All this sits within an increasingly people-centric strategy framework, and growing recognition of the need to integrate real estate decision-making with people decisions. For the same reasons, transport access and travel convenience are prominent in location decisions, and sustainability is a growing influence on building selection.
Key findings we believe will feature strongly in occupiers’ decision-making in 2023 and beyond
Office return rates still low but with scope to rise – policies are tightening and becoming more prescriptive
Nearly half of respondents report office attendance of 40% or lower, but many are looking to secure further increases, mostly over the coming year. And two-thirds have some level of requirement for office attendance, although monitoring and enforcement are still largely informal. With nearly 90% of companies aiming for employees to be at the office at least half the time, future policy guidelines look likely to become more prescriptive.
A growing focus on portfolio optimisation
Around 60% of companies expect some degree of portfolio contraction over the next three years, partly as a result of hybrid work, reducing their space needs. At the same time, 45% are relocating some functions into better quality space. Lease structures are a focus area, with 41% of companies favouring shorter lease terms. Appetite for flex space continues to rise, with some occupiers prepared to consider higher allocations of flex office space than has been the case in the past.
Accessibility is defining location strategies and sustainability is driving building selection
Public transport access is by some distance the most important factor in selecting locations (80%). This is followed by car parking (57%), with other “ease of commute” factors such as electric vehicle charging points (48%) and bike or scooter storage (38%) also prominent. Among the factors that drive specific building-selection, sustainable features continue their rise and are becoming visibly more important (55% vs 44% last year and 37% the year before that).
Changing workstyles are driving office design
With companies striving to provide more fluid and collaborative seating arrangements, desk sharing ratios higher than 2:1 go from 7% currently to 24% in two years’ time. There is a strong focus on the technologies needed to support the transition towards new workstyles: enhanced video conferencing and room booking software are both rated as top three technology priorities by around two-thirds of companies.
People-centric goals are at the forefront of corporate real estate strategies
Engagement, motivation, productivity and facilitating team performance are the watchwords for future of work (FoW) policies. And it has a big change-management component. Managing change through partnering across HR, IT, real estate etc. is the most prevalent (68%), with employee engagement via surveys, focus groups etc. at 55%.
CBRE’s Spring 2023 Office Occupier Sentiment Survey provides insights from 207 corporate real estate executives with U.S. office portfolios about how organisational strategies to support the future of work are progressing.
CBRE’s 2023 Asia Pacific Office Occupier Sentiment Survey, which features insights from more than 130 corporate real estate executives in the region, from more than 80 multinational and domestic companies, delves deeper into the future of work and the changing role of the office.