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Corporate Real Estate Transformation: How Workplace Management is Evolving Important trends that have emerged to encourage individuality and community

By Sathish Rajendren

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Workplaces for the longest time have been looked upon as an essential evil. Carrying with it a legacy of the cubical culture, they were often the epitome of "isolation' in a community. Over the last century, numerous behavioural and psychological studies have been conducted to understand the impact of a workplace on the overall wellbeing and development of an employee. Over time, studies have shown an alteration in the perception and expectations of employees. As we move towards the second decade of the new century, there is a strong sense of community that is taking over the current working populations. All over the world, as networks continue to grow, the standard legacy of silo seating is being dispelled. Equally, there is a sense of preserving and augmenting the individuality of the employees.

Promoting Gender-neutral Workplaces

During these years, the number of women joining the workforce has increased, though the percentage has seen some slowdown in recent times. This is especially true in the Tier 1 cities and in the services sector, where the ratio of working men to women is changing quickly. With a more dynamic workforce, the role played by real estate also becomes crucial. This has been one of the key drivers in the recent past that have contributed to real estate becoming a strategic partner in organizational growth. Another aspect of workforce demographic is the disparity of age groups. Corporate real estate professionals and human resource management teams have distinctive challenges and issues to handle in their workspaces.

Workplace Strategies Evolve

An important trend that has emerged is the setting up offices that encourage individuality and community. Whether they are owned spaces or a shared workplace, there is a propensity to increase collaborative spaces. Workplace amenities have improved markedly over the last five years. As the attraction and retention of talent become critical, office occupiers now actively seek, rather than shun, buildings with ground floor retail and vibrancy. High-end coffee shops together with an eclectic and exciting mix of often independent, food and beverage facilities, which have a particular appeal and double as informal workspaces for many. Meanwhile, the rise of wellness as an employee concern has seen access to gyms, cycle storage and well-serviced "end of trip' facilities become de rigueur for a truly best-in-class workplace. Yet the appetite and speed of adoption of such amenities have been so widespread, that they no longer represent a point of difference for either building owner or occupier. New amenity requirements will surface, further compounded by the continual redefinition of work, workers, and the workplace.

Challenges in Mindset

Recent industry reports have shown that global corporates intend to operate increasingly from flexible, serviced and co-working spaces, which creates a more collaborative working environment and offers the freedom to expand and contract quickly according to market conditions. Today, despite the proliferation of co-working and serviced office operators, a majority of global corporates occupy office space on a traditional lease model. This is corroborated by the general industry opinion of co-working, serviced and flexible office spaces being a distinct minority. The challenge, thus, lies not only in creating the required policies for such workspaces but also in implementing them on-ground. Fortunately, many stakeholders in the industry have begun to incorporate the insights drawn from market analyses to donate a larger focus on these issues.


As the industry continues to evolve, corporate real estate has gradually become an essential factor to consider while determining future strategies for organizational growth. Gender neutrality and workplace management are now watchwords that every player in the industry must now consider going forward. It is hoped that this progress will continue and organizations will use corporate real estate strategies to maximize their business impact in the long-term.

Sathish Rajendren

Co-Chairs at CoreNet Global India Chapter & COO at Knight Frank (India) Pvt Ltd

Senior Business Leader & Insead alumnus with over 16 years of rich experience in Facilities, Asset Management and Corporate Real Estate for Occupiers, Developers & Investors. Currently Heading Facilities & Asset Management Business line for India, working closely with our Global & APAC teams to take this business to next phase of growth by providing strategic and operational leadership with a strong track record of performance in dynamic situations.
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