“Does this mean the end of CRES?”
This one query from a friend in response to a previous post on coworking environments got me thinking. It’s a given that coworking spaces like Regus, WeWork and CoWrks will directly impact team members. But the trend will be a major gamechanger for how Commercial Real Estate Services (CRES) teams operate. Especially when we consider that more companies are expected to outsource the duties traditionally allocated to CRES teams. But as an optimist, I look at this as a new beginning for CRES rather than the end.
So far, the CRES team has been driving decisions regarding the running of the organisational facilities – the location of the office, the area allocated to each division, the management of amenities. They’re especially important to large corporations like financial institutions, IT and ITES companies – in short, organisations that together occupy millions and millions of square feet. With volumes like that, CRES is an entire company within a company. With valuable skills picked up over its entire existence, I’d predict that CRES would naturally adapt to its new environment.
The C in CRES is for Contracts
One new change in the way CRES operates would perhaps be enhanced flexibility in how they lease office spaces. With the dynamic nature of business, it’s sometimes futile to forecast more than three or four quarters into the future. This is why signing a long-term lease extending up to years tends to tie companies down. Coworking spaces, thus, have proved to be more suitable for certain businesses – wherein they can rent space or seats according to their requirements. And if there is a need to relocate, they simply have to shift to a coworking branch in another city. CRES too is departing from conventional lease agreements in favour of smarter, more creative contraction and expansion options. CRES sometimes also bridges the gap between coworking and corporate by having a range of shared office spaces on their repertoire.
The C in CRES is for Coworking
Corporate Real Estate in some large companies also operates as an in-house coworking agent. In this new arrangement, some companies allocate a section of their office space to smaller businesses and freelancers. The direct benefit of this system is the added diversity in the environment. A lot has been said about this practice in a previous article on this blog.
The C in CRES is for Community
While earlier, CRES’ job was to simply provide and furnish an office, they are now becoming more aware of a new responsibility – to create a community, rather than just a physical space. This too is, I believe, a result of coworking culture seeping into large corporates. To simulate the ecosystem of diversity and opportunities to connect, CRES is emulating the coworking model of arranging community outreach programmes across different departments. They’re collaborating with HR to set up events, classes, training modules or even social occasions for teams. Replicating the trend from companies like WeWork, they even have online groups and apps for team members to interact and partake in team building activities.
It’s therefore impractical to believe that companies will completely have to do away with CRES. After all, it’s the one team that holds all divisions of an organisation together. While coworking spaces offer their advantages, it’s the CRES team that knows the needs specific to their company in and out. The nature of their role now is not just cold and administrative – their new role would be to bring teams together through a more interactive ecosystem within the workspace.
One of the unique qualities of CRES teams across the board is how closely connected they are. They take learnings from other CRES teams while collaborating on projects. The network they share is definitely stronger than the interaction between architects and designers. I predict that if CRES teams belonging to even a few large companies combine forces – converging their procurement muscle and negotiation skills – the result would be stellar. They could create their own diverse coworking ecosystem – spanning astronomical scales, considering scales are what they specialise in. It’s this powerful connection and these time-tested abilities at their command that would take them into the coworking future.
Long live CRES, then!