The Corporate Property Balancing Act

In February I made a contribution to New Zealand’s net migration by moving home with my family from Melbourne to Wellington after thirteen years away. Annual migration to New Zealand, particularly from Australia is expected to continue to rise and is currently forecast to surpass 70,700 by July. If that happens it will take population growth to a post 1974 high of 2.1 per cent.

New Zealand’s population increase is helping to generate good economic growth, it’s also fuelling a never ending residential property shortage story for the media. Less covered right now are corporate property portfolios and the challenges in front of them. Corporate property teams are being asked to do more with the portfolios they manage to support ambitious organisational growth, employee engagement, knowledge retention, customer service and all with little appetite for increasing costs.

It’s no mystery that property costs make up one of the biggest overheads for most organisations and, given that’s the case, it’s also not unusual to see cost reduction as the anchor point in many corporate property strategies. I think focusing on cost reduction alone is flawed and can cloud the significant effect property has on enabling higher order organisational objectives. Cost is important but it is key to strike the correct balance against property as an organisational enabler.

The shift from treating property as only a cost to property as an enabler requires a deep understanding of how workplace design, location and the physical environment best support the modes of work going on within them and subsequently higher order objectives. For example, the objective of enabling knowledge workers to concentrate, collaborate and share ideas to create a sense of community and innovation has seen many introduce Activity Based Working (ABW) to their portfolios. ABW seems ‘old hat’ now but it does provide an example of a property outcome that has organisational productivity and enablement as well as decent reductions in space and cost at its core.

Developing a corporate property strategy with good perspective of organisational goals is crucial. Success also needs to be defined early and be uncomplicated enough to measure. An organisation I previously worked for surveyed approximately eight thousand people after a significant workplace change had been delivered as one way to check if the right balance had been achieved. 78% of respondents believed that their new workplace was better equipped to meeting clients, 81% believed it had a positive impact on brand and corporate image, 85% believed it was more energy efficient thus cheaper to run and more socially responsible and 80% found it was easier to manage their own wellbeing (despite significant drop in space per person). They also rated the physical workplace in the top three reasons to join and stay at an organisation. Execution of property strategy must get the organisation to where it wants to go!

Developing and executing corporate property strategy is a balancing act that The Property Group (TPG) can help with. When seen and managed as organisational enablers, property portfolios contribute significantly to an organisations success.

Last year TPG with Robert Walters surveyed over 2500 public and private sector professionals across New Zealand about “Work space design variables and their impact on productivity, loyalty and engagement”.

Click to View the Results of this survey