We’re proud to once again be corporate partners of the CBI’s annual conference where the team and I get to share business insights with business leaders from around the UK. This year it was even more exciting given the backdrop of political disruption, change and opportunity, not just for Britain, but for the whole world.
The government’s draft Brexit plan is naturally dominating the debate but there’s also a clear recognition business needs to focus on the underlying trends shaping the future and ensure they are equipped with the vision to take advantage of the rapidly changing world.
There’s a real sense we’re at a pivotal moment and how businesses respond to the needs of the ‘next generation’ will undoubtedly determine future success.
For us, this means creating flexible spaces that appeal to the next generation, ensuring our leaders nurture a diverse and inclusive culture to attract and retain the best talent and considering how next generation technology can be harnessed to enhance productivity.
Brexit at key juncture
The Brexit process remains at a key juncture. Whether the UK and EU will eventually agree a withdrawal agreement remains to be seen, but the announcement a draft deal has been agreed is progress. I share the sentiment provided by Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, when in her opening speech she said: “We need to work together to make the most of the opportunities.”
Despite two years of uncertainty the UK continues to be an immensely attractive market for UK investors and UK occupiers and the fundamentals underpinning this are not going away. However, these negotiations pan out, we must not let the debate divert away from the fundamentals. Investors are allocating more to real estate and occupiers are outsourcing more of their real estate activities and the UK will remain an attractive destination for investors because of its high levels of transparency, excellent liquidity, favourable leasing conditions and high yields.
We wait to see what happens but despite ongoing political uncertainty, as a global business we are well-placed to help our clients navigate the market as Brexit evolves.
It’s also true that with change comes opportunity. After speaking to my fellow business leaders at the CBI conference, I keep coming back to the same questions. What will it take to succeed in the workplace of the future? What are the crucial things that leaders need to think about to ensure they are equipped for the changing world of work? How can investors and occupiers stay ahead of the curve?
At the CBI conference there was a real focus on the ‘next generation’ – the next wave of business leaders and companies that will drive a prosperous future for us all to share. Forward thinking businesses are increasingly looking for flexible spaces that help them navigate growth and uncertainty and that inspire their people to be at their best and work productively. There’s no doubt that we’re seeing a shift from the traditional workplace environment to solutions that can achieve this.
As today’s companies aim to become more agile and their workforce becomes more mobile, their space requirements are changing fast. By 2030, up to 30 percent of corporate space will be flex, and speaking to colleagues at the CBI it’s clear these demands will accelerate as we prepare to welcome the next generation to the workplace.
As a result, the real estate market is likely to have to become more flexible in terms of leases, and more customer-focused in terms of services and amenities. We have recently launched our flex space report which examines these trends and their implications for investors and occupiers in more detail.
People and Property
The role of leadership in creating inclusive workplace cultures that are poised to nurture the next generation of talent who have diverse backgrounds, skills and perspectives will be essential. The dynamics of society are changing, and those businesses which reflect this change and opportunity will triumph.
“Valuing people for what they bring to a company, will reduce the enormous waste of talent we see today,” Claire England, JLL director for diversity and inclusion, told the conference at our insights panel.
At JLL our aim is to create a workplace and spaces where people can thrive regardless of culture, class, gender or ethnicity. This approach will have a material impact on business and society and I reflect on comments made by Dame Vivian Hunt, Managing Partner for McKinsey and Company UK & Ireland at our Honor Chapman Memorial Lecture. “If, as a city, we remake our organisations to be diverse and inclusive, imagine the value we could realise,” she said.
Riding the wave of change
It wouldn’t be the CBI without talking about disruption from technology. We’ve seen many tech companies causing disruption, while the capture and use of data offers new business opportunities. Those able to harness these transformational opportunities and stay ahead of the curve will have the greatest chance of success.
Our own business outlook is firmly focused on the future. Our global CEO Christian Ulbrich often talks of JLL as becoming a ‘tech firm focused on real estate.’ At JLL UK we believe that innovation must help our clients. Our award winning NXT Office Solution, which offers an immersive digital experience for those seeking office space, is a good example of how we invest in cutting edge technology that can leverage our data and insights to improve our client’s performance.
So, what’s next…
As ever a big thank you to the numerous clients who attend the event every year with us. Giving our clients access to the insights from the event is important to us. It reminds all of us, of the underlying long-term issues we all need to focus on and the need to rethink the changing role of real estate.