Economic uncertainty a growing concern for corporate real estate in the Americas

Mar 29, 2017, 13:41 PM by Julie Whelan

CBRE's recent survey of corporate real estate executives in the Americas shows economic uncertainty looming larger among their concerns, second only to talent management in 2017. Of the 176 executives surveyed, 52% ranked economic uncertainty a top-three concern, up from 36% in 2016.

Most (87%) are addressing this uncertainty by disposing of surplus space and/or implementing more efficient workplace designs. Meanwhile, only 26% expect to expand their portfolios over the next two years—a notable drop from the 2016 survey's 38%. Approximately half said the size of their portfolios would remain the same as last year. 

Workplace Experience

Uncertainty may increasingly factor into many real estate decisions, but a talent-focused workplace experience remains the priority for most of the occupiers surveyed.

Two thirds of respondents consider employee satisfaction a key measure of their workplace strategy programs' success, rating it higher than cost metrics like occupancy cost per sq. ft. (56%), occupancy cost per employee (53%) and target cost reduction (42%). Accordingly, when asked for the three main drivers of their organizations’ workplace strategy, slightly more than half of respondents named talent attraction & retention and promoting collaboration, while 40% named savings on operating expenses.

Occupiers are offering a range of amenities and services that help integrate employees' personal and professional lives in the workplace. Sixty-four percent of respondents said their labor forces consider such amenities more important than other considerations like workspace flexibility or public transportation. Employee wellness programs are also an effective draw, and 76% of survey respondents report running such programs.

Although mobile and cloud technology have made it possible to work efficiently from almost anywhere, formal and informal communication both remain more effective when face-to-face. Employers seek to draw employees to the workplace using a positive emotional connection, in order to foster a more collaborative and cohesive culture.

Read more about the changing definition of workplace strategy on and download the full survey from


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