Corporate Real Estate Impact on Enterprise Success
A Research Study By Dr. Barry Varcoe and Dr. Martha Oâ€™Mara April 2011
Contents 1. Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 2. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 3. The Business View of Corporate Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 4. Research Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 5. The Sample . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 6. Findings: Fundamental CRE Management Practices . . . . . . . 13 7. Findings: Comparative Maturity of CRE Practices . . . . . . . . . 19 8. Final Thoughts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Appendix: Survey Content and Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 About the Authors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 About Regus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
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1. Executive Summary This research explores the relationship between the perceived maturity and capability of Corporate Real Estate (CRE) practices and the economic performance of business enterprises. It focuses on Fortune 500-sized organisations. Business management and organisational studies have largely ignored corporate real estate practices and their impact on performance. Where CRE and facilities management practices are examined, the focus is more on the nature of the physical assets, not how corporate real estate management practices might impact the performance of the company. Previous studies have focused on: `` The capability and capacity of the real estate assets `` The workplace as an organisational â€˜enablerâ€™ `` The (negative) impact the workplace can have on job satisfaction through poor working conditions `` The changing nature of the portfolio of assets `` Alignment of real estate decision-making processes with competitive strategy, as a visual representation of the organisationâ€™s culture and image The goal of this research is to document the range of corporate real estate management practices currently in place at large companies, and to identify which of those practices correlate to key financial performance measures. A survey questionnaire was used to collect information about current CRE practices. Forty valid data sets were submitted. In overall terms, the sample comprises: `` A total supported organisational head count of slightly more than 3.6 million people `` A total operational portfolio size of 221 million gross square metres (2.38 billion gross square feet) `` A total operating budget under management of US$ 72.6 billion The organisations are spread across a large number of industry sectors, but are predominantly headquartered in the USA and the UK. Their financial performance information was obtained from publicly available sources. The research discovered significant correlations between six of the CRE practices and enterprise performance measures, as illustrated in the table below. All of the correlations were positive except for those relating to capital release strategies. No significant correlations were found between the fourteen other CRE practices examined in the survey and the economic performance measures applied.
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The research was not able to establish causality within the correlations. Therefore the identified relationships may be caused by these CRE practices improving enterprise success, or by successful companies performing these tasks at a higher level. Apart from ‘Continuous Improvement and Innovation’, all of the practices that correlate are positioned at the lower end of the CRE practice maturity spectrum as assessed by the survey respondents. This suggests that there is considerable room for CRE managers and their companies to significantly enhance future performance by investing more in those practices which correlate positively to an overall enterprise economic performance.
Table 1: Correlation Summary CRE Practice
3 Year Growth
Net Sales/ Employee
Continous improvement and innovation Capital release strategy
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2. Introduction Corporate Real Estate (CRE) – the function within an enterprise that manages its physical work, production and customer engagement environments – has grown as a professional discipline over the past several decades. At many organisations CRE practices have evolved from a narrow definition focusing on managing real estate transactions and design and construction projects, to managing a wide range of functions that support the physical workplace, financial and business strategy, and the implementation of work strategies that integrate advances in technological mobility. While there has been considerable advance in the sophistication of the practises used, and the scale and reach of the service provider industry that supports them, a direct connection between these professional advances and broadened scope has not yet been documented. It is therefore now timely to ask the following questions: ‘What difference has this progress made? And does better CRE relate to better overall business performance?’ This research explores for the first time the relationship between the perceived maturity and capability of CRE practices and the economic performance of business enterprises. It focuses on large Fortune 500-type organisations. The results not only document the relative maturity of a broad array of CRE practices, but show which are significantly correlated to superior financial performance, and which are not. The research methodology was inspired in part by the research of Huselid (1995) who successfully identified aspects of Human Resource management practice that correlated to turnover, productivity and corporate financial performance. It continues the work of O’Mara (1999, other) and Varcoe (2009, other) in exploring the direct connections between corporate real estate practices and organizational strategy and performance.
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3. The Business View of Corporate Real Estate A broad review of management and organisational literature enabled some clear conclusions to be drawn regarding the business view of CRE. Does it make a difference and warrant serious consideration, resource and time by executive leadership, or is it more of a marginal issue? In overall terms, it is noticeable that CRE and its management are deemed to warrant a comparatively minor amount of content and significance. Indeed, a large number of the writers reviewed made no mention of them, even when they were discussing fundamental shifts in the nature of work. However, where CRE and facilities are referred to, recurring themes can be identified: `` The capability and capacity of CRE as an asset (Mintzberg 1994), including: • Its role as a ‘useful’ part of the firm’s infrastructure (Moore 1992) and how that needs to be an integrated part of the business system (Senge 1990) • Improving its utilisation (Ansoff 1987), including through the removal of waste (Handy 1994) to reduce cost and improve the return (speed and amount) on capital invested (Kaplan and Norton 1996). Over-provision can be induced by less critical decision criteria reliant in turn on cheap finance from an increasingly global capital market (Mintzberg 1994) • Its potential premature redundancy through changing environments (Johnson and Scholes 2002) `` Its place as an organisational ‘enabler’: • Physical location and layout as a key ‘enabler’ of group and production effectiveness (Handy 1993) (Peters 1992) • Conversely, as a constraint if the workplace is not positively managed (Davenport 1997) `` The (negative) impact it can have on job satisfaction as a potential dissatisfier through poor working conditions (Pugh 1971) `` The changing nature of the portfolio of assets: • A potential location shift as work, not workers, becomes the primary axis of mobility (Drucker 1992) • A reduction in the proportion of a portfolio that is owned, to reduce the amount of capital invested in property (Ehrbar 1998) `` As a visual representation of the organisation’s culture and image (Harvey-Jones 1991) (Sadler 1991)
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Much of the modern business literature is arguably dominated by authors more intent on quickly turning post event rationalisations for lasting business success (backed up by case examples) into easily remembered, repeatable and, in some ways, branded principles and methodologies that can be adopted by the mainstream, rather than publishing the results and learning from rigorous primary research. If such an assertion is even only partly true, it perhaps in part helps to explain why CRE does not warrant much attention within the body of business and organisational literature, and, unless something significant changes, it probably never will.
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4. Research Methodology So we face a situation where ‘the enterprise’ view of CRE is primarily as a tactical component of its production value chain that does not warrant significant managerial investment or attention. CRE doesn’t really make much of a difference. Is this fair and correct? The research that follows explores this question. How are large corporate organisations managing their workplace operations? Are any of these practices related to economic performance? What other external factors correlate with corporate real estate management practices? The survey questionnaire catalogued the array of roles and responsibilities commonly found in corporate real estate functions, and expressed those practices in a way that is considered ‘best practice’. The target audience for the survey was senior corporate real estate executives at large corporations headquartered in the USA and Europe. The survey recipients represented a wide array of industries as detailed in the following section. The purpose of the survey was to capture each executive’s opinion about the relative maturity and capability of their key CRE practices. In addition to this, some background data was also requested that would help test for any response variance from identified control factors such as size or industry. The key CRE practices were identified following an extensive literature search into the field of CRE performance. Twenty areas of practice were identified. The final survey was then tested and challenged at two workshops with leading corporate real estate practitioners, one in the US and one in Europe. The practice areas were also categorised into two subsets: those which are considered tactical and relate to the physical management of assets, and those that support the business in its development and implementation of its competitive strategy. These subsets were not distinguished in the actual survey instrument. The twenty practices are as follows:
Tactical `` Supplier management `` Operational and management information `` Space and interior standards `` Governance and compliance `` Customer satisfaction measurement `` Performance measurement `` Budget management * `` Extent of outsourcing * `` Telework policy *
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Strategic `` Business unit relationship management `` Sustainability `` Portfolio strategy planning `` CRE team diversity `` CRE/HR/IT collaboration `` Use of serviced offices `` Effective staff development `` Continuous improvement and innovation `` Business strategy collaboration `` Capital release strategies `` Alternative workplace strategies * In addition, the executive’s opinion was solicited regarding how their own executive leadership (CEO, CFO, etc.) of the enterprise would describe relative value of the CRE team and its performance. For all of the practice questions, the survey respondent was asked to record their opinion of the typical practices undertaken by their CRE team over the last two years (so that it related to current or near-past financial performance). Sixteen practice areas could be examined using a scale from least to most advanced practice. For those topics, participants selected the extent to which they believed their CRE performed the practice described using a 1-7 scale (total agreement with the description being a score of ‘7’). These scores were then compared to relative financial performance. For a minority of the questions (identified by an asterisk above), four descriptions were given for each practice area from which the respondent had to select the closest answer that described their practice. Finally, two questions were asked relating to alternative workplace strategies and sustainability that focused on future intentions. These were not part of the question set that was used to test for correlation to enterprise performance. The practice questions are set out in full in the Appendix. The survey questionnaire was made available on a website and a participation request was emailed to a list of CRE executives. The survey was live for a four week period during October and November 2010.
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Once a valid response was received, public domain data about the financial performance of the respondent’s organisation was then researched. Five measures of enterprise performance were identified, for which data was collected for the 2009 financial year: `` Revenue growth over the last 3 years (2007 – 2009) – a measure of turnover performance `` Net sales per employee – a widely used measure of organisational productivity `` Return on assets (RoA) – a widely used market-based measure `` Return on equity (RoE) – a widely used market-based measure `` Tobins Q – a future oriented and risk-adjusted capital market measure of performance that reflects both current and anticipated profitability The data collected allowed the following analyses to be undertaken: `` Testing for any response variance relative to identified control factors `` Comparisons across the practices regarding their relative perceived maturity `` Correlation between CRE practices and enterprise financial performance
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5. The Sample Invitations to participate in the survey were sent to 267 large corporate organisations from around the world. The majority are headquartered in either the USA or UK (which broadly matches the relative maturity of the CRE markets internationally). Most of the mailing list corresponded to the 2009 Fortune Global 500. Retailers and agricultural companies were excluded from the survey population due to their unique real estate holdings. Large privately held companies were also included. Ultimately, forty complete responses were validated for use in the analysis, yielding a final response rate of 15%. The sample size is considered adequate for its intended purpose, and is the best that can realistically be expected to be achieved, (given how difficult is it to get senior executives to participate in survey research). As a reliable representation of â€˜large organisationsâ€™, typified by the Fortune Global 500 list, a total of 40 responses statistically gives a confidence interval of 14.88 (which is 1 point either way on a 1 â€“ 7 scale) at the 95% confidence level.
Sample Characteristics In overall terms, the sample consists of: ` A total supported organisational head count of slightly more than 3.6 million people ` A total operational portfolio size of 221 million gross square metres (2.38 billion gross square feet) ` A total operating budget under management of US$ 72.6 billion A wide spread of industry sectors are represented by the sample which are illustrated in Figure 1. Financial services companies represent the largest sector, followed by consumer goods and technology companies.
Figure 1: Research Sample Industry Sectors
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Response Variance Across Sample Characteristics The sample was tested to see whether the responses to the practice questions varied significantly relative to a number of control factors. The factors tested were: `` Real estate portfolio size `` CRE team size `` CRE&FM operating budget size `` Professional membership (73% of the sample are industry association CoreNet Global members) `` CRE organization structure `` Industry sector `` Enterprise annual revenue `` Total number of enterprise employees No significant differences across responses were found based upon these factors. The only difference in means that was greater than 1 (i.e. one point difference in average response on the 1-7 scale) was the difference between the lowest and highest industry sectors.
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6. Findings: Fundamental CRE Management Practices The study collected information regarding four fundamental corporate real estate practices: organizational structure, budget control, CRE reporting and use of suppliers. Responses were limited to four choices. The responses are informative on their own, and were also compared to the practices maturity scales to see if any of these fundamental characteristics correlated with the survey results, as discussed above. There is very little information published documenting the relative distribution of these practices, and the results shed light on some frequent debates. Further, one question solicited the opinion of the survey respondent regarding senior managementâ€™s view of CRE. Given the increase in telework (where employees are allowed to work from home or another location) and implementation of alternative workplace strategies (AWS), the survey also enquired into current telework and AWS practices, and asked respondents to predict future policies and practices regarding alternative work and sustainability at their company.
Fundamental CRE Practices Among the four generic approaches to CRE organisational structure presented in the survey, a hybrid of functional and geographic operations was most commonly cited, possibly due to the global scope of many of the participating companies. The rest evenly balanced between either functional or geographic driven organisational structures, as shown in Figure 2. None of the participating companies managed corporate real estate at the business unit level. Figure 3 summarises the budgetary control and real estate cost charge-back policies at the companies surveyed. The most common practice is to budget and manage CRE costs centrally and then recharge all costs back to business units. There is a fairly even spread across the other three methods. In the majority of the organizations (78%) the central CRE function has control of the overall CRE budget and through this should be able to strongly influence and drive improved practice and policies consistently across the entire portfolio.
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Figure 2: Basis for CRE Organisation Structure
Figure 3: Budgetary Control and Recharging Practices
The distribution of where the CRE function reports into the overall corporate management reporting line is also quite diverse across the sample, as Figure 4 demonstrates. The survey respondents most frequently report to the Chief Financial Officer, followed by both the Chief Operating Officer and the Technology function.
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Figure 4: Where does the CRE function report?
The survey collected information about the level of activity where suppliers are used. The results are shown in Figure 5. Given that the survey was targeted at the largest corporate occupiers who would potentially be best positioned to benefit from integrated services across the globe, it may be surprising that 38% of the respondents only use suppliers tactically at a local or national/regional level. At the other end of the spectrum, an equal proportion of respondents engage suppliers on an â€œan international level based around a limited number of principal relationships responsible for integrated solutions across a wide range of functions and/or countries.â€? This points to a considerable growth potential for the major international service providers, as over 60% of those surveyed are not currently using integrated solutions on an international basis.
Figure 5: Level of supplier activity
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Current and Future Workplace and Sustainability Practices The survey found wide variation in formal ‘telework’ or telecommuting policies (where employees are allowed to work from home or another location). Respondents were asked to select the category that best represented the proportion of the organisation to which ‘telework’ applied. The responses, shown in Figure 6, indicate that formal policies regarding telework are limited to a relatively small percentage of the workforce at half of the participating companies. However, at the other end of the spectrum, 18% of these large companies allow over 40% of their workforce to telework.
Figure 6: Organisation’s formal telework or telecommuting policy
Use of telework tends to foster the use of alternative workplace strategies (AWS) which were described as a range of flexible workplace settings provided for an employee’s work in places that are not assigned individually. Figures 7 and 8 summarise current and future AWS availability to the workforce at the responding companies. Again, there is a wide range of current practice. Despite an apparent widespread increase in interest in this topic across CRE over the last couple of years, the most common response was that AWS was available for less than 10% of the workforce. However, when asked about the future take-up of AWS – what proportion of employees at their company could be using AWS within the next five years – we see a dramatic shift towards increased AWS. There is certainly no lack of ambition being shown in that the current lowest frequency category, with the highest proportion of deployment (more than 40% of the workforce using AWS), becomes the largest category in the future. Based on indicative percentages for each category, the reported intentions represent a near doubling of the deployment of AWS over the next five years, compared to all that has been achieved since AWS first appeared in the 1990’s.
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Figure 7: AWS availability to workforce (Current)
Figure 8: AWS availability to workforce (Future)
Future intentions for leasing or developing new locations specify a strong preference for high sustainability rated buildings, as shown in Figure 9. In total, 73% of the respondents chose the two answers which directly refer to LEED Gold and BREEAM Excellent ratings. The rest indicate that they will at least prefer buildings with an energy rating. The response option â€œhave no formal policies related to building energy consumption or sustainabilityâ€? was not selected by any of the survey participants. The results show the importance that occupiers now place on recognised international accreditation schemes such as LEED and BREEAM.
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Figure 9: Future intentions regarding building sustainability ratings
CRE’s Self Evaluation Nearly all of the survey respondents were corporate real estate executives. They were asked “How do you think the executive leadership (CEO, CFO, etc.) of the enterprise would describe the CRE team and its performance?” The responses are summarised in Figure 10. The vast majority believe that, at the very least, their company’s senior executives think that CRE doesn’t cause too many problems and is a useful resource. Half believe they are viewed as an important strategic asset. Not a single respondent felt that their senior management considers CRE as an obstacle to success. The next chapter of this report will perhaps give some insight as to whether they are right to think this way.
Figure 10: CRE view of executive opinion
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7. Findings: Comparative Maturity of CRE Practices The study yields insight into the relative maturity of CRE practices across the companies surveyed. Some of these practices also show a correlation to economic performance. Respondents rated their perception of the corporate real estate department’s practices against sixteen statements describing leading capability standards for each area of practice. This was done using a 1 – 7 Likert scale (‘7’ indicated total agreement with the statement and ‘1’ indicated total disagreement). The first level of analysis is to look at the comparative scores achieved by each of the practices. This gives a measure of their relative maturity. Each question had the mean average response calculated, which were then ranked. The results are shown in Figure 11.
Figure 11: Comparative Maturity of CRE Practices
Overall, the survey respondents rated their teams relatively highly on most dimensions with an average response of 4.98 on the 7 point scale. Differences across industries are discussed below. The three most advanced practice areas are reported to be: diversity of the CRE team - defined as a broad mix of professional backgrounds; the rigorous management of governance and compliance; and having a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. The most common response to each of these was high, ‘6’ on the 7 point scale.
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Corporate real estate management practices that were rated relatively high on the scale, but with a wide range of responses from ‘1’ to ‘7’ include CRE involvement with business strategy at or near the beginning of a possibly strategic change, and two aspects related to data analytics - performance measurement using key performance indicators, and up to date, accurate operational and management data. Customer satisfaction measurement practices also vary widely, but were rated lower overall. Practices reported to be at an average rate of advancement compared to all survey responses, but which still feature ‘6’ out of ‘7’ as the most common response, include effective staff development, and the use of distinct CRE functions such as portfolio strategic planning, space and interior standardisation and business unit relationship management. Lower overall average maturity scores were given to effective supplier management, sustainability as a primary strategic priority, and working closely with HR, IT and other support functions. The use of serviced offices has the lowest overall rating and a wide range of responses. While the most common response was that serviced offices are not used by the company, a minority of organisations reported relatively heavy use. There was no statistical relationship between the use of serviced offices and the prevalence of alternative workplace strategies or high sustainability standards for buildings, which suggests that at this point in time, companies use serviced offices for reasons other than supporting AWS or carbon reduction.
Average Scores by Industry Sector The average scores for each industry sector were calculated. The ranking of these averages gives some indication into the relative maturity of CRE practice across industries. This is shown in Figure 12. The numbers in parentheses show the number of respondents in each industry category. Given the overall size of the sample, any results from this type of analysis cannot be considered to be particularly reliable. Furthermore, whereas the tendency is to be pleased if you belong to a high scoring sector and disappointed if you belong to a lower one, it may be that the lower scoring industries are in a stronger position for the future as they are perhaps being more realistic about their performance compared to overly-optimistic, high scoring sectors. Figure 12: Comparative maturity of practices across industry sectors
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‘Tactical’ Compared to ‘Strategic’ Practices As explained in Chapter 4, the practices were split into those considered to be more tactical versus those that are more strategic. Mean average responses were calculated for both categories. While it might be expected that tactical practices would be more mature and developed than strategic, there was no significant difference in the maturity ratings between categories.
Practices that Correlate with Enterprise Financial Performance Although it is useful to learn more about the range of real estate management practices currently in use by large corporations, the next question and one that is perhaps fundamentally more important is “what difference does it make?” Organisations must succeed along multiple dimensions over time. They must return value to their shareholders, their employees, and the larger community. Short-term financial measures, such as return on assets (ROA) and return on equity (ROE), are useful because they are quantitatively objective and allow performance to be compared across companies. 2009 financial performance reports were used as they represent the most recently available data. However, given that 2009 was a year of global recession, three year growth and sales per employee were also included as performance measures, along with Tobin’s Q, a future oriented measure used by financial analysts to estimate potential value. Both non-parametric and parametric statistical analysis techniques were used to identify any correlations that may exist between CRE practices and enterprise financial success. Since the data is not normally distributed and is non-parametric in nature, the Spearman rank order correlation technique was used. However, as this can have low sensitivity and can therefore fail to detect relationships that do exist, the Pearson product moment correlation was also calculated to provide a degree of assurance against the known weakness of the non-parametric technique. Correlations were tested for all of the CRE practice areas against each of the five measures of enterprise financial success. Six of the sixteen practices identified in the corporate real estate maturity rating portion of the survey demonstrated a correlation with financial performance. Those practices with statistically significant correlations are shown below in Table 2. The correlation co-efficient is shown by the value ‘r’. The co-efficient of determination ‘r2’ has also been calculated as this shows the degree of shared variance (in other words, in Table 2 supplier management accounts for 14% of the variance in RoA).
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Table 2: Correlation between CRE Practices and Enterprise Success 3 Year Growth Question / CRE Practice 3.2 Supplier management 3.3 Management Information 3.11 CRE/HR/IT Collaboration 3.12 Serviced Offices 3.14 Continuous Improvement and Innovation 3.16 Capital Release Strategy
Net Sales / Employee
(** = correlation is significant at the 0.01 level; * = correlation is significant at the 0.05 level)
Each of the identified correlations is now considered in turn. An important facet of this discussion is to remember the distinction between correlation and causality. The analysis demonstrates a relationship between these factors and financial performance, but it does not identify the direction of the relationship. Do these practices lead to higher financial performance, or do higher performing companies follow these practices? For example, does better supplier management improve RoA, or do those organisations with a better focus on RoA invest more in the quality of their supplier relationships? While this particular study cannot answer that question, it indicates where future research might be of most value.
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Supplier management Suppler management correlates to both RoA and RoE. By comparing a one standard deviation shift in Supplier Management and both variables, and then allowing for the degree of shared variance, an estimate of the scale of influence this practice has on the financial performance measurement can be achieved. This suggests that a 26% increase in advanced supplier management practice relates to: `` An addition of 0.76% to an organisation’s RoA `` An addition of 2.01% to an organisation’s RoE That is, as a company increases its level of maturity in supplier management, it is accompanied by an increase in both ROA and ROE. The CRE extended value-chain that is provided by suppliers appears to play an important role in enterprise success, either as a driver of it or as a consequential investment. The appropriate customer / supplier relationship is often a topic of heated debate in the CRE profession. The correlations found here suggest that supplier management is becoming increasingly effective and that potentially more can be still be achieved by improving practice further. The evidence collected regarding the current level of outsourcing (Figure 5), where only a quarter of organisations have international solution oriented relationships, illustrates this as well.
Quality of operational and management data Up-to-date and accurate operational and management data, that provides complete asset and portfolio- wide management information for analysis, reporting and decision support, correlates positively to both RoA and RoE. The relationship suggests that a 25% improvement in management information practice relates to: `` An addition of 0.82% to an organisation’s RoA `` An addition of 1.77% to an organisation’s RoE There is certainly a logical explanation for this correlation. It is not a surprise that the ability to make better decisions relates to better overall returns on the resources invested in the organisation, and/or that those organisations that achieve better returns on their invested resources demand better management information. As the survey results indicate, CRE’s do not believe their management information data quality is at the highest level of performance today, rating it a 4.93 out of 7. CRE management information is fraught with the complexity of differing systems, technologies, data ownership and workflow integration issues. The evidence of this research suggests that it may be worth investing in better quality data and analytics.
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Close relationships between CRE, HR and IT A close working relationship between CRE, HR and IT teams on both operational and strategic projects and change programmes correlates to both RoA and RoE. The relationship suggests that a 26% improvement in CRE/HR/IT collaboration practice relates to: `` An addition of 1.36% to an organisation’s RoA `` An addition of 2.25% to an organisation’s RoE Improved collaboration between the three components of work process (the physical workplace, technology, and the people who use both) has been discussed for a number of years within CRE circles but so far there has not been much evidence, in public forums at least, that such interaction has taken place to much effect. The results of this research suggests that some organisations have been successful at moving this agenda forward - probably more as a result of the demand from the organisation for understanding new ways of successfully supporting ‘work’, than from the sole sponsorship and initiative of the CRE function. Hopefully, the evidence of this research will spur CRE as an industry to exert leadership and take more decisive action in this regard in the future.
Use of serviced office accommodations The regular use of serviced office accommodation (on-demand workspace used and paid for over very short time scales, e.g. by the hour or day) as an integral part of the CRE portfolio correlates to higher three-year growth, RoA and Tobin’s Q (albeit that the latter two variables are only identified using the parametric test that is less suited to the data but is more sensitive than the non-parametric test). The relationship suggests that a 30% improvement in serviced offices practice relates to: `` An addition of 2.84% to an organisation’s 3 year growth `` An addition of 0.76% to an organisation’s RoA `` An addition of 0.14 to an organisation’s Tobin’s Q There is clearly a discrepancy here between current CRE practice and this correlation, because the use of serviced offices lagged well below all of the other practices in terms of its average maturity score. On closer scrutiny, the possible underlying reasons for the relationship between serviced office use and financial performance may not be surprising. Both three - year growth and Tobin’s Q consider enterprise performance over a period of time and highlight growth (either what has been achieved or to the degree it is expected). Growing organisations may be more likely to use serviced offices as part of their CRE strategy to accommodate that growth. Serviced offices, if used in the appropriate circumstances, should also represent an effective utilisation of assets (paying by use on a variable basis as opposed to a high fixed cost that may be significantly under-utilised), supporting the correlation to identified RoA.
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A culture of continuous improvement and innovation Effective and pro-active cultures for both continuous improvement and innovation correlate to RoA. The relationship suggests that a 28% improvement in continuous improvement and innovation practice relates to an addition of 0.84% to an organisation’s RoA. Once again the dependency of the relationship could be either way or both. It may be that innovative and continuously improving CRE teams make a positive impact on enterprise performance, and/or organisations that are successful at innovating and improving their processes are more successful overall, and this influences the CRE team to fit in with that overall culture. This is certainly a ‘call to arms’ for the CRE industry to consider being more adventurous with its innovation strategies and investment, and to perhaps engage more in focused and targeted research as part of that. This result also suggests that more use of tried and tested continuous improvement tools such as Lean Management, Six Sigma and Kaizen will be helpful as well.
Use of capital release strategies A higher level of capital release strategies that support investment in core business activities negatively correlates to both three-year growth and Tobin’s Q (albeit only using the parametric test that is less suited to the data but is more sensitive than the non-parametric test). The relationship suggests that a 31% increase in capital release practices (i.e. more of it being undertaken) relates to: `` A reduction of 1.52% to an organisation’s 3-year growth `` A reduction of 0.17 to an organisation’s Tobin’s Q At first consideration, this is a surprising result – something that CRE leaders often champion as being an advanced strategy of high value, appears to be doing significant harm to organisations. Once again, deeper reflection provides a logical explanation. Capital release strategies almost always result in a serious reduction in portfolio flexibility and in recent times this may be costing organisations dear, as they seek to restructure and consolidate and cannot now shed surplus real estate. The money raised through such activities may have been poorly invested as well – perhaps in acquisitions at ‘top of the market’ inflated prices that now have little or no hope of making a good return. It may also be a case that those organisations that are performing comparatively poorly have turned to capital release programmes from their CRE portfolios to artificially bolster results in the short term. The bad news here is that the painful effects of the likely more inflexible real estate portfolio may be felt for many more years to come. Either way, this finding suggests the impact of capital release strategies should be better understood.
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It is interesting to observe that, as shown in Figure 13, apart from Continuous Improvement and Innovation, all of the practices that correlate are reported to be at the lower end of the maturity spectrum. This is only relatively good news from the point of view of capital release strategies. It would appear that CRE executives have been focusing more on areas that do not necessarily make an overall difference to enterprise performance. This suggests that there is considerable room for CRE to make a significantly enhanced impact at the enterprise level in the future by investing more in practices with proven effectiveness.
Figure 13: CRE practices that show correlation to financial performance measures
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Practices that Do Not Correlate with Enterprise Financial Performance Ten of the sixteen CRE practices detailed in the survey do not show any significant correlation to enterprise financial performance. Possible reasons for this are briefly considered in turn.
Space and Interior Standards This practice has been an accepted part of CRE operations for a considerable period of time. Whilst it drives efficiency, modern work is now about so much more than a two-dimensional approach.
Governance and Compliance Legal and corporate governance requirements now dictate that this area is probably less distinguishable across organisations. Any differences are potentially only achievable by being worse than others, which is unlikely to be tolerated for long. In essence, this practice is focussed on avoiding negatives rather than adding positives.
Customer Satisfaction Measurement This is the second lowest practice in terms of its maturity, which perhaps reflects the pervading primary focus of real estate as a function on buildings and not people. When CRE ‘en masse’ realises that it is through people that organisations deliver and achieve value, and directly targets how the function can enhance its ability to augment their success, then a relationship may be seen to exist.
Performance Measurement This is a practice that arguably doesn’t directly deliver a tangible output at all, but rather provides a window of clarity on the ability of others that do. As an indirect enabler, it is perhaps not surprising that no correlation exists.
Budget Management As with governance and compliance, ‘good enough’ may be good enough and anything worse is not allowed to exist for long. Also, like performance management, it doesn’t directly deliver outputs but illustrates an aspect of performance of those that do.
Extent of Outsourcing The lack of any correlation here shows that it is not the structure of the service delivery value chain, and the supplier role within it, that matters, but rather the effectiveness of the management of the suppliers (and by extension the whole service delivery value chain) that makes a difference. It is the output that matters, and not necessarily the detail of the manner of the delivery.
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Telework Policy The amount of teleworking is not correlated to overall business success perhaps because the overriding majority use it to some extent (the standard deviation of the responses for this area was very low which is evidence of consistency) and the degree to which it is used may be more dependent upon the nature of the business activity, rather than any differentiating aspect of the business model or organisational culture. There are also conflicting anecdotal cases where it has either proved counter-productive by effectively disengaging workers from the organisation, or has increased productivity, retention and employee satisfaction.
Business Unit Relationship Management This is another CRE practice that is more of a ‘facilitator’ than an ‘outcome’. Being further down the delivery value chain, it has an indirect capacity to impact the business and so it is less surprising that it does not demonstrate any direct correlation.
Sustainability This is arguably currently viewed within the majority of the CRE industry as an area of practice where it is acceptable to undertake the maximum that is commercially viable, but little if anything more. At least in part the focus is on reducing expensive energy consumption and in doing enough to meet publicly-stated carbon reduction targets, thereby minimising the risk of negative publicity. There is little here therefore that presently represents a positive contribution to enterprise performance (rather it is primarily about the avoidance of negatives).
Portfolio Strategy Planning Portfolio Planning is a relatively new area of practice within CRE, certainly at a sophisticated level. It tends to produce returns over the comparatively long-term. This practice may come into prominence with a direct correlation to enterprise success in a few years time when current activity has delivered tangible benefits and the overall level of capability has increased.
CRE Team Diversity This has the strongest reported practice maturity, but it is more likely the intrinsic capability of the leadership team that matters and not directly its diversity. The standard deviation of the responses for this area was also low, demonstrating less differentiation within the sample.
Effective Staff Development It is difficult to assess through a survey like this the quality of the development that is undertaken, merely the fact that something is reportedly done. It could be that current staff development practice within CRE organizations is fairly generic and centred upon professional development, assuring a basic level of competence that does not directly lead to any differentiating capability.
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Business Strategy Collaboration It is perhaps surprising that this practice did not demonstrate any correlation. The lack of one suggests that even those who perform it well are still not achieving a significant difference compared to those who perform less effectively.
Alternative Workplace Strategies This is another area where it might have been expected to have seen a correlation, but the evidence from this survey also shows that it is an area of practice that still has not reached a â€˜mainstreamâ€™ level of deployment in most organisations. The standard deviation of the responses for this area was also low, demonstrating less differentiation within the sample. Once it does become more deeply deployed within organisations (as the survey predicts it will over the next 5 years) then a different result may become evident.
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8. Final Thoughts Corporate Real Estate has made considerable advances in its scope of duties and management practices over the last twenty years or so. There have always been nagging doubts as to whether this really matters in terms of enterprise performance. Without rigorous and clear research to document the benefits of advanced CRE management, CRE has rarely achieved a seat at or near the top table of an organisationâ€™s executive leadership, unlike the achievements by the HR and IT functions at many companies. This research has shown for the first time that some aspects of how CRE undertakes its scope of duties have a demonstrable relationship to enterprise financial performance. Whether CRE causes higher performance (at least in part), or is a consequence of it, has at this stage not been determined - but it does suggest that these relationships are ripe for future exploration and research. The good news from this is that CRE potentially can make a difference to an organisationâ€™s success, and can now begin to prove it. The bad news is that the activities and practices with this potential are, for the most part, amongst the least advanced and developed within the field (and one of them is an impediment). The further good news, however, is that there is therefore plenty of room for improvement and thereby plenty of potential for an even bigger impact from CRE in the future. These research findings can act as a catalyst for others to take a more in-depth look at the identified relationships. Whether through the analysis of larger samples to challenge and/or validate these findings, or by a deeper examination of specific CRE practices - to better understand their relationship to enterprise success and what needs to be done to maximise the beneficial interaction - the results of such work can only benefit a discipline that is currently under-researched and critically lacking in the credible evidence it needs to prove its worth in the enterpriseâ€™s production value-chain.
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References Ansoff, I. (1987); Corporate Strategy; Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, U.K. Davenport, T. (1997); Information Ecology: Mastering the information and Knowledge Environment; Oxford University Press, New York, USA. Drucker, P.F. (1992); Managing for the Future; Butterworth Heinemann Ltd, Oxford, U.K. Ehrbar, A. (1998); EVA: Economic Value Added; John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, USA. Handy, C. (1993); Understanding Organisations; Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, U.K. Handy, C. (1994); The Empty Raincoat: Making Sense of the Future; Hutchinson, London, U.K. Harvey-Jones, J. (1991); Getting it Together: Memoirs of a troubleshooter; William Heineman Ltd. Huselid, M.A. (1995); The Impact of Human Resource Management Practices on Turnover, Productivity, and Corporate Financial Performance; The Academy of Management Journal, Vol.38, No. 3, pp 635-672. Johnson, G. and Scholes, K. (2002); Exploring Corporate Strategy; Pearson Education Limited, Harlow, U.K. Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P. (1996); The Balance Scorecard; Translating Strategy into Action; Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA, USA. Mintzberg, H (1994); The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning; Prentice Hall, Hemel Hempstead, U.K. Moore, J.I. (1992); Writers on Strategy and Strategic Management; Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, U.K. O’Mara, M.A. (1999) Strategy and Place: Managing Corporate Real Estate and Facilities for Competitive Advantage. The Free Press. New York, NY. Peters, T. (1992); Liberation Management: Necessary Disorganisation for the Nanosecond Nineties; Macmillan, London, U.K. Pugh, D.S. (1971); Organisation Theory: Selected Readings; Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, U.K. Sadler, P. (1991); Designing Organisations: The foundation for excellence; Mercury Books, London, U.K. Senge, P.M. (1990); The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organisation; Century Business, London, U.K. Varcoe, B. (2002);. “The performance measurement of corporate real estate portfolio management” HENRY STEWART PUBLICATIONS 1472-5967 Journal of Facilities Management VOL. 1 NO.2 pp 117–130.
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Appendix – Survey Content and Questions The following set of statements relate to your opinion and assessment about your CRE team and what it has actually done over the last 2 years. Please do not record your aspirations or current strategies for the future, but what has actually happened. For each statement please show the extent to which you believe your CRE team undertakes the practice described by the statement. Do this by using the scale presented below. If you strongly agree with the statement and consider that it applies across the whole CRE team and real estate portfolio, select the ‘seven’. If you strongly disagree or do not consider the practice to be undertaken at all, select the ‘one’. If your assessment is not so strong, select one of the numbers in between that properly reflects your assessment of the relative degree to which the practice has been performed. There are no right or wrong answers – we are only interested in the number that best shows your perception of what has been performed in your organisation. Please do not deliberate too long on each question – go with your first instinct. 1. The CRE function has dedicated ‘relationship managers’ who are constantly engaged with business units and groups, pro-actively suggesting improvements as well as responding to requests. 2. The management of all suppliers is very effective at both an individual supplier and industry sector level, undertaken in partnership by sourcing and CRE functional specialists. 3. Operational and management data is up-to-date and accurate, providing complete asset and portfolio wide management information for analysis, reporting and decision support on demand. 4. Sustainability is a primary strategic priority for the CRE function, with an overall aim to be at the leading edge of current practice. 5. Space and interior standards are defined, managed and deployed by the CRE team across all locations in the portfolio without exception. 6. Portfolio strategy and planning (so that the real estate portfolio is best matched to current and projected future business demand and market dynamics) is a distinct functional effort within the CRE function. It keeps up-to-date city, regional and portfolio plans aligned to projected business needs. 7. Governance and compliance obligations (including health and safety and risk) are rigorously managed. A policy of maintaining a uniformly high standard across the portfolio is pursued, with centrally audited compliance being validated at all appropriate management levels across the CRE organisation.
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8. The CRE team is very diverse, embracing a broad mix of professional backgrounds, CRE and business experience, geographic locations, ethnic backgrounds, etc. 9. The satisfaction of the users/occupants of the facilities is regularly measured across the whole portfolio using a standardised approach and questionnaire. Results are analysed for trends and opportunities for driving improvements. 10. Performance measurement is a key management tool, using a consolidated scorecard of objectives and key performance indicators which link to overall strategy and action plans, tracking progress to desired outcomes. 11. The CRE team works very closely with HR, IT and other support functions on both operational and strategic projects/change programmes. 12. Serviced office accommodation (on-demand workspace used and paid for over very short time scales e.g. by the hour or day) is an integral part of the CRE portfolio strategy and is regularly used for a variety of needs where it represents best value. 13. Effective staff development is critical. Each member of staff has an agreed set of performance and development objectives which are regularly reviewed with line management. Individual and team- wide training needs are routinely funded. 14. The CRE team has an effective and pro-active culture of both continuous improvement and innovation. Each is considered a shared responsibility across the extended CRE and supplier team. 15. The CRE team works very closely and strategically with the business. It is involved at or near the beginning of possible strategic change projects and remains an integral component of the planning and implementation. 16. The CRE team constantly seeks commercially viable opportunities to release capital from the portfolio for investment in core business activities.
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For the next five questions, you are given 4 options - from which you need to select the statement that best fits the practice of your organisation. Again, there are no right or wrong answers – we are only interested in the answer that best fits your perception of what has been performed in your organisation over the last 2 years. And again, please do not deliberate too long on each question – go with your first instinct. 17. CRE costs are budgeted and managed: 1. At a local operation/country/business unit level. 2. Centrally by the CRE team. 3. Centrally by the CRE team, with some costs, e.g. hospitality, being recharged to business units based upon consumption. 4. Centrally by the CRE team, with all costs being recharged to business units. 18. At what level of activity do you generally use suppliers? 1. At a tactical level for specialist locally - delivered services. 2. At a national and/or regional level for operational service delivery, e.g. lease administration, maintenance, cleaning/janitorial, etc. 3. At a national and/or regional level, for both operational service delivery and management functions. 4. At an international level based around a limited number of principal relationships responsible for integrated solutions across a wide range of functions and/or countries. 19. Our organisation’s formal telework or telecommuting policy (where employees are allowed to work from home or another location) applies to: 1. No-one. There is no formal telework policy and/or we do not allow it. 2. Less than 20% of the workforce. 3. Between 20% and 40% of the workforce. 4. Over 40% of the workforce. 20. Alternative workplace strategies (where a range of flexible workplace settings are provided for an employee’s work in places that are not assigned individually) are available for: 1. Less than 10% of the workforce. 2. Between 10% and 20% of the workforce. 3. Between 20% and 40% of the workforce. 4. Over 40% of the workforce.
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21. How do you think the executive leadership (CEO, CFO, etc.) of the enterprise would describe the CRE team and its performance? 1. CRE is an obstacle to our success. 2. Not sure – we don’t have much to do with CRE. They are not significant to our success. 3. CRE seems to be effective, doesn’t cause too many problems and is a useful resource. 4. They are an important strategic asset, adding real value to the organisation and its overall success. For the final two questions, you are again given 4 options - from which you need to select the statement that best fits the intended practice of your organisation. Again, there are no right or wrong answers – we are only interested in the answer that best fits your perception of what you will be doing in the future. 22. Within the next five years, what proportion of employees at your organisation could be utilising alternative workplace arrangements (see definition in question 20)? 1. Less than 10% of the workforce. 2. Between 10% and 20% of the workforce. 3. Between 20% and 40% of the workforce. 4. Over 40% of the workforce. 23. When leasing or developing a new location in the future we will: 1. Have no formal policies related to building energy consumption or sustainability. 2. Prefer that the buildings have some sort of energy rating. 3. Have a strong preference for buildings with a top internationally recognised sustainability rating, e.g. LEED Gold or higher, BREEAM Excellent or higher. 4. Only acquire buildings with a top internationally - recognised sustainability rating, e.g LEED Gold or higher, BREEAM Excellent or higher.
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About the Authors
Dr. Barry Varcoe FRICS. Barry Varcoe is a visionary, researcher, CRE executive and writer on the corporate real estate and facilities management industry and the impact it has on the organisations and people who use what it creates. He has undertaken senior leadership positions in a consulting practice, global service provider and an international financial services organisation, and is the immediate past chair of leading industry association CoreNet Global. He has also recently completed a research doctorate. He is currently the Global Head of CRE&FM at Zurich Financial Services. Barry is a regular speaker at conferences around the world, including at CoreNet Global, IFMA, BIFM, FMAA and BCO events. He has published a wide range of research papers and articles and has contributed to a number of books including ‘Reinventing the Workplace’ and ‘Productivity and Quality Management Frontiers’. W: www.reresonance.com M: +44 (0)7835 835432
Dr. Martha O’Mara PhD. CRE. Martha O’Mara is a co-founder and Managing Director of Corporate Portfolio Analytics, which applies portfolio planning processes, real estate market intelligence, and forecasting tools to corporate portfolios. CP Analytics serves some of the largest companies in the US, and influences occupancy decisions for more than 600 million square feet of commercial space. Dr. O’Mara’s book, Strategy and Place: Managing Corporate Real Estate and Facilities for Competitive Advantage was published in 1999 by The Free Press and is the definitive source for aligning organisational and strategic objectives with long-term corporate real estate portfolio planning. She also lectures in real estate executive development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where she previously served as a Professor of real estate for nine years and taught real estate finance and development, asset management, location strategy, doctoral research methods and design studios on urban development. Dr. O’Mara holds a Ph.D. in Organisational Behaviour jointly awarded by the Harvard Business School and Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She also has an MA and an MBA from Harvard University, and earned a BA from the University of California, Irvine. Dr. O’Mara was elected a Counsellor of Real Estate in 2006, and serves on the Harvard University Alumni Board for Real Estate. W: www.cpanalytics.com T: +1 617 938 6464
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About Regus Regus is the worldâ€™s largest provider of workplace solutions, offering the widest range of products and services that allow individuals and companies to work however, wherever, and whenever they need to. Regus operates over 1100 Business centres across 500 cities in 85 countries. Products and services include fully furnished, equipped and staffed offices, world-class business support services, meeting conference and training facilities and the largest network of public video-conference rooms, all serving over 200,000 clients daily. Regus also supports the growing trend of mobile and home working. Supporting workers at home and on the road, with services such as Virtual Office and Virtual PA, providing dedicated business addresses as their business base as well as mail and call-handling services. Regus also operates business centres in airports and other commercial hubs, to serve clients wherever they find themselves working. Companies of all sizes use Regus solutions to reduce costs and remove the burden of property ownership and management and to create a workplace to suit however they want to work.
For more information please visit www.regus.com
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Whilst every effort has been taken to verify the accuracy of this information, Regus cannot accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this report or any of the information, opinions or conclusions set out in this report.