2021 Outlook in Corporate Real Estate & Facilities Management

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2021 Outlook in Corporate Real Estate & Facilities Management

By Rakesh Kishan, Managing Principal, Trascent

In this perspectives piece Rakesh Kishan explores the three key focal points for Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Management (CRE / FM) strategies for 2021 and beyond. The three focal areas highlight a stronger CRE / FM value proposition, with bold, creative and transformational approaches to the volatile business environment.

2020 was a tumultuous year from many aspects. One of the significant aspects of 2020 is the unrelenting grip of the global pandemic on business life, as wave after wave of pandemic surges have crashed against nations already grappling with the economic consequences of lockdowns.

But there are bright-spots as well – enormous gains in the tech, life-sciences, consumer, logistics and several other sectors. The whip-saw effects of economic turbulence have served to crystallize a singular focus for Corporate Real Estate organizations. Flexibility and new workplace solutions are key for the C-Suite in response to a highly volatile business environment. To meet this challenge, Corporate Real Estate organizations must re-imagine and rethink their mission as well as ways of doing business. Some companies may think relying on a “program” or “philosophy” will see them through. This is false hope. Successful companies have realized a long time ago that there is no such thing as a panacea in business.

Three Focal Points for 2021 CRE / FM Strategy

Corporate Real Estate leaders will have to examine cost and business drivers to develop the new strategies for tomorrow. There are 3 key focal points these will revolve around. Firstly, re-defining the physical and virtual workplace in a “post pandemic” emergent environment – where many precautions will continue well into 2021 and 2022, depending upon the effectiveness of the vaccine roll-out, in both mature and emerging markets.

Secondly, CRE leaders will have to redefine contracts and business partnerships differently. For too long, today’s contracts have relied upon the same approaches to the same problems. Many current contract and commercial models performed unfavorably during the pandemic. This is where the mirage of a panacea solution can be attractive. However, new thinking on how to make contracts flexible to adapt to the changing needs of 2021 will be vital. This will have to go beyond adopting a “philosophy” or “model”. It will have to delve into a fundamental reset of how supplier relationships need to be structured and incentivized differently.

Finally, CRE leaders will have to examine their technology landscape. For too long, CRE has invested in multi-point solutions, leading to a cluttering effect of systems that are divergent, disconnected and at times incongruent with the mobile and flexible needs of customers (internal associates and end-users). CRE leaders will have to strengthen their organizations and add talent to develop technology roadmaps with a view to the future and self-disrupt and digitize Corporate Real Estate.

How CRE / FM Will Bring Value in 2021

These three focal areas will bring a much stronger 2021 CRE value proposition into clear focus: efficient, adaptable workplace portfolios, operated by lean and efficient supplier delivery partners; technology driven engagement with corporate associates to drive an enhanced user experience across the virtual and physical workplace. And finally, stewardship of the corporate sustainability mandate, leading programs, initiatives and reporting towards a zero-carbon goal.

To achieve their aspirations in 2021 and beyond, CRE organizations will have to become much more adept at working across divisions and across peer organizations such as HR, IT and Procurement. Incrementalism will be insufficient. The answer will more likely be found in bold, creative and transformational approaches to CRE and Facilities Management.


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