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JLL Report: Workforce Mobility Programs Are Helping Companies Retain Well-Educated, Young Talent


Jones Lang LaSalle survey 504 corporate directors across the global to determine the priorities on their corporate agendas. More than a third (35 percent) are focused on business growth with 11 percent still facing cost pressures. Lauren Picariello describes how corporations are enabling productivity while delivering cost savings.

Recently Chicago-based real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) released the results of its inaugural Global Corporate Real Estate Survey.

During this year-long project, JLL gathered and analyzed insights from over 500 corporate real estate (CRE) executives working across diverse industries; most notably the financial services and banking industries. When completed, the survey revealed four major trends expected to impact CRE for the next 12 to 24 months-if not longer.

Area Development interviewed Lauren Picariello, JLL's Director of Occupier Research, to find out more about one largely under-reported trend: the rise of the "workforce mobility program" around the globe.

Picariello said the survey revealed that across all sectors, early adaptors of workforce mobility programs are emerging; particularly in the technology and financial sectors. Such initiatives exist to better utilize office space, reduce the square footage of space used by the workforce, and attract/retain high-quality talent.

According to the findings of this exhaustive landmark report, 70 percent of companies in North America and South America had some kind of workforce mobility program, and were trend leaders over most EU and Asian companies, she noted.

"From conversations with our clients, we're seeing they're focusing more on finding the true costs of their space, and quantifying and qualifying that info by using better analysis tools," said Picariello. Relatedly, that activity is driving efforts to become "more strategic" about where employees need to be located.

"Companies are moving back to the urban core, and there are a few reasons for that," she explained. "Frankly, the suburban corporate campus is losing its charm and becoming too isolated for the younger workforce. Companies are recognizing that today, 'innovation' happens in cities, and these areas are attracting-and keeping-the top talent they need to grow and stay competitive."

Picariello said the latest demographics data shows Baby Boomers are starting to retire, and are being replaced by the Millennials. Members of this much-younger generation were born between 1982 and 2003. "Millennials will have such a [strong] impact on Corporate Culture," she said, adding that they want to live and work in the urban environment as it makes them feel "less isolated" than the family focused suburbs. Other perks: Cities offer young professionals a plethora of unique, fast-paced amenities; reduced commute times (doubles as an energy-saving green initiative), and increased opportunities for after-work networking with other Millennials.

All this explains why more companies, on an international scale, are setting up operations in cities to find these qualified, well-educated and tech-savvy employees.

"Along similar lines, we're discovering that companies are reducing their square footage, but at the same time increasing their employee head count to increase the utilization rate," said Picariello. "It's all about firing up innovation and productivity."

In general, industry data shows that companies use just 40 to 50 percent of their office space, she explained. In this current financial crisis, hanging on to unused or under-utilized space can be risky, she added. "There is a lot of effort now being put into driving up those densities, and companies are seeing the value in creating more collaborative spaces."

While the individual office will never go away, Picariello said the corner office of the future will be "glass walls and very modern looking. It also will have the ability to be used as a conference room so when the executive if away from the office, the space can be more fluid, less isolating, and be shared by others."

In sum, the JLL report reveals that companies have moved from a focus on cost saving and executing short-term tactical programs, to a focus on growing in "very strategic ways" by consolidating in some markets or making existing space more productive. "It's a mindset that helps them adapt, gain flexibility, manage occupancy costs, reduce risk..and sets them up for future success."

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