Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2020, According to JLL

The latest edition of JLL’s study points toward COVID-19 as an overriding factor behind much of what’s shaping corporate real estate strategies this year.
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The long-term societal and real estate implications of the COVID-19 pandemic  “could be felt for years to come, changing our ways of living and working, ” JLL’s Top 10 Global CRE Trends report predicts. 

This is the fifth edition of the report, but it is perhaps the most portentous. According to the report, here’s how the workplace will evolve and change:


READ ALSO: CRE Development Is Hampered by COVID-19 Protocols


1. The augmented workplace

For this one, think “digitally enabled real estate.” In the short term, that could mean accelerating remote working. In the longer term, it’s about using digital technologies to create smarter and more personalized working environments, perhaps for employees working in diverse locations.  

2.  Fast data

The numbers are a bit stunning: 5G typically increases data usage by 300 percent to 1,000 percent versus 4G, while enterprise information doubles every 40 months in the average organization. Trends like that are driving majorities of employees to expect faster downloads and better speed than Wi-Fi networks, all with better reliability.

3. The conscious workplace

The key here is inclusive workplace cultures that attract talent and ultimately improve business performance. Companies with such cultures are twice as likely to hit or exceed their financial goals. A vast majority of job seekers look for workplace diversity in a new job, and Millennials are likely to stay almost twice as long at “a company that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion.” Another focus is healthy buildings, which calls for attention to ventilation, air filtration and cleaning.

4. Metrics that matter

Conventional measures of corporate real estate value, such as space efficiency, are giving way to such new sources of value as employee experience and productivity. Expect to see more emphasis on “aligning CRE objectives with wider enterprise strategy.”

5.  Flex 2.0

About 55 percent of North American companies are currently using coworking solutions to some extent, which is on par with Europe, the Middle East and Africa and well behind Latin America (about 70 percent). JLL advises: “Calibrate your CRE portfolio by incorporating flex to meet the needs of the employee and improve the overall experience.” Also, integrate your approach to flex space with your business continuity plan.

6.  Innovation geographies

These metros come in a half-dozen flavors, from innovation centers (Berlin, Stockholm) to transitioning cities (Manila, Bucharest, Hyderabad). As economic and operating conditions start to return to their pre-pandemic state, JLL advises companies to “embed innovation and talent analytics into portfolio planning.”

7.  Towards net zero

Decarbonizing the CRE life cycle is crucial, because about 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are generated by building construction and operation. By monitoring and reducing building energy usage and emissions—and paying to offset any remaining emissions—companies help build responsible brands.

8.  Ecosystem thinking

Enhancing collaboration with nontraditional partners and sectors is a growing trend among innovative companies, as they embrace ideas from academic institutions, for example, or business incubators. 

9.  Vibrancy

This is about “amenity-rich spaces and places,” according to JLL. The report recommends, among other approaches, reviewing and optimizing workplace services and amenities as workplaces are fully reopened.

10. Adaptive CRE

Strategy has traditionally been a linear process, the report noted, “But when the environment is highly uncertain, it is difficult to have clarity on the path forward.” That’s part of why, as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve, corporate real estate teams need to stay agile and focus on operational resilience.

Read the full report on JLL’s website.