As we stop and reflect on what is, for most people, week 2 or 3 of our imposed lock down, a massive call out to all FM teams globally. They have been working flat out to help businesses stay functioning and open where this is necessary, as well as lending additional support to front-line businesses. As an industry they should be immensely proud.
I came across this quote which sums it up for me: “we are not working from home, we are AT HOME, during a crisis, trying to work”
What do we now know?
We know the tech works and with 5G upon us it will only get better. Companies will want more reliability and faster speeds both at home and in the office.
Tech departments will get the budgets to upgrade networks and install the right applications to allow us to be ready.
Microsoft Teams grew from 32 million daily active users to 44 million, in a single week (and that was as of March 19th)! The company stated those users generated over 900 million meetings and calling minutes on Teams each day last week. Zoom’s stock is up 300% in just over a year and is now a household name.
We have been using a great piece of software that allows podcasting remotely - albeit it’s more fun to be in the studio with our guests, the show must go on and it does. The latest is the first in a new series titled ‘Rebalancing the Work-Life Experience’ that reflects on the ‘new normal’ co-working environment and Cushman & Wakefield’s Experience per Square Foot™ tool.
We also know we have good data at our fingertips thanks to corporates being well organised and responding in 2019 to IFRS 16 – can you imagine if that hadn’t been thrust upon us?
This data allows us to understand and respond quickly to internal requests from the CFO who wants immediate answers. It also emphasises the need to keep financial information (current rent, tax and service charge information) up to date - not something every corporate has been willing or able to do – expect changes here - corporates will want to hold more current financial data to help with any crisis that they might face.
Listen to our podcast – ‘COVID-19: Did your global data pass the test?’
Key priorities for corporates right now are keeping the lights on and the business intact, in the face of whatever recession we go into – V, U, or for the pessimist, L.
So, what does that mean – well ‘cash is king’ and we have already seen companies talking openly about cutting and stopping all dividend payments and in the case of the banks, this being imposed on them.
For corporate real estate, now is the time to review every project and reconfirm if they need to go ahead and with the same parameters.
There is no point in signing a new lease if we can’t get construction workers to site, moves completed and there are no workers allowed to go back to the office, due to government restrictions.
Expect to renegotiate extensions to existing leases and allow leases to expire where they are not needed.
We also need to have difficult discussions with landlords about rent reductions/holidays/part payments – being mindful that they could also face difficulties as a result. Legal terms and conditions also need to be reviewed.
It’s also time to start focusing on what is appropriate when we go back to work.
It is said that human habits take at least 21 days to change and we will be in lock down for longer.
We should be discussing with business leaders now how they can think about the physical and virtual office differently, to the advantage of the employees and the bottom line.
Make no mistake, employees will want something different when they return.