How A New Gig, Head Of Remote Work, Impacts The Real Estate Equation

Employers will increasingly look for self-starters and those who can manage customers in different markets.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.” For on-the-job advisor Liz Burrow, this quote from Upton Sinclair sums up the real estate industry’s unwillingness to face the fact that remote working will stay here. To thrive in the new world, office real estate professionals should think about how to profitably engage in the newest role that big corporations are playing: the remote working manager.

It’s both a job title and a sign of the times. Over the past few months, numerous reports of the growth of remote work have mentioned the growth of remote work leaders, a new corporate role that ties technology, human resources and real estate together at a time when dispersed teams are increasingly common.

The new look has become more important as there are still big questions open about when the majority of employees will return to the office. Recent estimates suggest that Manhattan will not reach office use before COVID until 2023. A recent report found that 59% of businesses expect their office space to shrink.

Tech firms like GitLab, with 700 employees without a head office, helped promote these roles to ensure that their hiring, retention, and performance policies include coworkers out of the office.

Whether or not the title takes root long-term, there is evidence that more and more companies are trying to formalize and adopt more strategic guidelines for remote working. This means that new roles and decision makers are partly charged with making real estate decisions for an increasing percentage of a company’s workforce.

Burrow, a workspace advisor and former vice president of workplace strategy at WeWork, said this new hybrid position expands the reach and scope of the human resources department, beyond the office and on-site experience, to seek out more of different types and levels of support to focus So that employees have what they need to be able to work remotely and occasionally in an office environment. Most companies looking for such a position typically qualify HR staff or occasionally switch real estate positions rather than hiring outside the company.

The role can encompass anything from technology and materials – furniture companies like Herman Miller make packages and bundles for home office workers – to what kind of group workspaces remote workers need.

“Since the position is about people management, the real estate team has to be there to wait and see what happens,” she said. That means commercial real estate companies need to be careful about how this emerging position is performing and how much power it has in choosing office space for remote workers.

First, Burrow said, the real estate industry must welcome the proliferation of these roles as a sign that remote working is more permanent and in response to more than just the pandemic.

Working with these new remote working leaders may offer the industry the opportunity to adapt and serve those who wish to make these switches more permanent.

Burrow believes that even the most distant organization is likely to keep an office footprint, albeit perhaps smaller, and will look for smaller, dispersed spaces and new coworking options for personal events several times a year to build camaraderie and corporate culture . Working with remote work leaders to create collaboration hubs and flexible workspaces that suit their needs will be critical, especially in smaller markets.

Above all, she said, she will look at the role of real estate decisions from a slightly different perspective. The existence of the position is a “wake-up call for organizations” that cannot work in silos. Real estate, technology and personnel have to work together. It’s a complex combination of needs, and anyone who wants to provide real estate to remote teams needs to be fluent in the cultural needs and complexities of new norms regarding remote work.

Burrow suggested that many understand the data first. Examining case studies from other companies, as well as how the use of common spaces has changed during the pandemic and may have shifted afterwards, provide important insights that are crucial in helping customers find the right space.

“These people will be tasked with creating a distant culture and the rituals that go with it,” she said. “It may not have to do with real estate directly, but ideally, you will work with real estate to make decisions based on those goals.”