European firms ahead of the curve in charge to flexible workspaces

Over half of CRE managers plan to or are in the process of moving towards flexible working models. Read the press release here.

Zurich, 3 May 2021: New research conducted by Locatee – the workspace occupancy and analytics solution, has found that employee wellbeing is the top priority for CRE managers over the next 5 years. The research details the opinions of corporate real estate managers (CREMs) from across Europe, outlining the changes they have seen during the pandemic, and how their businesses will adapt for the future. It follows research conducted in the US earlier this year by Locatee which showed US organisations were failing to adapt to post-pandemic realities.


  • European Corporate Real Estate (CRE) managers are leading the charge towards progressive office models, with employee wellbeing and health the most important focus
  • Over half of CRE managers plan to or are in the process of moving towards flexible working models
  • 70% of the firms surveyed are  planning to or have already implemented office redesigns to accommodate the shift towards hybrid work
  • Despite progressive changes, 50% lack the data to effectively determine next steps


Europe sets 5-year goals firmly around employee wellbeing  

Responding to employees’ needs and attracting new talent are clear priorities when it comes to re-shaping workspaces. 88% of respondents feel that employee wellbeing and satisfaction is a critical factor in shaping workspace configuration over the next two years.

59% of executives flag an increased need to focus on talent attraction and retention. This ties in with growing demand from employees for flexible working options post-pandemic. 

For businesses, the past year has revolved around performance, cost management, and business resiliency. CRE managers have taken on additional responsibilities for managing occupational health and safety in the workplace, with 98% of those surveyed stating they expect their role to change to encompass this over the next five years. 


Flexible working, flexible workspaces 

When it comes to new models of working, 90% of respondents highlighted employees’ increased desire to work flexibly as a ‘very significant’ or ‘significant’ challenge over the next five years. The shift from full time office attendance to a hybrid model has led many CRE managers to reassess the space optimization and efficiency of their current portfolio. As a result, 70% of the firms surveyed are planning to or have already implemented office redesigns to accommodate the shift towards hybrid work. 

The majority (74%) of European CRE managers are already utilizing a progressive flexible workspace strategy, in contrast to the US where 60% of office space is assigned. This preference is set to continue growing, with 90% of European firms planning to move to hot-desking, co-working and activity-based configurations in the next two years, compared to just 38% of American firms. 


European CREMs falling behind US peers’ data collection

Whilst the majority (88%) of respondents surveyed feel that employee wellbeing and satisfaction is an important factor in shaping workplace configuration over the next two years,  most lack the data to do so. Despite employee satisfaction ranking as a key business outcome, only 57% of EU firms use this metric as part of workspace performance measurement.

Despite European CRE managers advocating a more progressive and responsive approach to workspace strategies, US companies currently outperform Europe in all areas of data collection. European CRE managers are also severely lacking in footfall data collection, with just 59% measuring how people are utilizing and moving through space. 

 82% of European CRE respondents cite a lack of access to accurate data as a significant hurdle to achieving business initiatives, including improving employee satisfaction. However, the research also revealed that 29% of executives plan to decrease data collection in wellbeing areas over the next two years, revealing a misalignment between the CRE and executive functions within global corporate multinationals. 

Thomas Kessler, CEO and co-founder at Locatee comments: 

“The pandemic has caused many businesses to reassess their CRE priorities, and we’re seeing an increased importance placed on employees’  wellbeing and satisfaction. s. This has been driven by skyrocketing demand for flexible working models, and our research shows that European CRE managers are leading the charge in creating spaces which are fit for purpose both physically and mentally. 

However, a lack of data will create real challenges for CRE managers in Europe when it comes to implementing these progressive strategies and initiatives. As society continues to move towards a fully integrated hybrid working model, companies will need to ensure that their CRE teams have access to comprehensive data in order to future-proof the office for years to come.”


The full report can be found here

CRE in Europe survey (2021)

About Locatee

Locatee is the leading workplace analytics solution that transforms complex data into space utilization insights. Developed with a deep understanding of the corporate real estate challenges facing the modern world of work, Locatee empowers workplace leaders to make decisions about their business buildings with confidence. 

Locatee’s solution utilizes existing WiFi and ethernet networks to measure office occupancy and can be used to answer questions such as whether to downsize, if it’s the right time to terminate a lease, or to help restructure spaces to create places where people love to work


Research methodology

To gain an up-to-date insight into evolving workspace configurations and the role of CRE managers entwined in this process, Locatee commissioned the independent research firm Verdantix to undertake independent, anonymized phone interviews with 51 executives in real estate, workplace, and facilities management roles based in Europe. 

This report follows on from a previous study conducted with executives in the US, with relevant comparisons made throughout. Respondents spanned five industry sectors in four different regions and worked for firms with typically more than 10,000 employees globally.

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Locatee is the leading Workplace Analytics solution that empowers you to make fact-based decisions about your real estate portfolio by transforming complex data into space utilisation insights.

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