--> Gill Blog: Re-Evaluating Real Estate's Familiar Mantra

Gill Blog

Friday, February 06, 2004

Re-Evaluating Real Estate's Familiar Mantra

When I spoke at the Real Property Institute of Canada’s annual conference a year ago, it occurred to me that my topic – decentralization and business continuity - seemed somewhat out of place. After all, this was a platform where real estate people got together and exchanged information about building trends, net rents and tenant inducements. Business continuity just seemed a little misplaced in this forum, but I ploughed ahead. It was fortunate I did, as the topic went over pretty well, garnered a little media attention here and there, and also became the launching point for Gill Advisors. A year later it seemed clear that some of the fundamentals of BCP have gained traction in real estate circles.

At this year’s conference it seemed the talk of business continuity had made its way into many break-time conversations. Most participants had indeed connected the dots and realized the importance in fusing principles of business continuity into their traditional discipline. Along those lines, there were a couple of presentations really stood out.

First, Tony Paterson and Bert Cowan of Competitive Insights Incorporated deftly tackled the implications of BCP on property managers. An Ottawa-based firm, Competitive Insights seemed to take a very methodical and holistic approach in explaining the interconnectivity of topics to the audience. There was also a session on sustainable real property that was structured as a panel discussion which discussed the direction of the federal government of Canada in sustainable development – a subject of particular interest to me given the discussion I gave on smart building technology as it related to business continuity.

Stan Kaczmarczyk is the Director of the Innovative Workplaces division of the General Service Administration (GSA) in Washington D.C. I found this quote describing the new division on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) website:
This new division of GSA was formed in May 2000 to handle a host of workplace environment issues that can impact productivity, recruitment, and employee retention. Benefits of teleworking programs include environmental benefits; easing traffic congestion; improving work-life balance; increasing recruitment and retention potential; increasing employee performance and productivity; and potential real estate cost savings in the long term.
Mr. Kaczmarczyk led two discussions: Managing Telework and Innovative Workplace Strategies. The underlying message of these sessions seemed clear – when technology, risk mitigation of human capital, and the increased demand for worker flexibility meet at a central fusion point, it moves the conceptual notion of a decentralized workplace into the realm of reality. He also made it a point to remind us that a teleworking or innovative workplace strategy is by no means a seamless process that occurs instantaneously, instead, it requires a comprehensive plan requiring some fundamental reengineering of work group designs, processes and management structures.

As a rapidly changing technology landscape now refutes earlier notions that location and proximity were still necessary in a wired world, we wonder if that old real estate mantra "location, location, location" is more effectively applied in other realms.


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