From Brick-and-Mortar to Bytes and Algorithms: Exploring the Intersection of CRE and Tech

Tuesday, May 30 , 2023

Many CRE companies are borrowing from the tech sector's approach to sustainable workplaces. Here are 8 sustainability-focused attributes tech has pioneered and how real estate companies can emulate them.

By: Mike Bascombe, Principal Consultant at Incendium Consulting



Commercial real estate (CRE) is increasingly taking a page from the technology sector's playbook.   

As technology companies have pioneered innovative business models, work environments, and management styles over the past few decades, real estate companies are now emulating many of these same practices. They are adapting them to focus on environmental and social impact whilst driving an entirely new value proposition for occupiers. Space is no longer a viable product on its own; solutions are needed to woo the occupiers of today and into the future. 

Management and leadership styles often associated more with startups in Silicon Valley are now gaining momentum in the CRE sector. Decentralized decision making, collaboration, social impact as an organizing principle, and a sense of shared purpose are gradually becoming more widespread.  

Creative leaders are empowering their teams to come up with and implement innovative sustainability ideas. They are using tools like B Corps certification to build environmental and social governance into the DNA of their companies. 

Moreover, sustainability is becoming a driving force for business model innovation in the CRE sector. Companies are experimenting with product and service offerings that generate both commercial and societal value. They are looking at how to reduce waste and make the most of resources throughout their supply chain and production process. Many are working to enhance the sustainability of the overall customer experience. 

CRE companies are also borrowing from the tech sector's approach to workplace design and company culture. Open floor plans, lots of natural light, and generous amenities are becoming commonplace.  

But creative firms are putting their own stamp on these practices with sustainability front and centre. They are reducing their environmental footprint, using sustainable and eco-friendly materials and office supplies, and embracing wellness programs focused on both employees and the planet. 

The CRE sector's spin on tech-inspired business practices holds a lot of promise for driving positive change. When combined with the imagination and artistic talents the creative sector is known for, these sustainability-focused innovations can have a meaningful impact. 

By taking the best of what the tech sector has pioneered—from innovative work environments to a sense of shared purpose—and combining it with a sustainability mindset, the corporate real estate industry is poised to drive positive change.


There are 8 areas where this emulation is particularly noticeable: 

+ Innovation: Tech companies are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible, developing new products, services, and solutions.  Real estate companies are also adopting new technologies, such as IoT devices, virtual reality, and AI-powered analytics, to improve operations and create value for their clients. 


+ Agility: Tech companies are often quick to adapt to market changes and are able to pivot their focus when necessary.  By embracing this same type of agility via digital transformation, real estate companies can be more flexible and respond to changes in the market, as well as to their clients' needs. 


+ Scalability: Technology-driven solutions can often be scaled quickly, allowing tech companies to grow rapidly when they find product-market fit. Already, some corporate real estate companies are leveraging technology platforms to streamline operations and enable the rapid scaling of their assets and services. 


+ Data-driven decision-making: Tech companies typically leverage data to inform their decisions, optimize their operations, and create better user experiences. Real estate companies are increasingly relying on data analytics to inform their decisions about property investments, tenant preferences, and market trends. 


+ Talent: Tech companies often attract top-tier talent by offering competitive compensation, flexible work arrangements, and a stimulating work environment. To stay competitive in the rapidly evolving real estate industry, companies are attracting tech-savvy professionals with backgrounds in data science, software engineering, and other relevant fields. 


+ Collaborative culture: Many tech companies promote a culture of collaboration, encouraging employees to work together and share ideas. Corporate real estate companies are fostering a more collaborative culture by implementing digital tools and platforms that facilitate communication, information-sharing, and project management. 


+ Employee experience: Tech companies tend to offer lavish employee benefits, perks, and an overall experience to attract and retain top talent. Real estate companies are also investing heavily in employee experience through initiatives such as company trips, wellness programs, generous benefits, etc. 


+ Customer-centric: Tech companies are obsessed with customer experience. Real estate companies are working to better understand customer needs and build more customer-centric organizations. 


The buildings we occupy have an enormous impact, and eco-friendly, people-centric real estate can significantly cut carbon emissions, support health and wellness, and build community.

The real estate sector's spin on tech-inspired practices may be just what's needed to rise to today's sustainability challenges whilst engaging the next generation of business leaders and occupiers.  

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