Advisory & Transaction Services, EMEA
In this issue, we explore a brand that is relevant yet timeless, global yet local and challenges conventions while cultivating a strong culture across more than 400 offices. And the key to it all? Collaboration.
Patterns of business
The businesses that change the way people experience life truly understand their business and the wants, needs and the patterns of their customers. In the WeThree Patterns of Business Newsletter, we showcase the visionaries and collaborators who, by seeing brand and business as one, are able to unlock and drive business success. We analyse the formation of these business patterns, we explore the strategies behind them and we reveal the key brand drivers around their creative success.
No-one knows the patterns that underpin the way people interact with spaces like CBRE. With roots that go back more than two centuries to the Ellis family’s property appraisal business in 1773, the company is one of the largest real estate companies in the world. Employing 90,000 employees across 400 offices in America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific, the company secured $21.3 billion dollars of revenue in 2018, – making it a true powerhouse in property.
But this is much more than just a real-estate business. CBRE is a brand – a brand positioned around the significance of places to people, businesses and nations. CBRE is one of the only businesses in the world that provide a truly one-stop solution. From helping corporations like Citigroup, AliBaba and Young & Rubicam scout for new headquarters, repairing and maintaining cultural landmarks like the Tower of London, and providing expert advice for daring builds like China’s tallest building – Shanghai Tower, CBRE is a diversified brand that simply stands for the business of place.
But with size always comes the peril of losing touch with the very community that property businesses aim to serve. How does CBRE stay relevant?
WeThree spoke to Neil Kirkham, a Director in Advisory & Transaction services at CBRE to uncover the strategy behind the growth of a brand that has truly changed the way people think, feel and experience, life. The answer was crystal clear – collaboration. No matter how large CBRE’s network becomes, its offices and the collaborations between them are orchestrated symphonies of collaboration.
The CBRE of today is built out of a series of organic expansions and acquisitions of businesses with unique capabilities and reach in select geographic regions. Real-estate investment firms, property development companies, facilities management service providers, all live within CBRE group. But they do more than live in it, they fold into its fabric – a fabric woven by its ‘RISE’ Values – Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence. This one, brand-driven culture enables an integrated solution that not only allows for size, but ultimately, enables adaptability – a necessary attribute in an industry undergoing constant change.
A diversified brand like CBRE must keep abreast of changes like shifting attitudes towards work and how it’s undertaken, the transformation of office spaces, and how shared urban spaces help define the city – alternating between big picture thinking and tracking minute shifts. This strategy of breadth of capability underpinned by strong collaboration is what makes CBRE what it is.
And so what does ‘collaboration’ feel like and what brand experiences does CBRE help deliver? In speaking to Neil Kirkham, it is clear that CBRE’s culture enables it to challenge industry conventions and its own practices in a way that doesn’t cause organisational rift, but strengthens alignment instead.
Today it is clear that people no longer work in offices. They work in a blurred zone between work, play and life. This is reflected in CBRE’s changing approach to handling commercial property. Arrival spaces are not grand testaments to the power of a corporation, but shared spaces that allow replenishment, relaxation and conversation. Rising awareness of the positive effects of exercise on overall wellbeing and productivity is also creating a focus on end of trip facilities and spaces for cardio, weight training and yoga.
Most importantly, CBRE is constantly evolving its commercial leasing offerings to accommodate new styles of working – ‘the changing face of office occupiers’. Through its Hana brand, CBRE offers leasing arrangements that vary from medium-term leases to hourly slots and range from semi-permanent spaces for medium-size companies to transitory spaces for start-ups. And this is all being delivered with an aesthetic that reflects this new world of work – open spaces that evoke materials found in the natural environment and nooks that encourage serendipitous conversation. This willingness to see the patterns of business, explore them and recreate businesses, products and services is something that can’t be done without collaboration.