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How will head offices and their power of centralisation be perceived after the health crisis?

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As Head of Occupier Solutions at BNP Paribas Real Estate UK, Tom Bolland gives us an idea of what we can expect from the head office as a result of the impact from Covid-19.

Tom Bolland

For me, the head office will become more important than ever because it is essential in shaping an organisation’s cultural environment and sense of belonging

Tom Bolland
Head of Occupier Solutions
London

What are the sociological consequences of the crisis? 

The crisis has suddenly forced a global workforce into remote working – and not everyone was ready with the right working environment at home. It’s been culturally challenging because the office for many organisations was ingrained as the best way to collaborate and achieve the best results, professionally and personally.  

For me, the head office will become more important than ever because it is essential in shaping an organisation’s cultural environment and sense of belonging. You cannot substitute the informal exchanges you encounter from working in a collaborative office environment with video conferencing, and I believe lockdown has been a wake-up call for many businesses to make their offices even more productive and collaborative. 


How can we rethink the organisational structure of the company while maintaining wellbeing, confidence and productivity at work? 

As organisations redefine the way they operate for a post-Covid world, the goal is to create a way of working that gives options that enable each individual to work as productively as possible, so collectively the organisation can be more productive. For certain situations, such as bid preparation, not being in the same room makes work much harder – leading to frustration and inefficiency.


How do your service offers or products respond to these new challenges? 

Our focus is to make sure our clients’ real estate strategy is aligned with their business strategy. How the real estate portfolio supports the business to work operationally to its optimum, as well as support the balance sheet.  I believe we’re well-positioned to help clients understand the organisational structure that suits them, to optimise their space to promote collaboration, as well as overlay a portfolio strategy to deliver maximum value to the business. 

Do you have an example of a customer you are supporting on these issues?

Most are reviewing their portfolios to see where any gains can be made, whether reviewing service charges, business rates, lease events or engaging proactively with all landlords for rent free or deferment in 2020.  We are also supporting clients as they change their payment structures from quarterly to monthly to help with cashflow. As well as undertaking wider strategic reviews for return to work and HQ strategies, including headcount changes, transportation strategy and figuring out how their staff can get back to the workplace.