One of our macro themes was the return to the office in 2021. We wanted to improve industry understanding and engagement with the issues that this theme presented and determined that a collaborative approach would be most effective. We contributed to a research study with the corporate real estate department of Henley Business School at Reading University on the Covid-19 crisis and the office sector. This involved two interviews over different time periods with our Corporate Real Estate Director to assess and understand the impact of the pandemic on our leasing strategy, employee productivity and future workplace strategy. We talked about our new corporate hybrid working model and recent workplace refurbishment strategy. The output was two reports on the subject published by the business school, which included views and inputs from ourselves as well as several other major corporate occupiers from a wide cross-section of business sectors. Our engagement with them is ongoing with a third report due. This report is publicly available and is contributing to the emerging body of work around the return to the office and the implications for the real estate sector.
Key to our understanding and response to macro themes, is our engagement with the wider property and asset management industries through our participation and involvement in major events such as conferences, seminars, webinars and research studies. Our Head of Property Research has also added to the body of written research in this area, authoring an article published in the Local Authority Pension Fund magazine on hybrid working. We also spoke at eight external conferences and webinars, including two Local Authority pension fund conferences and six external events. The external events included our Head of Property Research speaking twice as a panellist at the UK Sustainable Investment & Finance Association’s Autumn Conference and on the ‘Mind of Today’s Office Tenant: ESG’ panel of the Bisnow End of Year Office’ event. While not directly about hybrid working, this was a common theme that we provided our views upon. We hope that by contributing industry thought leadership we can both inform ourselves, but also others in respect of an issue that may have lasting impacts on the property industry, its long term returns and our clients.