Three key enablers towards workplace transformation

Workplaces are one of the most impactful areas that can help corporates achieve ESG targets, CBRE said.

Hong Kong has maintained its office-based work culture, which prompted companies to adopt a greener approach to their business locations, according to real estate services and investment firm CBRE’s recent report titled “ESG Beyond E: Strengthening Social and Governance Standards in Hong Kong's Workplace.”

In its report, CBRE has identified three priorities that will underpin future workplace design and strategies in Hong Kong, namely: achieving net-zero emissions goals, accommodating flexible working, and addressing employee and health wellness.

The transformation stage of future workplace strategies in Hong Kong will require three key enablers, which CBRE calls the 3Ls. These are landlord-tenant collaboration, leadership endorsement, and leading-edge proptech.

First L

According to CBRE, leasing space in green-certified commercial buildings with existing eco-friendly features installed is the most expeditious way for a company to meet its ESG goals.

The landlord-tenant collaboration should also involve data sharing and enhanced transparency, CBRE said. 

“Forming a strong landlord-occupier partnership can help both parties set ESG goals and work together to monitor and improve carbon footprint within their building and workplace.” 

There is also a strong ESG adoption by portfolio landlords in Hong Kong. This is evidenced by the June data that 75 out of 80 green-certified Grade A office buildings are single-owned in Hong Kong. The 34 million sq. ft. involved represents 40% of total stock. 

The largest volume of green space is in the CBD, with 65% or 9.3 million sq. ft. (net floor area) of Grade A office space in Central possessing green accreditation, followed by Hong Kong East with 7.4 million sq. ft, CBRE reported.

CBRE also advised companies to lease offices in buildings near MTR stations to reduce carbon footprint.

Also read: APAC firms lagging in adoption of crucial ESG measures: report

Second L

CBRE recommended that companies get recognised by credible certification bodies. 

Leadership endorsements from Hong Kong Green Building Council's Building Environmental Assessment Method Plus, US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and International WELL Building Institute's WELL Building Standard can create a favourable impression amongst clients, investors, and talent.

Falling behind in incorporating ESG can pose significant risks to companies' long-term competitiveness, as stakeholders increasingly value sustainability initiatives, CBRE warned.

Third L

ESG-friendly workplaces usually have leading-edge proptech such as automation and motion detection systems to minimise the use of natural resources, devices to monitor and improve ventilation and air quality, and platforms to facilitate remote working and virtual communications.

CBRE also highlighted Internet of Things technology that reads, shares, and integrates data across different platforms. "Data collected from devices and sensors, workplace administration, and human resources can be consolidated for matrix analysis and adjuted to help track and achieve ESG goals."

“Implementing an ESG-friendly workplace requires a holistic framework that integrates hardware, software and corporate leadership and policies, potentially involving a shift in corporate culture. Change management is therefore vital for workplace transformation,” said Manyi Choi, Director, Head of Change Management, at CBRE Hong Kong.

According to CBRE, companies that lead in ESG practices have better financial performance, higher employee satisfaction, and a wider range of investors seeking sustainable investment opportunities.


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