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Hybrid work: Employees ‘can execute the work from home,’ JLL CEO says

JLL Global President Christian Ulbrich joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss hybrid work, employee priorities, attracting talent, and flexible workspaces.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

BRIAN CHEUNG: New data from commercial real estate company JLL finds that the majority of companies are returning to flexible, collaborative environments. But is that enough to bring remote workers back to the office? To discuss this report further, we're joined by JLL Global president and CEO Christian Ulbrich. Thanks so much for joining us on set here in our offices.

Broadly speaking, what are the trends that you're seeing in terms of the return to office, right? We're over, you know, lapsing three years now almost of this pandemic. Are you seeing a lot of companies-- a majority of them having majority of the workforce back in the office?

CHRISTIAN ULBRICH: Well, it depends very much which city you are in. It's very cultural. But what we can see is that the top of the companies want their people back in the office. And then Generation Z and people with young children, they all want to be back in the office as well. And so it's kind of a force from the top and a force from the younger generation that they want to get back into the office. But they want flexibility.

AKIKO FUJITA: There's two sides of the story we've been following. On the one hand, you've got those office spaces that used to be filled. Those companies have decided not to fill them. You have to think about what alternatives come in.

But then you've also got companies who've said, look, if all our workers are not coming back, maybe we can offer other incentives to bring them in. What are you seeing on that front? Whether it's opening up a daycare center, bringing in more food options. How have things changed up?

CHRISTIAN ULBRICH: Yeah, I mean, what people realized during the pandemic is that they can execute the work from home as well. So just to do your work, that's not a reason to come back into the office. It's about collaboration. It's about innovation. And so you have to create an environment which is more attractive in the office than to work from somewhere else.

And that would include those options that you have, health and well-being features which would include great food, snacks, and those type of things, daycare for your children. It's complicated, obviously. But people are trying and depending in which location they are in. And so we will see all types of features which will just be a pull for people to get into the office.

BRIAN CHEUNG: And that explains the statistics that we were just showing about companies investing in refitting the office space, right? Making some of those changes. But I guess at the same time, do a lot of those investments and strategic changes also involve a downsizing of the space themselves? Or are you seeing companies stick with the amount of space that they're using now and just being more creative in how they're actually deploying and utilizing it?

CHRISTIAN ULBRICH: You actually see both. If you try to do it very simply, the most successful companies are actually using more space because they add on those different types of spaces, these collaborative spaces and all kinds of features, what they are offering. And some are just repurposing existing space. And some companies are actually downsizing.

So far, there is no clear trend that we could say, at the end of the day, we will have 10%, 15% less space being occupied. What we see is that the space is used at a very, very different way. We had before the pandemic a lot of me space. And now, we have a lot of we space because the main priority is to collaborate.

AKIKO FUJITA: So what has that meant globally for JLL? When you compare it to prepandemic levels, do you have a bigger footprint. Are your occupancy rates still much higher than they were? Or much lower than they were prepandemic?

CHRISTIAN ULBRICH: Yeah, occupancy rates are, generally speaking, lower than they were prepandemic because more companies are embracing flexibility. And I think that is the big advantage for people that there is not that feeling, I have to be in the office at 8:00 on a Monday morning and I'm leaving at 5:00 on a Friday afternoon, that they have that flexibility.

But as I said early on, it is very culturally driven. Here in New York, we have a much higher occupancy. In Dallas, we have a very high occupancy. And San Francisco, occupancy is still pretty low.

BRIAN CHEUNG: So different depending on where you're at. And JLL is a lot of places, that's for sure.

CHRISTIAN ULBRICH: That's true.

BRIAN CHEUNG: All right, JLL Global president and CEO Christian Ulbrich. Thanks so much for stopping by in studio. Really--

CHRISTIAN ULBRICH: Thank you.

BRIAN CHEUNG: --appreciate it.