Property Directors must develop their skills to keep pace with emerging technologies

CREs to become more strategic, people-focused and analytic to maintain salary levels

Corporate Real Estate Executives will need to develop their skills to become more strategic and people-focused in the face of emerging technologies, according to a survey carried out at the Property Directors Forum, hosted by Avison Young. The ability to effectively analyse data will also be a key skill set in the next five years.

The survey asked what skills and experience will be essential in the face of technological advancements:

  • 84% think that CRE roles will be more strategic
  • 77% see an increasing focus on people and productivity
  • 67% of property directors see employee engagement as a key function for CREs.

When it comes to using “Big Data”, 77% of property directors thought the ability to analyse data will be a key skill set for new recruits and that being able to use data intelligently will protect CRE salaries.

Jason Sibthorpe, Avison Young’s Principal and UK Managing Director, comments: “In order to maintain salary levels, CREs will need to become more strategic and data skills may top the list of future requirements for new hires. Property skills will still remain important, with 70% of those surveyed agreeing that property skills will still be key when recruiting in five years’ time.”

“Doing more with less is a recurring theme of the Property Directors Forum, making people more productive is the new frontier. It’s clear that there will be some very interesting, challenging and engaging jobs available to CREs in the future.”

After attending the Property Directors Forum at The Royal Society of Chemistry in June, attendees were asked to provide their thoughts on the impact of emerging technologies on the property profession. The survey delved into the specifics, asking if the increasing use of technology should drive down service charges. 1 in 3 property directors surveyed agreed that service charges will fall as more technology is deployed.

Jason adds: “Interestingly, maximising new technology is seen as a shared responsibility, with 53% of respondents placing investment in emerging technology in the hand of the landlord. 49% said it is down to the occupiers. And across the board the majority of our delegates think the UK is leading the way in the world of emerging technology (with 60% agreeing the UK is in the top quartile internationally for using technology), though there is certainly room for improvement.”

The Property Directors Forum has over 150 active members of its LinkedIn group and over 275 individuals have attended the events. The Forum members collectively manage over 100,000 properties, employing more than 2 million people across the UK.

The next Property Directors Forum will be held at The Royal Society of Chemistry, Piccadilly, London on 15th November 2018.

See the survey results infographic here.

Tenants – don’t lose your rights – seek professional advice before it’s too late

A guest blog by Louise McElarney, Director, Lease Advisory, Avison Young...

It’s so simple. As a tenant you have rights. Know these rights and exercise them or it could cost you dearly.

At Avison Young we advise on both sides of the coin – for landlords and for tenants - and will always seek the best deal possible for our client in each case.

The Lease Advisory team at Avison Young, which operates nationally, recently acted for a landlord client on a lease renewal in the Midlands. As the tenant failed to serve a formal notice - in order to protect their right to a new lease when the original lease expired - the landlord was able to secure a new tenancy agreement which will pocket them an extra £250,000 over the length of the lease. Of course, this means the tenant in question is now out of pocket to that tune.

The tenant lost its negotiating position through not exercising its right to a new lease. If they no longer wanted to occupy the premises that would have been absolutely fine. However, they were ‘over a barrel’ so to speak. It was crucial for them to stay put. A furnishing company using a large warehouse, they did not want to leave. Therefore, when the landlord raised the rent, they had no choice but to accept the terms. If they had planned early, exercised their right to a new lease, seeking professional advice, they could have negotiated a better deal.

Office/property costs are still the largest outlay for businesses after staff costs. Taking on or dismissing a staff member is a decision not taken lightly and this should always be the case for your property requirements. It is advisable to diarise important dates in a lease contract and seek guidance early from a professional to advise on the rights of both the landlord and tenant to avoid sticky situations, ultimately, improve your business’ bottom line.

Social Media: When to say goodbye to the rules!

Social media was not built to be rigid, and whilst it’s important to ensure that the integrity of your business is upheld, it’s also important to ensure that your brand feels relatable and engaging.


Putting too many rules in place can hinder the creative process, and that’s what social media is – a platform for creativity to grow.


It helps to have a plan, don’t jump blindly into social media – treat each channel as just that, a separate channel, and be consistent in your presence.



Allow more than one member of the team access to your social channels, for many reasons. Two (or more) minds can often be better than one, offering a varied perspective and approach to content. Also, in many companies it’s often the case that there is one social media gatekeeper, which means that if for whatever reason they happen to be out of office or move on, the consistency of the efforts take a hit.


Whilst it is important to ensure that tone of voice is protected on your channels and that accountability sits with the few rather than the many, we’d recommend hosting a monthly content meeting with a few team members to inspire new ideas and ensure that support is readily available should it be needed.


Create a centralised password tracker and ensure the relevant teams know where to access it, and also – regularly update your passwords, not just when someone leaves the team.


Building personality

Each channel will inspire a slightly different purpose and audience. Whilst Facebook is becoming a platform that appears in favour of businesses, Instagram for instance still requires a much more personal and approachable communications strategy.


Images, over videos and text, still reign when it comes to encouraging interaction and growth – and as a result, you’ll need a lot more of them! Showcase your teams and the fun things you’re up to, whether that be grabbing a cup of coffee in the new restaurant on your street, or being snowed in on the weekend!


Crowd sourcing content

Crowd sourcing content is a great way to build your social presence, and it requires being flexible about the type of content you’d like to share.  It also requires you to drop the rules of having your logo on every image you post – as an example.


Why not share content you already know works? Always credit the owner of the image or article, ensure it is relevant in some way to your brand (in ethos, industry or interest) and watch your interactions grow.


Growing a following

Building a relevant follower base can be tricky business, and will require you to say good-bye to some of your rules.  Are you picky about the number of people your account follows? In order to be noticed and at a rapid pace, you’ll need to interact and follow.


Identify your target follower by checking out the competition, and start by following the accounts following them. Look at their bio descriptions for key words relevant to your business and industry, and look for follower signals. How many accounts do they follow versus those that follow them?


Yes, this takes time – but is proven to be extremely effective.


It’s also worth mentioning that depending on your product, your audience can reach further afield than the industry you are in. Think about the power of word-of-mouth and social impressions – you never know how far your message can reach, even if the first person receiving it is not your target audience.


Let’s not forget that the best way to build interactions is to start a conversation. Join relevant trending conversations, thank people for following you and interact where you can.



It is a great idea to identify keywords and hashtags which relate directly to your product and industry, however don’t forget to do your research on the top performing hashtags on your chosen channels. Think about how you can interact and tap into the audiences that subscribe to hashtags like #mondaymotivation for example. Remember we’re personality building, so even if you are selling car parts or roofing tiles, these hashtags still appeal to and reflect your teams – and this will serve you well!


Scheduling content

Scheduling social media content is often the most efficient way of managing a variety of channels and ensuring consistency, however, don’t give up on real time posting.


Responding to trends on social media can have a huge impact on your reach and interactions, which ultimately contributes to growth. If you’ve scheduled content, get into the habit of still checking in on your accounts everyday and responding to relevant activity and discussions.





Logicor's Tori Watling raises £5,700 in LandAid SleepOut

Logicor’s very own Tori Watling, among many other brave souls, participated in the first ever SleepOut for LandAid House this month.


The SleepOut saw 187 property professionals spend a night sleeping in Spitalfields Market in support of LandAid’s capital appeal to raise £1.5m for the rebuilding of the City YMCA London hostel in Islington. Opening in 2019, the new accommodation will provide 146 young people with a safe, secure and affordable place to live.


The timing of the SleepOut coincided with unimaginably cold conditions, with temperatures dropping to -5 degrees on the 1st March as a result of  ‘the beast from the east’. If there is ever a time to understand how the homeless feel, that night might have come close.


On the experience, Tori explains: “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t dreading the thought of sleeping out in the days leading up and when I arrived at the event itself I could tell I was not the only one.


“This being said, the LandAid staff and their volunteers were all very positive on the evening and the set-up had been completed extremely well with a very humble layout of some board games in a lit-up area along with a basic soup kitchen providing hot drinks and some food that had been donated by Pret. Moods were lifted very quickly upon arrival.”


Those sleeping out were joined in the evening by young people who have experienced first-hand the support of City YMCA London, and what it feels like to be homeless in London. They shared their stories, from the very tough times to the positive changes they’ve experienced as a direct result of the help the YMCA has provided.


 “When it came to beds down and lights off, it was very hard to get to sleep,” Tori continues.  “I live on a busy road so I was expecting to find it easier than most but hearing the sirens from police cars and general street noise so close was quite unnerving and I just couldn’t get in a comfortable position to nod off.


“I finally got to sleep and woke up very bleary eyed around 6am feeling disorientated and could feel the cold throughout my legs. However, as LandAid’s Paul Morrish reminded us on the night, what we did was not really rough sleeping, so it was great to hear from the residents of City YMCA London to appreciate exactly how the funds raised would be used and to know that it really is going to make a difference. The stories they told were enlightening and left me with a renewed appreciation of the things many of us take for granted.”


Tori’s efforts have already raised an incredible £5,700, including matched funding by Logicor, and there’s still time to donate!


So far, the combined efforts of all those involved in this year’s SleepOut have raised over £150,000 and this figure is growing daily. A big thanks to everyone who has donated so far.

GDPR – Are you ready?

With the GDPR deadline looming - full compliance is required by 25th May 2018 - there are many things to consider when dealing with customer data.

We recently attended the GDPR Summit, and a number of key words jumped out at us throughout the day.

GDPR - key words.jpg

The GDPR came from an EU Human Rights Act, so it is no surprise that at the heart of this regulation is people. GDPR is more than a legislation, it’s a push towards a change in behaviour and the way in which we build our relationships with our customers.

There is no ‘one-size fits all’ solution to GDPR, which is understandably tricky and can feel quite daunting. The best place to start is to think about the real purpose of holding customer data, what you are trying to communicate and whether it benefits the data subject.

Some of our favourite soundbites from the summit:

GDPR - quotes.jpg

We could bore you with the list of ways in which you can base the legal validity of your data, but we won’t as you’ll already have looked at this within your teams. If you need more support in deciding which legal basis fits with your company, and please bare in mind that each campaign and service may require a different legal basis, the Data Protection Network is a great tool for information and guidance.

The biggest take-away from the day was that whilst consent is a tricky business for those with thousands or millions of data subjects, it may be the best long-term solution to GDPR and regulations set to follow over the next year (2018 Data Protection Act and ePrivacy Regulation due in 2018/19)

Start from data you’ve acquired most recently and work backwards, regain consent if you haven’t already, and be transparent about why you will be using the customer’s information. Be honest with yourselves here too – how much do you really need?

Studies have shown that having a smaller data capture can actually provide the best return and response rate, as you’ll have a better understanding of the customer and therefore far greater targeting.

When working on a new campaign or project, think about the data subject first, put your customer at the heart of what you are doing. Always weigh in the favour of the data subject and you can’t get it wrong.


So, with that said, we’d like to regain your consent to continue to send you updates on what we’re doing and relevant industry news. In compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) if you would like to continue receiving our newsletters please opt in via the below button. We respect your privacy and will not share your details. 


You can unsubscribe to our emails at any time by simply replying to any of our email with 'unsubscribe'. Of course, we would love you to stay, so do feel free to get in touch with feedback and recommendations for how we can ensure our newsletters are relevant to your needs and interests. 

Thanks in advance for your continued support.

See you at MIPIM!

Attending MIPIM in Cannes this March? Let's catch up.

We'll be at MIPIM this year, from Tuesday 13th March to Thursday 15th March.

We'd love to catch up to discuss your PR and communication needs. 

Get in touch today

T: +44 (0)20 8899 6334

Looking forward to seeing you there!


*ideas and exposure

Flashbulb is a specialist property communications consultancy that helps clients successfully manage their brand reputation in order to achieve their commercial objectives. 

Some of our services include:

  • Corporate communications and marketing strategy 
  • Property development communications
  • Sales and lettings PR
  • Crisis communications
  • Content and copywriting
  • Social media management
  • Website content management
  • Start-up business consultancy

All of our services are tailored to the client and are not restricted to the above. For more information please do get in touch. 

The impact of EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)


The RSA’s latest white paper outlines the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its impact on our cybersecurity strategies. By 25th May 2018 our data privacy regulations will see the biggest change in 20 years as the GDPR has replaced the Data Protection Directive (1995), designed to streamline data privacy laws across Europe and protect the rights of individuals regarding their personal data. The application of the regulation exceeds EU boundaries, applying to any business anywhere in the world handling data from an EU citizen.

The GDPR defines personal data as “any information related to a natural person on ‘Data Subject’, that can be used to directly or indirectly identify the person. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer IP address.”

As the white paper outlines, EU citizens are entitled to the following rights under GDPR:

-          The right to be informed

-          The right of access

-          The right to rectification

-          The right to erasure – also known as the right to be forgotten

-          The right to restrict processing

-          The right to data portability

-          The right to object

Businesses will face hefty fines if not in full compliance with the terms of GDPR by 25th May 2018, starting from 2% of annual global revenue. There were several inconsistencies in how businesses could apply data protection policies, so the introduction of the GDPR will make the laws clearer and easier to adhere to. As the white paper explains, non-compliance will ‘propel data protection as a business risk directly into the boardroom’.

Understanding the risk associated to GDPR and cybersecurity is the first step in avoiding it. Businesses need to understand exactly where and who they are getting their data from and must show accurate records of this. Getting on top of data documentation is essential, and as the white paper advises, encouraging an understanding of technical risk to all business leaders will ensure all decision making considers this legislation. Compliance has to be independently verified, so it is important that a data management process is developed in house to avoid additional auditing costs.

The RSA advise the implementation of a Business-Driven Security Strategy to GDPR to avoid any compliance issues and to promote better risk management practices. The strategy would cover the assessment of IT infrastructure, business processes, technical and organisational measures and electronic and physical security.

Read the full paper here.

EG Event Round-Up 'Question Time London'


5 December 2017 at White Collar Factory

Last week’s EG event ‘Question Time London’ saw a great reception, and an insightful discussion amongst both the panel and the audience. Chaired by Damien Wild, Editor at EG, the panel consisted of Bill Hughes, Head of Real Assets at Legal & General Investment Management, Max Farrell, Partner at Farrells Architects, Emma Cariaga, Head of Operations at British Land and Benjamin Lesser, Development Manager at White Collar Factory.

Damien Wild opened the discussion by addressing the fact that the property industry is seeking stability, and unfortunately many have felt that in the past year politician have done very little to restore faith in them and their support of the industry. Max Farrell supported this statement when discussing general views and opinions of Sadiq Khan and his efforts, arguing that what the industry needs is more leadership and as a result, Khan should ‘champion big projects’ and participate on panels. Bill Hughes continued the debate by addressing his ‘aggressive approach to affordable housing’ and the questioned the practicality of creating targets before considering what the city actually needs.

The New London Plan was discussed at length as an audience member asked if will help the industry and answer London’s housing needs.  Emma Cariaga was the first to speak on this and suggested that the plan is essentially flawed and does not address the issue of affordable housing in a practical way. She argued that the plan was ‘focused on ambition, not practical solutions’. Public sector agencies should be granted the resources to deal with this, rather than focusing on selling land to the biggest bidder. On the commitment to build 300k houses per year as outlined in the plan, Cariaga highlighted that such a target has not been achieved for decades and when it was achieved, it was led by local authorities.

In addition to the suggestion that the public sector should lead the initiative, Farrell drew attention to a need to adopt modern methods of construction in order to achieve or come close to achieving such targets. Modern methods of construction prove to be cost effective, better quality and ensure a quicker build. Farrell argues that we can still put a warranty on homes built via modern methods as the quality can be better that those built via traditional methods. In the UK less than 5% of homes are built using modern methods, compared to Japan at around 30-40%. We need to look to how other countries deal with housing demands, like the success seen where minimum space standards don’t exist for example.

Benjamin Lesser was more optimistic about the New London Plan and suggested it was a positive step in refining the previous plan. He argued that the 1847 Town & Country Act is in need of revision and it does not reflect how we are living now.

The debate continued to discuss whether we should stretch the GLA region, in which there was a resounding response led by Lesser that there needs to be a strategic review of boundaries as we now consider speed of travel rather than distance, which widens the existing boundaries. Cariaga agreed that a wider region will be part of the housing solution moving forward as ‘transport improvements have made London feel very small’.

The big buyers of 2018 were identified as China, Hong Kong and the rest of Europe, with the common understanding that London is a safe place to invest. Hughes suggested that investors may start looking outside of London based on affordability.

As a roundup to close the debate, Wild asked each of the panellists to make a prediction for the industry in 2018. Hughes predicted that the market will see fragility around the occupier and a bigger difference between winners and losers, Farrell more optimistically suggested we’ll see a radical mix use of spaces and more connectivity along the river, Lesser urged for a need for a more ‘acute focus on what we are doing as builders of space’ to get it right for long-term value, and Cariaga predicted that London will have a well-deserved seat at the table during Brexit debates.

Five takeaways from the Estates Gazette Marketing Summit


I was lucky enough to have attended the inaugural "Estates Gazette Marketing Summit" in London, just off Victoria Street. It was a packed day with some excellent speakers and excellent content. There was far too much to report in full, but here are my top five points/comments/thoughts from the day:

1.The most excellent Kim Tasso (@RedStarKim) suggested: "If you can' win the news race, provide the back-story."

If David Meerman Scott had been at the summit he would probably have talked about the back-story as a chance for "Newsjacking", and he would have underlined the importance of the speed of response to a news story.

It has to be Real Time people.

2. Sean Curtis of Land Securities (@seanc_marketing) asked: "Do shoppers want to be Friends with a shopping centre?"

The incredible number of Facebook 'Likes' accumulated following the launch of the Trinity Shopping Centre in Leeds (currently over 115,000) tells us that the unequivocal answer is "Yes they do."

3.Tim Watson of DixonBaxi informed the Marketing Summit that: "NOTHING is more important than customer insight."

It all boils down to what drives your customer/new business prospects. What are their needs, desires, motivations?

Having this insight will give you a clear idea of the type of content that you should be providing and what will stimulate your customers to interact with you.

Ultimately this will drive revenue.

4.John Williams (@JWKnightFrank): "There is a blurring of the lines between personal and professional lives and stating on a Social Media profile that 'The views expressed here are my own' is meaningless."

As John stated, the prevailing cult of personality means that customers and clients will look at what you say as a representative of your business and its brand - regardless of if you said it at work, at home or down the pub.

5. Caroline Mills CBRE (@ccsaurus) suggested that we should: "Forget B2C and B2B, it's all about B2P communication." Marketing and communications should be personal.

Bonus take away:

According to Caroline "FOMO" (Fear Of Missing Out) is a big motivator in B2C marketing.

And if your weren't at the Marketing Summit, I'm afraid you missed out.

Flexible working or a flexible workplace?


Every employee in the UK, provided they have been in the same job for six months, can now make a request to their employer to be allowed to work "flexibly". Employers have the legal obligation to supply an answer and to "provide a valid reason if they cannot say yes".

According to BBC News "flexible working" can mean: Part-time working, flexi-time, job-sharing, working from home or remotely, compressed hours, term-time working or agreeing annual hours.

There are, according to ACAS, a number of legitimate reasons for refusing that include:
• Burden of additional costs
• Inability to reorganise work among existing staff
• Inability to recruit additional staff
• Detrimental impact on quality
• Detrimental impact on performance
• Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
• Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
• Planned structural change to the business

Many businesses already allow staff to have such flexibility and commentators have suggested that the new legislation will have little impact. It does however bring the question of home working and flexible working practices into sharp focus. Will the result be an increase in people looking to work from home? What impact will this have on the demand for office space? Will even more home based workers mean an increase in vacant office buildings?

I'm not sure that it will.

The fact is that home working is not always easy. Not everyone has the facilities to work from home and there is more to going to work than just sitting at a desk (well - there should be!). There are those "water cooler" moments, conversations and opportunities to feed off the ideas and experience of others.

Teleconferencing is fine for those in different cities and countries, but conference calls are not great substitutes for face-to-face meetings with colleagues.

And what of those who have little experience of the workplace? What if they have a minimal level of "the culture of work"? Working from home may suit someone with a career spanning decades as they know what is needed, but would it suit a school leaver? Giving a fresh-faced teenager a laptop, a broadband connection, a smart phone and the green light to work from home could be seen by some as a recipe for disaster!

On the assumption that more people will take up the chance to "work flexibly" maybe will we see more "flexibility" built into the workplace? Will we see an increase in hot-desking and collaboration space and, if so, what does this mean for the office market?
Perhaps it is timely that JLL has recently published its report "Forget the Workplace... for Now", that suggests at "a new approach that contradicts the one-size-fits-all thinking behind then current conversations about flexible, mobile or collaborative working."

The study looks at balancing traditional office functions with "collaborative work", and suggests that "Getting this delicate balance wrong can significantly inhibit your ability to develop new products and services and deliver them to your clients."

This move towards collaborative working practices could see the growth in office accommodation that more and more resembles an airline business lounge - somewhere for colleagues and teams to come together for relatively short periods before dispersing to their chosen place of work? Maybe more and more office buildings will begin to resemble hotels, coffee shops?

Or even shopping centres?

Completion of Skanska's Monument Building changes EC3 skyline


Skanska has completed the development of The Monument Building in the City of London and has brought about a transformation of this historic part of the capital.

Demolition of the site began in 2013 and the new building with its distinctive exterior, designed by Ken Shuttleworth's MAKE architects, has produced 94,000sqft (8,733sqm) of Grade A office space on nine floors and 3,892 sq ft of valuable retail space on the ground floor.

The Monument Building is Skanska's first London development under its Workplaces by Skanska brand.

At the time of completion three of the nine floors of office space had been let, along with one of the two retail units. 

More information is available at