Commercial real estate leaders are at a critical juncture when it comes to thinking strategically about the future of work, according to JLL’s most recent Future of Work Survey. The survey included nearly 100 responses from healthcare and life sciences industries benchmarked against more than 1,000 global peers and found that, as all businesses continue to evolve their workplaces to best meet the needs of their employees, the life sciences industry is also evolving.
“There is a seismic transformation occurring with the way we think about work,” said Roger Humphrey, President, JLL Life Sciences. “The life sciences industry is not immune to this transformation and will need to make substantial investments in the next three years to capitalize on the future of work.”
JLL’s research shows, that, over the next several years, companies anticipate hybrid work to become the dominant model and will be looking across their real estate portfolios to re-think their workplace models, invest in new technology and prioritize sustainability.
“Life sciences organizations’ real estate needs are more complex than traditional office real estate,” said Travis McCready, Head of Life Sciences, Industries Americas, JLL. “This industry requires a uniquely skilled workforce, but this workforce also shares many expectations that most other employees in all industries have, and life sciences leaders need to bring action plans to life in order to meet these expectations.”
The role of real estate is changing, and this latest research identifies six critical areas that life sciences organizations will need to consider shaping a sustainable, resilient and inclusive future of work.
1. Life sciences decision-makers will drive action against multiple CRE priorities over the next three years.
Life sciences decision makers say they are focused on improving workforce resilience, operationalizing hybrid work models and improving operational efficiency. Three-quarters of large life sciences organizations identified prioritizing improving workforce resilience as a lead strategic objective, while 68% of smaller organizations (less than 5,000 employees) are focused on improving operational efficiency and portfolio resilience.
Overall, the top four strategic objectives over the next three years for large and small life sciences organizations include improving workforce resilience, operationalizing hybrid work models, improving operational efficiency and addressing environmental impact.
2. Hybrid will have lasting impact for the life sciences sector.
As hybrid working patterns become the norm, life sciences occupiers are looking to increase their flexible space. Nearly a quarter of all life sciences decision-makers agree that offering remote and/or hybrid working options will be critical to attract and retain talent. However, just 41% of life sciences organizations will make remote working permanently available to all employees by 2025 compared with 53% of overall global respondents.
Embracing dynamic and flexible working patterns will be key in the coming years and by 2025, 30% of life sciences organizations plan to take an “employee-choice” approach to hybrid working — compared to just 7% pre-pandemic. “While 30% may seem low, given the nature of life sciences work, it is actually a strong indicator of the industry embracing flexibility,” said Amber Schiada, Head of Research, Americas, JLL Work Dynamics. “This is due, in large part, because life sciences work needs to get done in-person in labs and manufacturing sites.”
3. Life sciences prioritize investment in high quality space.
All CRE leaders are rethinking the purpose of their workspaces, prioritizing collaborative spaces and employee wellbeing. Of life sciences respondents, 78% agree that investing in quality is a greater priority than expanding total footprint.
Almost three quarters (70%) agree that, in the long-term, the office will remain central to their organization’s ecosystem with many already taking steps to reimagine these spaces. More than half (60%) of life sciences respondents have or are planning to make all office spaces open and collaborative, with no dedicated desk space. These quality spaces are key to ensuring peak office experiences for employees.
4. Rising employee expectations lead to an acceleration of investment into ESG.
Enhancing both environmental and social outcomes are now mainstream concerns for most life sciences occupiers with the number of those paying a premium to occupy green spaces likely to increase rapidly in the next three years. Respondents are taking action to address ESG expectations with 72% saying their employees will increasingly expect the workplace to have a positive impact on the environment.
Prioritized investment in higher quality facilities to meet advanced ESG targets is key to minimizing the impact on the planet, guaranteeing returns on sustainability and maximizing experiential environments for employees.
Life Sciences: Achieving Environmental Sustainability — our latest research in the Life Sciences Sustainability Series — explores solutions to some of the challenges around high resource use in the life science industry. Outlining ways in which life sciences occupiers, developers and landowners can begin to mitigate the climate impact of their assets by measuring and setting appropriate targets, reducing their operational and embodied carbon and curbing waste and water usage is key to meeting the expectation of employees to have a positive impact on the environment.
5. Diversity, inclusion and employee wellbeing are high on the agenda.
Also driven by employee expectations are diversity, inclusion and wellbeing with half of life sciences organizations accelerating investment into improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Nearly a quarter (71%) of respondents say their employees will increasingly expect their workplace to have a positive impact on society, including increased social value and community engagement.
Life sciences decision makers are more focused on wellbeing than their global peers, 67% of respondents consider improving workforce resilience to be a key strategic objective. Additionally, 53% will increase investment into improving diversity and inclusion, compared to 46% globally.
6. The sector will seek to enhance data and sustainability skills though partnering.
Life sciences organizations tend to be at the same level of maturity with their CRE data journey as the global population of respondents. Between now and 2025, the biggest technology priority for life sciences organizations is the introduction of sustainability technologies, followed by improvements in building connectivity or digital infrastructure.
Life sciences organizations are accelerating outsourcing at a similar rate to global peers, with a particular focus on data analytics, health and wellbeing services and renewable energy. These skills gaps are being filled through more sophisticated outsourcing approaches and partnerships.
Thinking strategically about the path to the future of work.
After a period of rapid change comes an opportunity to pause and think strategically about the future. CRE leaders are now at that critical decision moment that requires connected thinking about work, workforce, workplace and portfolio to understand how real estate can best align with corporate priorities.
Success will require life sciences leaders to make significant investment to drive the transformation including planning for a future where flexible and dynamic working pattens are the norm; unlocking the potential of workspace to enhance employee creativity, productivity and wellbeing; and taking a responsible approach that promotes positive social and environmental outcomes.
JLL Work Dynamics partners with leading organizations across industry sectors, creating environments that achieve a more humancentric, resilient and responsible approach to shaping a better world of work. With more than 45,000 local and global specialists, the team enables clients to enhance the performance of their portfolios and people to realize their ambitions of a more sustainable built environment. Through technology enabled solutions, JLL Work Dynamics creates safe and inspiring spaces around the world for people to collaborate, innovate and drive meaningful change anywhere that work is performed. JLL Work Dynamics manages over 1.6 billion square feet of real estate and has averted more than 112,700 metric tons of CO2e by advising clients on renewable energy projects. For more information visit jll.com/FutureofWork.
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JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $19.4 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 102,000 as of September 30, 2022. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit jll.com.