Proper planning has major benefits

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When it comes to resilient businesses in a changing environment, large and small organisations need to plan well in advance, according to Chris Farhi, Director of Strategic Advisory at Colliers.

This has become especially evident in the last few months with the latest Covid-19 outbreak that has seen a number of organisations reflect on how to adapt to their new environment.

Farhi notes that businesses that have moved into new premises or undertaken new office fit-outs, typically as part of relocations, have potentially been one step ahead.

“During the process of defining what type of work environment and workplace strategy fits best for their new workspace, organisations have most likely already faced the question around their approach to flexibility and business continuity if their planning has been executed properly.

“Flexible strategies require fully mobile technology to be successful, so firms need to have invested in upgrading from desktop computers to laptops or tablets, along with supporting infrastructure.

“Whilst the technology spend comes at a cost, mobile technology provides a great platform for working remotely.

“We expect that this will have become particularly relevant with the current Covid-19 pandemic by providing an immediate ability for workers to be up and running from home if they’re unable to get to the office for any reason.”

And, when it comes to operation location, there will likely be a number of additional learnings that have emerged over the last couple of months.

As a result of the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes, many of New Zealand’s corporate real estate teams have been largely focused on earthquake risk and seismic strength assessments, but that will be only one of many considerations going forward suggests Farhi.

“Businesses have taken steps to seek higher resilience buildings in locations that provide better staff safety and reduced risk of business interruption.

“However, we expect more businesses will consider where and how many premises they lease to efficiently and effectively meet the needs of their customers and maintain business continuity.

“By way of example, having a single office can provide operating efficiencies and improved culture cohesion, however multiple offices may improve resilience by providing a more diverse range of operating locations.

“We can also expect that flexible working will feature as part of their wider property strategy due to the benefit of improved ability to disperse their workforce,” says Farhi.

And, when it comes to major office strategy plays, large organisations in particular need to plan well in advance notes Farhi.

“With the current low in office vacancies, major relocations often require new buildings which in turn come with a lead time to procure and construct.

“This could mean prior planning occurring 4-5 years before the physical solution actually goes live,” says Farhi. 

Smaller businesses also stand to benefit from prior planning.

“At the smaller end of the spectrum, changes to fit-out or relocations between existing office buildings take less time but might still take upwards of 6 months to execute.

“Despite growing availability supply is still short. If businesses are considering this solution, prior planning and a well-thought out plan will be needed.”


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Chris Farhi

Director | Strategic Advisory

Auckland CBD

Chris is a Director within the Strategic Advisory team. The team helps you with your big property decisions and complex transactions.

Chris' advisory work focuses on:

  • Decision making processes (eg property strategy, business cases, feasibilities, etc)
  • Tenant representation for large lease transactions (office,  industrial and specialist-use)
  • Multi-site networks (eg consolidation strategies, optimisation, etc)

Chris’ background in brief:

  • Property strategy advisor for some of New Zealand’s most successful private sector, public sector and non-for-profit organisations.
  • Tenant representative (tenant-paid lease negotiator) for organisations ranging from small-to-medium enterprises through to major listed companies and government agencies.
  • Specialist skills in commercial leasing, financial analysis and market research.
  • Part-time lecturer at the University of Auckland Business School and commercial leasing trainer for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Chris’ qualifications include Honours degrees in both Civil Engineering and Property from the University of Auckland, and a Master of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge, UK. He is a Chartered Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Outside of work, Chris is a combat engineer in the NZ Army Reserve and a keen baker.

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