Aix-Marseille, a test region to plan for the future of workplaces

Aix-Marseille, a test region to plan for the future of workplaces
A few weeks after the publication "The Future of Workplaces", an analysis of the future of office real estate, ADI, Euroméditerranée and Provence Promotion discussed the topic on November 9 in Paris.
18 November 2021 / Grow your business

New perspectives with big consequences for companies and their employees

Hyper-connected, user-friendly, packed with new services, close to public transportation... The transition in office real estate that began before the pandemic has accelerated over the past two years. This major upheaval was analyzed and debated on November 9 in Paris by the real estate directors of large French groups.

The evening echoed the book "The Future of Workplaces", a publication of Provence Promotion, the economic development agency for France's second-largest metropolitan area, Euroméditerranée, one of the main national developers and the French Association of Real Estate Directors. Made possible by the participation and contributions from several experts in commercial real estate, including major property users, developers and investors in France, this work was the result of a 24-month project that began in the fall of 2019 before the Covid crisis even began. This original collaboration was supported by the economic journalist Nathalie Bureau du Colombier and without any professional consultants.

At left, view of the Eiffel Tower and the Montparnasse Tower; at right, view of the Sacré-Coeur. Nearly 50 real estate experts from major French groups met to discuss the future of offices at "The Island", the brand-new world headquarters of the Pernod Ricard group, one of the major global brands born in Marseille and a member of Provence Promotion's influence program. "The Island is anything but a desert island. Despite the late hour, many employees are still working, a sign that they are enjoying this new environment. The office promotes interactions and informal communication," stressed Gilles Allard, President of the French Association of Real Estate Directors.

The association anticipated the onset of significant changes and in 2019 decided to explore the topic in consultation with Provence Promotion and Euroméditerranée. And it was ultimately in the midst of a health crisis that an in-depth survey was carried out, leading to the publication of a forward-looking work on the evolution of offices. "In the absence of any real position being taken up by the government or social partners as regards the future of workplaces, we found that the best alliance is one that creates connections between large employers and their surroundings. The subject is fundamental for the country's appeal," noted Bernard Deflesselles, President of Provence Promotion.

Hyper-connected, flexible, agile, mobile...

When the future meets the present, the office of tomorrow is now hyper-connected, flexible, agile and mobile, as well as virtuous and responsible. Behind each adjective lies a totally redesigned work organization like the new Voyage Privé head office. The online tour operator sets the tone at its new 160,000 ft2 campus in the future Constance neighborhood in Aix-en-Provence. "Voyage Privé advances the values of community by welcoming the Provence Rugby professional club, the École des XV, a start-up incubator, to its site and providing educational support. We have a hybrid site where every detail has been thought out for the well-being of employees," observed Nicolas Ponson, co-founder of Redman, a construction project management company that works hand in hand on this program with Tangram Architectes.

… as well as virtuous and responsible

Euroméditerranée is thinking 15 years ahead. The developer is experimenting with the city of the future by taking into account climate change and its regulatory corollary (ZFE, or low-emission zone), office-housing hybridization and mixed uses. "The central focus of the exercise was the flexibility and reversibility of buildings in response to legal, economic and technical issues," explained Stéphane Ghio, Director of Economic Development at Euroméditerranée. In a context where the ambitions of companies and employees are changing, demands are also changing, and sometimes catching economic development agencies by surprise. "We used to deliver tax exemptions, or subsidies. But now, when they set up a new site, companies want to be associated with projects that have an impact on the region they choose. Now we must facilitate this process," added Philippe Stéfanini, Managing Director of Provence Promotion.

In addition to the expected changes, the Covid crisis will undoubtedly leave scars in the building inventory with major restructuring to come. As employees have discovered the virtues of remote work, real estate directors now must reconfigure their square footage.