Global Market View

From Sydney to Beijing, LA to Paris, Copenhagen to Warsaw, all across the world– similar trends are apparent. The flexible and co-working movement, trade wars and associated worries, disruptive technologies and more. CEO, Jim Underhill presents the global market view for the first half of 2018.




As I scan the globe and speak with colleagues around the world, I hear a number of common themes time and again as we apply our trade and go about our daily business. Whether it’s a financial firm in Sydney, a major corporate occupier in Manhattan, a tech company in California, media firm in London, mining in Toronto, an industrial conglomerate in Germany, creative design in Paris, auto parts in Poland, a law firm in Beijing, or fund managers in Hong Kong, the same issues seem to come up again and again.

Co-working and the flexible office movement is possibly the most pronounced, but trade wars and the associated worries are quickly catching up. In addition, disruptive technologies, recruitment challenges, the logistics associated with trying to future-proof premises, as well as the growing importance of corporate culture are recurrent themes. For me, the surprising aspect is how similar the conversations are, whether I’m talking to our Asia Pacific offices, European colleagues, or my fellow North Americans, the conversation inevitably turns to just five or six topics. The terms Global Village and Globalization certainly come to mind.

Our clients have questions about the trend towards shared offices, not just for start-ups, but also multinational corporations, and the acceptance (or not) of this new way to house their employees. Disruptive technologies that seem to be impacting every industry and what it means for companies and their space needs. Additionally, businesses have far more concerns about how they can future-proof their premises, and then there’s the challenge companies worldwide are having recruiting skilled workers at wages they can afford. Perhaps most topical, and a worry for almost every business, is the recently announced tariffs by the United States government, and the possible beginning of trade wars that have put every region on edge. It’s too early to say for sure, as it’s business as usual for most, but any prolonged and deepened trade war would have a profound impact on our occupier clients with an almost certain knock-on effect on space markets.

Our Asia Pacific offices remain exceptionally busy, characterized by robust economies and growing sales, but the salient fact is every country in the region is dependent on China in one way or another. As a result, the eventual outcome between the world’s two largest economies (United States & China) is highly consequential. We know it, and our occupier clients know it. In Europe, and the UK in particular, the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, are causing a degree of angst and a possible resulting disruption of supply chains. For the EU, the threat of a trade war is particularly concerning, not least for the auto sector, but all industries and all countries. Here in North America, we are seeing more and more companies express concern how tariffs, and a subsequent increase in costs, may impact their business. Yet for now, most appear to be sticking to their business plans and executing hiring and expansion as anticipated.

So where does this leave? From our vantage point, we thrive when the business environment is as uncertain as it is now. We’ve rarely been able to provide more value to our clients, who beyond anything else, want to hear our thoughts and insights as they struggle with a very uncertain business landscape. Our evergrowing consulting group, in particular, is doing a variety of work for local, regional, national and global companies that they couldn’t even have imagined just a few years ago. For a global real estate service provider representing some of the world’s most admired companies, is in the fortunate position of offering the right product and the right time as the business world gets more and more uncertain. And that’s how I see the world.



Jim Underhill, CEO,