A word from the experts

Metropolization: medium-sized cities return to the forefront

September 2021

The experts

Frédéric Miquel

Frédéric Miquel

Managing Partner

+33 6 32 90 87 58


Nicolas Cochard

Nicolas Cochard

R&D Manager

+33 6 42 92 53 34


As a corollary of the health crisis, teleworking has encouraged worker mobility and reshuffles the cards for tertiary real estate, with an effect: an increased polarization of medium-sized towns which tends to rebalance the relationship between metropolitan areas and the rest of the territory.

Advertorial in partnership with Business Immo.

The spread of teleworking, a consequence of the pandemic, is reshuffling the mobility cards. With an office now outside the walls for several days a week, the French no longer hesitate to move away from metropolitan areas and settle in medium-sized towns. Residential demand in municipalities located an hour from Paris has exploded over the past 15 months, putting them back at the center of the real estate scene. "France is economically and politically built around a Parisian macro-cephalic centrality, with regional metropolises, which has largely dictated corporate real estate," explains Nicolas Cochard, R&D manager for the Kardham Group. With the health crisis, the geography of work has changed and redefined the relationship between major centralities and peripheries. "As the entire territory becomes the office, one has to question the real need and the functionality of the buildings," he adds. In Île-de-France, in particular, where tertiary real estate represents a significant financial burden, consideration must be given to the use of square meters. "Companies are currently looking for a point of balance between the economic dimension linked to real estate prices, the quality of life of workers in the service sector and the question of the social link that teleworking risks weakening", says Frédéric Miquel, CEO of the Kardham Group. To this triple problem, there is no single answer, but adaptations on a case-by-case basis, depending on each organization.

Evolution towards a pluricentrality

After metropolitanization, the time has come for pluricentrality, where medium-sized towns take on a role of proactive economic actors. The recent place marketing campaigns displayed in Paris metro stations are an illustration of this. The fact remains that in order to offer services comparable to metropolitan areas, the outskirts must be perfectly connected to the barycenters of the regions. "The break-up of workplaces raises the question of the performance of mobility and the quality of interconnections at the territorial level. The stations, in particular, will become strategic crossroads,” notes Nicolas Cochard. Adapting the transport offer serving small towns is a determining factor in the dynamism of these municipalities, which is now in the hands of local decision-makers. In addition, the new nomadism of employees runs the risk of losing the collective project of companies. "In an economy of the circulation of information and collective intelligence, ultra-mobility tends to delay performance. For this reason, we prefer to talk about pluricentrality rather than shifting centrality,” adds Frédéric Miquel, convinced that the majority of large head offices in Ile-de-France will not disappear, but that a new offer will be added to real estate. existing. "A relative rebalancing of the establishment of tertiary square meters will take place," he announces.

Less square meters, but better

Inside the buildings, a new distribution of surfaces is also expected, but perhaps not as radical as that announced. “Offices are not going to turn into Starbucks cafes tomorrow! Of course, there will be areas favoring collaborative work, but the real reflection will mainly focus on the functional and technical quality of the workspaces, which must be superior to that of the home,” says Frédéric Miquel. Investors will prefer the quality and attractiveness of real estate assets to the quantity of square meters in order to attract new talents. “The company remains a political space with a hierarchy and power games where those absent are often wrong. This is one of the values ​​of the company that those under 30 quite understand, moreover, because they are less eager to telecommute than their elders. On the other hand, they are very attentive to the location of their workplace,” observes Nicolas Cochard.

Massive arguments for valuing real estate assets, the right location and the proper use of square meters will be the primary selection criteria for future users and a recruitment issue. "Companies are starting to map the residential desires of employees to build their future location strategy," notes Frédéric Miquel. While metropolises will continue to capture the bulk of economic activity, a new dialectic will be established with medium-sized cities, based on greater movement of individuals and a gradual dilution of workplaces. This redensification of areas with little investment offers the opportunity, for municipalities emptied of their services and their businesses, to revitalize their residential and economic fabric.

Release date : Mardi 14 Septembre 2021

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