Earlier this month I hosted a series of meetings with some of our key investors. The meetings were a little different than usual taking place via video conferencing facilities rather than face to face. As always, I really valued the opportunity to be able to speak with investors so directly. I suspect video calls and greater access to CEOs and CFOs will be one of those trends that will be here to stay when Covid 19 has finally passed us by. I thought I would share some of the key discussions on market and business trends from those virtual meetings.
A new normal
In my view Covid 19 has accelerated underlying trends and changes that were already taking place in our society and in our workplaces. Before the pandemic hit there were demands for greater flexible working options, less rigid working patterns, and companies to do more for their employees. Forced home working and the incredible level of adaptation we’ve seen from businesses – many of whom have totally changed decades-long entrenched working patterns in just a matter of days and weeks – shows that these changes are workable and therefore, I believe, many of them will be here to stay. As an employer we welcome these changes, we’re listening to employee feedback and are working on our own programme to make any improvements we can. And as a provider of workplaces we will do all we can to facilitate these changes for our customers.
Redistribution away from CBDs
We were already beginning to see utilisation of space fall in central business districts in urban centres before the pandemic hit and I expect to see that trend further accelerate in the coming months and years. I don’t think we’ll see people leave central business districts completely as happened in the United States between 1950 and 1980 as employers flocked to suburban sites, but utilisation rates will continue to fall as people perform more work at home and companies look for spaces out of town that are easily accessible and less densely occupied.
ESG an increasing focus
Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) plays an ever-increasing part in conversations with shareholders. We welcome this at Sirius, and it is one of our key focus areas. Creating sustainable impact and long-term social and financial value is at the heart of our company’s purpose. I was delighted to be able to discuss some of the environmental initiatives we’ve taken recently, whether that’s our plan for a pilot to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure at some our parking spaces or our commitment that from the 1st January next year nearly 100% of the electricity consumption of the portfolio will be sourced from 100% certified green electricity sources.
A diverse and inclusive workforce
Diversity and inclusivity make for better run businesses. A Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. I talked to investors about the steps we have taken at Sirius to improve diversity including our recent appointment of two new female board members. Our workforce is made up of 24 different nationalities from all over the world with a range of backgrounds and experiences, I see every day just how important it is for us to maintain a diverse team of people, it makes for better decision making, greater entrepreneurialism and an increased capacity in terms of problem solving It’s a key priority for Sirius.
Business diversification is key
Diversification of our business is also key. I talked to investors about how we plan to make our business even stronger and more resilient in the future. This means further diversification of our customer base across different industries, diversification of our range of products, covering the management spaces for light and heavy manufacturing business, storage space, flexible options, and of course, diversification of our geographic base across Germany.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.