Real estate costs are a major factor in Asia-Pacific occupier sentiment, according to a survey by CBRE.

The advisory firm’s ‘Asia Pacific Occupier Survey’ found 70% of respondents cited the cost of real estate occupancy a top priority when expanding or moving location.

Space efficiency was identified as the most popular initiative to reduce occupancy costs, followed by lease negotiation.

Increased scrutiny of capital expenditure and fit-out costs mean the previously popular strategy of relocation to decentralised or emerging areas may have lost some of its appeal as a cost-saving measure, CBRE’s report said.

CBRE said that, despite current challenges in China, multinational companies still retain strong hiring intentions in the Asia Pacific region, with 42% of commercial real estate executives planning to increase their regional headcount over the next three years.

Henry Chin, head of research at CBRE Asia Pacific, said: “In light of the ongoing economic slowdown and financial market instability, occupiers will need to manage short-term economic volatility when formulating their CRE strategies.

“With a more cautious approach to business expansion, we expect multinationals to focus more on optimising their existing portfolios – for example, through cost control and talent management, rather than expanding their footprint.”

The survey found that better collaboration with customers, colleagues and co-workers is now the key reason behind implementing workplace strategy, closely followed by cost savings.

An emphasis on increasing employee productivity (47%) is also driving the development of workplace strategy.

CBRE said that, with employee satisfaction being one of the key factors for evaluating business performance, workplaces were increasingly offering a wide range of amenities to enhance performance and improve employee retention.