‘The pace of change was never so fast and will never be as slow again’. This oft-cited statement mirrors the challenges confronting today’s occupiers.
Their core businesses face the impact of digital transformation while the pressure is on to attract and retain top talent and sustain a strong global culture that also meets local needs. Technology is important, but so too are people.
Real estate is still an old industry where relationships between people matter – and now this is being reflected in new ways in the workplace. There’s a paradigm shift from cash-centric to people-centric strategies across the industry. Cost savings are still a major driver for occupiers, but if they do not make for a better experience in the workplace, the risk of losing talent trumps the cost element.
And this is where Proptech can help. There are three major trends that Proptech can distil from user needs – and by user I mean people, not the tenant – and instil in the industry.
Designing spaces with people in mind will open up those areas to everyone and allow people to get more from them – think of Netflix and how it creates new content based on user-behaviour. Clearly, this means buildings, spaces and users need to be better connected to harvest data that informs design concepts and decisions – which can be delivered through sensors and smart building technology.
Everyone has their own unique set of needs and preferences that enable us to work productively. Properties need to be equipped with interfaces and specifically designed components to help us use the space around us in a much more efficient and effective way. Think of Fora where food is delivered to your desk or an AI building assistant that adapts your schedule automatically to your productivity levels throughout the day.
Most people have left their desks and forgotten to pick up their work ID card at least a few times in recent memory. We want technology to be something invisible, something that requires minimal effort on our part but still works effectively when we need it to. Putting the cybersecurity and regulatory issues this comes with aside, imagine a building that knows what your needs are and how it can make your work life as productive as possible. It is all possible – it requires just a fundamental shift in the way we think, build, manage and position corporate real estate.
Occupiers, and the people who work their companies, are very aware of those trends since they experience them and analyse them on a daily basis whether they work in the technology industry or produce consumer goods. Looking forward, I fully expect there to be more ‘on-demand’ real estate services and further innovation within buildings, which will be driven by data and technology but based on the shared experiences of everyone working in a particular space. In this way, we can use technology to bring out the best in people.