The ultraconservative real estate industry has been forced into a state of flux. It is facing a perfect storm like never before. Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed where and how people work, but other factors including ubiquitous digital access, the gig economy and the diverse needs of a multigenerational workforce are having major implications for the demand for real estate. I noticed a Major National law firm reduced one of their offices' by 40%. Most businessese who have now experienced remote working are questioning the ways we used to work and the purpose of the office — which has a knock-on effect for the future of our cities. These days, consumers are less likely to take on long-term lease commitments are also demanding greater operational type services based around user experience and well-being. For stand alone real estate companies as well as corporate real estate departments, this requires a shift in thinking beyond cost control and efficiency and toward taking on more responsibility for workplace effectiveness. It signals a need for an improved relationship between consumer and supplier.
The current status quo of static office buildings where workers are confined in a sea of cubicles needs to be re-imagined with a people-centric focus that offers smart and agile alternatives. It’s necessary that commercial office space suppliers work in new ways with consumers to build a deeper and more holistic understanding of how a workplace can deliver tangible business value. Are we going to see a dramatic shift from the current adversarial model? The shift in demand brought about by COVID-19 is upending the landlords’ long-running business model of “build it and they will come.”