2022: Out with the Old, In with the Transformation in Office
In 2021, the response to the ongoing pandemic – and the most recent spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant – has ushered in a new normal for the future of the office. Adjustments to enterprise real estate strategies, namely widescale demand for flexibility, better in-building experiences and hybrid working, have triggered sweeping changes to the commercial office market.
Landlords and office providers are re-evaluating their office propositions and the role they play in attracting and retaining tenants. Companies and their employees want to work collaboratively, but with the option of working across multiple locations securely and seamlessly. Technology is facilitating this change, and forward-thinking landlords and office providers who embrace this reality will have the competitive edge in today’s modern commercial real estate landscape.
Digital Technology: Adopt or Convert
Software and technology can help landlords unlock space and activate services for their tenants at a faster pace, offering them a fit-for-purpose office environment more quickly and easily while reducing vacancies across their portfolios. Technology is allowing landlords to realize their flexible workspace strategies at scale, seizing on this growing market opportunity amid a period of social and economic uncertainty.
Now is a critical time for landlords to digitally transform their office portfolios. Those who don’t take action will get left behind, as tenants will turn away from offerings that don’t suit their needs. As the office landscape continues to transform, landlords who fail to adapt will struggle to survive.
Below are the technology trends that have defined the office in 2021 and will continue to be key for landlords in delivering next generation office experiences in this fast-evolving market.
With the onset of hybrid and distributed working, there are more digital touchpoints than ever, causing companies to prioritize connectivity and security. Ensuring this requires a digital infrastructure foundation that can offer secure and resilient services and unlock seamless movement across spaces. Digital infrastructure is also the bedrock for device management and ease of control over access to workspaces, meeting rooms, lockers, printers and more from a single platform.
The digital infrastructure component is absolutely critical for landlords to create a portfolio-wide campus-style network for their tenants. However, many owners lack the technological capabilities and digital infrastructure to deliver on what enterprise occupiers require. In 2022, successful real estate owners and operators will need to provide the right technology throughout their entire portfolios. This means partnering with proptech firms that can provide the digital foundation to support amenity-rich physical (and digital) spaces that are key to attracting and retaining occupiers.
Enterprise occupiers are prioritizing digital security – from secure connectivity and networks to secure door access – making it a crucial component for landlords to meet tenant requirements. However, it remains a challenge for landlords and office providers as traditional security technology is not built for complex flexible office environments, much less for flexibility at scale across an entire portfolio. Having a network that runs over a private cloud and is secure, resilient and high-performing has been proven essential. Digital security came under the microscope in 2021 and will continue to be a top concern for enterprise corporations as they realign their data compliance and security requirements to their evolving real estate strategies.
Office Space Management and Operations
Along with greater flexibility comes the need for greater operational transparency. It is more vital than ever for landlords and tenants to understand how the needs and uses of office space are changing. The ability to respond to tenant needs will be necessary, especially as the workspace remains in flux with the ongoing pandemic. With space and operations management technology, landlords and office providers can operate more efficiently and profitably. This degree of operational transparency will continue to be a priority given landlords’ urgency to reduce vacancies and optimize asset valuations through flexible propositions – whether self-managed or via management agreements with operators.
The Office with a Purpose
While companies need to respond to employee demands for flexibility and better workspace experiences, each company also needs to protect its business ethos. The office plays a critical role in that. The three Cs – Culture, Collaboration and Cooler talk – can still be preserved within the office.
At its core, the office is about people, humanizing work and maintaining the value of social capital. Whether it’s the spontaneous interactions that generate new ideas, relieving the loneliness of working from home or the training and professional development opportunities for young professionals, there is no replacement for the office. Technology is critical to unlocking a holistic and seamless office experience that fosters these positive working environments. The pressure will continue to rise for landlords to adapt quickly and efficiently to meet tenants’ evolving needs. Those that adopt the right technology tools will win in transforming the office experience for their tenants.