This report brings together experts who are aligned with innovation
Tom Hughes is a partner in the commercial real estate team.
Intro: Real Estate Outlook
When we prepared our original report in 2020, we spoke to experts across the industry who provided their thoughts on the changes going on all around us. Our report was published just months after the start of the pandemic when the industry was in a state of panic. Nevertheless, the general feedback we received was one of opportunity for those willing to adapt and those able to innovate.
Where the contributors to our original report came from within the industry, this report brings together experts who are aligned with innovation and who by background have less traditional links with the sector. These are the voices of the innovators who are seizing the opportunities heralded in our original report.
Over the past few years, the global real estate industry has experienced a huge shift in the trajectory of its engagement with technology and new ways of doing things. As a law firm that represents investors, founders and entrepreneurs at the forefront of some of the most exciting changes in the industry, we have used our unique position to give a platform here to some of their views and experiences. We are grateful for the input from all of our contributors - but we also acknowledge that the dialogue about what the future of real estate has in store is very much ongoing.
'The new default is 'cameras on'. Technology platforms and the multi-media experiences they offer have gone from the peripheral to the mainstream.
Over the last few years the real estate sector has embraced the innovators, who have thrived on the disruption of the pandemic, to help solve the global problems of the sector.
Intro: The Disruption Wave
Looking back at the global financial crisis of 2008-2013, when many large names in the global banking world suddenly vanished, thousands of people lost their jobs and homes, and many previously flourishing economies went into free-fall, the outlook was dire. But out of this bleak moment-in-time we saw the emergence of the fintech revolution, which began to thrive on disruption, the availability of highly skilled individuals, and the practical and now rather obvious inefficiencies in the banking and financial services sectors.
10-15 years on and these fintech startups are now dominating the financial services landscape, many becoming household brands: Revolut, Transferwise, SaltPay, Ant, Klarna, Grab Pay, and Starling Bank, to name a few. These companies have completely disrupted the traditional banking sector (particularly in developing and under-banked markets) and, in many cases, driven significant change in the way we do business.
It is now generally accepted that the pandemic had a similar, if not greater, level of disruption across many other sectors – including the real estate sector – and so it is with great interest that we are presenting these findings here. Over the last few years the real estate sector has embraced the innovators, who have thrived on the disruption of the pandemic, to help solve the global problems of the sector.
James Shaw is a partner and head of Withers tech.
Key themes from our experts
- The new default is 'cameras on'. Technology platforms and the multi-media experiences they offer have gone from the peripheral to the mainstream. This demand for enhancement in the end-user experience is replicated throughout the global demand for real estate.
- Hybrid working has changed the way we think about the balance between home, work and social life. The focus of this new paradigm is workplace lifestyle, with workers looking to their buildings to support and enhance all aspects of their lives in a way that is much less siloed than before.
- Existing ways of doing things have been digitised – but there is growing appreciation for the importance of the value of the underlying data being captured as part of these digital processes.
- Talent retention has always been a key challenge for successful businesses and even more so in the age of hybrid working. Today's workforce have much more nuanced expectations of their workplace and their careers than those of five years ago, and employers will need to adapt to these new demands.
- Flexibility in the way that real estate can be accessed is allowing digital-first brands (that have a presence predominantly or exclusively on-line) to 'meet' customers face-to-face through shorter term pop-up outlets. This is changing approaches to market for new entrants, and challenging the historic domination of more traditional retail forces.
- This period has been characterised by growth in the importance of a sense of place, community and sustainability – all of which impact the global demand for the way that real estate is consumed.
- Sustainability has powered up the agenda and is now a key driver within the industry.