Despite the impact the pandemic has had on the office sector, the office is not going away. Today’s occupiers still want an HQ. However, their workspace needs have evolved – they are now looking for greater flexibility as to how and where their employees can work. Real estate strategies are changing, and the as-a-service model is becoming an increasingly compelling proposition for companies of all sizes.
This was a view which was shared unanimously among the VIPs at the SPACE+ APAC Thinktank who discussed the shift from transactional real estate to real estate-as-a-service. This service-focused approach is putting the spotlight on experience curation and creating a need for landlords to innovate how they provision and manage spaces, services and amenities.
Those in the room and actively discussing this topic included:
- Helen Lam, Head of Innovation and Head of Development Practices, Asia at Lendlease
- Alison Wong, Senior Vice President, Head of Commercial Properties at Frasers Property
- Yang Liang Chua, Head of Group Research and Strategy at ARA Asset Management
- Hugh Andrew, Managing Director at BlackRock
- Samuel Tay, Head of Real Estate APAC at IWG
- Kok-Chye Ong, Managing Director & Head of Data Centre at Gaw Capital
- Valerie Wong, Group General Manager, GuocoLand
- Tan Kok Heng, Chief Executive Officer, Sunway RE Capital
The discussion was facilitated by essensys‘s Martijn Douven, Senior Vice President for Southeast Asia. Here are some key takeaways from the event.
The workplace is being redefined. What people want is a work-life experience.The group addressed the shift in thinking and changing mindsets between millennials and Gen Zs who are front and centre of this trend, and who make up today and tomorrow’s occupiers. Back with a vengeance post-pandemic after being at home, occupiers now demand more from their workplaces. They are even willing to invest a premium for multi-offering services which align with their own values of health, wellness and sustainability. This is precisely what is driving the rise of real estate-as-a-service – taking a customer-first approach.
The group agreed that hospitality is what sets the office apart from the home working environment. However this hospitality goes beyond the coffee machines and the air-conditioning, people want to be with people in an ecosystem that is fully integrated with technology. In the same vein, a theme emerged on how the pandemic has accelerated the demand for digital-first occupier experiences. This has driven them to implement various technologies as a service in their spaces. According to a recent report by IDC, digital transformation initiatives were a priority for most companies in 2021, and 42% of these investments were tech investments. The take-away is clear that companies need to pursue technology excellence as a service for occupiers.
With technology services foundational to today’s workspaces there is also increasing concern surrounding data and digital security. Martijn Douven highlighted the importance of a holistic and strategic approach to technology that digitally enables buildings and spaces – portfolio wide. A single platform connected through a secure global private network to control network automation and digital services can create the types of experiences occupiers demand today and in the future.
In summary, the workplace has gone beyond a physical space. For landlords and workspace operators, there has been a huge shift in where investment is allocated, and the office reimagined is a space where occupiers can enjoy digitally enabled in-building experiences. Coming out of the pandemic, the only way forward for landlords and workspace operators is to ensure that this is an offering they can provide to continue attracting and retaining their tenants.. The purpose of the office is unquestionable, and it is here to stay.
If you want to find out more about how the essensys platform can help you deliver digitally enabled buildings and spaces like those discussed above, you can get in touch here.