How workplaces will be like in 2022 | Real Estate Asia

How workplaces will be like in 2022

Hybrid workplaces and ESG goals are set to influence the market going forward.

The market is due for a shake-up as 2022 brings with it a renewed focus on evolving the current workplace and landlord agreement. 

In a panel discussion held at The Real Estate Asia Summit, several trends in real estate were discussed by prominent figures in the industry, particularly Huttons Group CEO Mark Yip, EY Global Real Estate Head, Hospitality and Construction Teh Seng Leong, Knight Frank APAC Head of Global Portfolio Solutions Dan Whitmore, and Raffles Quay Management CEO Ben Robinson. 

A new workplace

Chief amongst the new trends is the adoption of a hybrid workplace. The invited experts discussed what tenants and landlords can do towards the move to it.  

As Singapore positioned itself as a safe haven for foreign investors due to the strength of its local dollar, companies are expanding and are on the lookout for additional spaces. Due to this, Yip observed that companies are moving to co-working environments.Compared to retail rentals, which Yip noted as being depressed, office rentals showed signs of picking up.

Leong also agreed with Yip’s comments, whilst also noting an increased demand for flexibility. According to him, collaborations between offices and a third party is essential for the move to hybrid. 

Meanwhile, Whitmore pointed to the availability of data and the lack of communication between other aspects of the workforce—such as IT and human resources—as the main obstacles. The lack of this would mean not being able to implement long-term changes in strategies aimed at supporting hybrid workplaces. To combat this, Whitmore said that improvements to collect said data were in place since the beginning of the pandemic, which would allow businesses to better understand their real estate requirements. 

In terms of the lack of communication, he said that due to the pandemic’s suddenness, the majority of efforts were focused on creating systems that would allow for everyone to remotely access the resources needed. Because of these new systems, executives would be able to plan structural changes to the framework of the company to allow for hybrid set-ups.

This also aligned with the strategy discussed by Robinson regarding the collection of data. Through the use of sensors and an access-controlled system, occupiers are able to determine statistics such as foot traffic and floor destinations. The system in place would also differentiate other workers from each other, alleviating the problem of tailgating, or double-recording, when tracking individuals.

Sustainability shake-up

Another trend discussed by the four is the move towards more sustainable structures and the hurdles that come with them.

Yip pointed to the divide between older structures and more modern ones. 

“Landlords in old buildings will struggle to implement the systems needed for ESG [environmental, social, and governance] saving, such as how to make the building more green. It does put an impact on landlords that maintain these old buildings, and how these efforts can result in new tenants,” said Yip.

New owners, however, forego the financial problems faced by older structures. 

Due to this divide, the Huttons Group CEO reiterated the need for more grants and funding for smaller-scale companies. Unlike multinational entities, these lack the resources needed to pivot to a more sustainable setting. 

For Raffles Quay’s Robinson, the move meant that certifications became a requirement for both landlord and tenants going forward. These sustainability-focused classifications became an expectation for premium assets as a way of delivering value to occupiers. Due to this position, the CEO highlighted how his group, as landlords, have to take the lead in terms of delivering sustainability data to lower-grade assets and supporting tenants. 

This includes efforts such as providing the landlord’s roadmap towards ESG targets, data transparency, and how ESG is comparable amongst all asset classes. 

To watch the full event and learn more from other speakers, watch the full video below. 

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