As COVID-19 continues to induce uncertainty and disruptions across all markets, businesses are forced to be agile with their plans. Although projecting future scenarios can be very difficult, it is still important for businesses to try to anticipate changes in market behavior. Here are four factors that may guide firms towards reimagining the new normal for the local real estate scene:
1. Digital Transformation
Having technology integrated with operations aided many businesses to survive the current health crisis. Through digital integration, developers and occupiers were able to connect with their employees and customers, and hence continue their operations. Even after the lifting of community quarantine, many are expected to continue practicing social distancing. Therefore, real estate firms may opt to expand the functionality of their digital systems to offer a more seamless virtual experience for their clients. This may include developers’ adoption of property management applications and provision of virtual tours to clients as an alternative to physical oculars. Similarly, more retailers may embrace e-commerce moving forward as it has kept their businesses afloat during this period. With greater demand for online retail, real estate firms providing warehouses are likely to increase storage capacity and may consider modernizing them to increase efficiency.
2. Remote work culture
The community quarantine has forced businesses to apply flexible work arrangements for their employees. During this period, some firms may consider these arrangements more effective for them and thus, may become more receptive towards maintaining remote work set-ups and other alternative workplace arrangements. In the future, companies may consider reevaluating their use of a physical office space and may look into smaller space cuts or flexible workspaces.
3. Priority on Health and Wellness
Not all companies would be able to apply work-from-home arrangements based on their type of work and must eventually return to their physical offices. However, as stricter health standards are expected to be followed, both occupiers and developers have to revisit how they will adjust their workspaces. Occupiers may now opt for buildings following LEED and WELL standards and office spaces that allow lower office space density. With possible changes in occupier preferences, developers would also have to adjust their building design to ensure health and safety measures are followed and to increase their overall sustainability.
4. Contingency Planning
Most business operations were disrupted with the declaration of the community quarantine. As firms revisit their business continuity plans during this period, demand for company recovery sites may build up. Given the extended enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, businesses may want their recovery sites to be located in emerging areas in surrounding provinces outside Metro Manila, Visayas or Mindanao. Furthermore, to minimize possible work interruptions in the future, more companies in industries like IT-BPO and offshore gaming may look for staff houses near their offices for their employees. With this, condominiums and hotels may consider tapping this potential market.
This pandemic has caused losses in businesses across all sectors. But eventually, the market will bounce back coupled with some kind of evolution. Although no one can be sure of what will face us in the future, it can be expected that whatever the new normal will be, and however it will unfold, it will not just bring innovation but ultimately, transformation in the way people live and the way firms do business. For companies to move forward, they must be prepared to embrace them.