Orient Magazine Issue 86 - April 2022 - Page 38


Asia Market Outlook 2022 : Are We Ready ?

Is the real estate industry ready for 2022 and beyond ?
Alisdair Gillies
Managing Director , Greengate Advisors , and Chair , BritCham Built Environment Committee
Samarth Kasturia
Director , Data Analytics and Workplace Strategy Lead , Knight Frank and Member , BritCham Built Environment Committee
Andy Marr
Managing Director at 8build Asia and Co-Chair , BritCham Built Environment Committee
This was the question posed to a diverse panel of corporate real estate executives at the first live event organized by the British Chamber of Commerce and CoreNet Global Singapore Chapter of the year . The thought-provoking panel included Dan Whitmore , Head of Global Portfolio Solutions APAC from Knight Frank , Elizabeth Laws Fuller , Head of Growth , Southeast Asia at WeWork , Nick Hughes , Regional Head of Workplace ( Property ) at Standard Chartered Bank , and Vivekk Sehgal , Workplace Lead at Singtel and was expertly moderated by Neil Salton , Managing Director at ChangeWorq .
Focusing on offices and corporate real estate in general , the event quickly uncovered significant variance in cultural demands , business drivers , and industry specific nuances , all of which had a huge impact on an organisations readiness to adopt flexible working practices , integrate technology into their real estate offer and fully embrace the philosophy of the workplace being an extension of the brand .
Key takeaways from the discussion include the following :
1 . Flexibility – A matter of change management
Whilst many organisations were embracing alternate real estate models and ways of working prior to the pandemic , COVID-19 accelerated the necessity for change as businesses recognized the need for flexibility in how their staff worked both in and out of the office . However , many businesses remain constrained by pre-existing lease commitments , owned real estate , management inertia , or simply industry specific norms in terms of ways of working .
Whilst these barriers are real , they are not preventing the flexibility tide therefore delicately addressing the barriers in a well-considered , situation specific manner , whilst maintaining business performance and staff wellbeing will be critical to long term success .
2 . The future of workplace - A renewed purpose
There has been a significant reevaluation in the role and use of office space . Gone are the days of churning out a 9-6 workday at a fixed desk for most people . The office is now being used a space for high-value activities such as innovation , collaboration and co-creation supplemented by quiet and task-based zones for more focused activities . In addition , organizations are actively exploring how to provide workers with office access closer to their homes through memberships at co-working venues to repurposing ancillary real estate , such as banking branches , to accommodate satellite workers .
This not only benefits employee convenience but releases the pressure on the central office whilst providing variability and choice for workers who seek to explore new work venues . Central offices with smaller footprints are now frequently used for brand building and culture hubs rather than focused work locations .
3 . Enhance technology beyond the office
Whereas many businesses were quick to respond to events over the last 24 months , technology as an enabler to flexible working still lags where it needs to be . From basic provision such as access to a fast , reliable internet connection to high tech solutions such as considering the sociological factors for virtual meetings , technology and the implementation of it at a corporate and real estate level is not moving fast enough . Much of the necessary flexibility associated with new ways of working needs to strong , wellstructured backbone for the company to thrive .
Connecting our organisations to the city , using technology to drive not only productivity but the experience of work will be critical in differentiating well adopted hybrid strategies from the ones that are not structured properly .