Bhavya Kapoor, Managing Director, South East Asia at Wipro Limited highlights the importance of taking into consideration Occupier’s evolving preferences. In an interview with Awfis, he shares some of his insights on how the commercial real estate need to deliver accordingly, with changing times and needs. Excerpts:
Do you think the ever-evolving priorities of occupiers will have an impact on the CRE industry?
COVID-19 has changed the way people occupy physical space, and forced businesses all over the world to rethink the role of the office. The commercial real estate (CRE) sector will continue to face significant pressure in both the office and retail leasing segments in the near term. The common approach taken by organisations today is to focus on the flexibility of working from anywhere, allowing people to leverage a combination of local workspaces, office hubs, and homes and this evolving hybrid work trend will result in a temporary postponement of leasing decisions or a permanent reduction in demand for real estate space.
According to you, how important it is in the current scenario for the CRE developers to step up and deliver according to the expectations of the corporate occupiers?
Sustainability and employee well-being have become top priorities for businesses all over the world as they gradually return to work. Occupiers are now emphasizing on the experiential value conducive to collaboration and networking, over traditional metrics such as cost/square foot or sales/square foot. CRE developers should take a technology-driven approach to include health and safety-related smart building features, and improve cybersecurity and data privacy to ensure sustainable environments and safe workplaces.
What do you think is the one area or aspect that occupiers and CRE developers, both agree on?
Flexible workplaces – It is not about having everyone work from home or the office, but rather about defining a new, hybrid world. The majority of workers who can work remotely have transitioned to a hybrid world. The challenge for occupiers and CRE developers is to make the hybrid model sustainable. The new paradigm for today’s workplaces is to communicate more and commute less. For CRE developers, modifying spaces to optimize costs, enabling work-near-home spaces, and collaborating with occupiers to seize new opportunities and improve tenant relationships will be critical.
When it comes to considering workplaces for the new age workforce, what will be your top priority?
Safeguarding physical and mental health – In any model, we must consider how the outside world affects employee well-being. Employees have had to deal with not only the pandemic, but also the challenges of lockdown and reduced social interaction. As the lines between work and home have blurred, this has resulted in loneliness, isolation, and burnout for some. Businesses should put in place the necessary policies, programmes, and safety nets to manage and mitigate the risks associated with wellbeing by creating safe environments.