A recent headline report on PropTech released by the Saïd Business School at Oxford University – its first real estate research report – concluded that the sector is ripe for change, yet that its capacity to resist this change should not be under-estimated. PropTech is here for the long-term, it said, but also noted that changing consumer behaviour will drive the outcome for the next real estate cycle. This view was reflected at the recent Propteq Europe conference, where the consensus at a dedicated seminar on how start-ups could attract the right investment was that the real, long-term opportunity here is driven by the end user. While a lot of the growing businesses are currently focused on ‘big data’ solutions to improve efficiency and support back-office systems, the true transformation will come from the consumers using the space itself.
To take workspaces as an example: the corner office days are long behind us, with the broad view that cubicles and partitions stunt employee collaboration and productivity. Data capture can now offer other benefits to both workers and employers, with smart building design helping to ensure that the best talent is attracted and retained. On top of this, there has been a rise of platforms dedicated to the building and sourcing of flexible offices, so that both businesses and freelance workers can find the right fit for their desired budget and culture.
However innovative the technology within the building, co-working space or not, the property must work for the occupiers and, for the most part, slot into everyday life. High vacancy rates are never good news, and investment will only really grow if the spaces are continually in use. Ultimately, keeping the consumer at front of mind when designing and developing will help to achieve this, and then we’ll see the real change.