It is undeniable that we are all currently living in very strange times. In only a few months, every sector has changed dramatically. This especially includes the property sector — an industry that usually relies on face-to-face contact and personal relationships. Despite this, there are ways to develop within “The New Normal”. Flexibility is the key to learning how to thrive in our new world.
To better understand what your potential clients are looking for, you need to look at how your business is running. The first change to note will be whether or not you will be staying in the same offices as before, or even an office at all. Whilst it can be almost guaranteed that many companies will still see the value in keeping a bricks-and-mortar HQ, “The New Normal” has made everyone reconsider what they deem to be an essential place for work, and what that place needs in order to be most efficient.
What will be most important to your business going forwards? And is that drastically different to how you operated before?
Just like many businesses, potential commercial clients might be looking for smaller workspaces with the intention of having only a few staff members in at a time. Commercial property owners must assess how their assets with 100+ capacity can be modified to fit the needs of this changing time.
You also may need to reconsider the potential layouts of your offerings. Spaces designed around tightly-knit office cubicles, hot desks, and communal areas are likely on their way out. If these are the aspects you highlight when showing clients your portfolios, now is the time to rethink that strategy.
Now more than ever clients are looking for places with high-speed internet — this goes for both commercial clients and private tenants. Previously for tenants, high-speed internet was often a “nice to have”. In a world where many will begin working from home, top broadband speeds will be a necessity. Think about how high-speed internet will benefit your business and staff. If you have been joining the trend of video-viewings in lieu of in-person viewings, you will already know how reliant on internet the future of house-viewings now is.
In the 2020 budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £5bn of investment to be put towards connectivity, involving putting full-fibre and gigabit capable networks into every home and business during the next five years. Top-speed internet is clearly the priority of “The New Normal”.
Likewise, the ideal locations of your properties might change. A decrease in the requirement to commute might mean that your potential private tenants begin looking outside of the city for a place to call home. It might be worth taking a look at your portfolio to see which of your offerings are slightly further out of what you ordinarily would market as an easy “commutable distance”.
Which of your offerings are in beautiful areas or near coffee shops and social hubs? Do you have any further-out properties that are larger or nicer than something for the same price in the city? Cultivating these will be the key to success. That is not to say that your city properties are now worthless — many businesses will still see the benefits of being city-based, as will many private tenants who still commute or love the city lifestyle.
Flexibility extends beyond changing your portfolio and how your business runs day-to-day. Your contracts might also need a rethink. As businesses move away from bricks-and-mortar as a long term solution, consider taking on shorter-term contracts to fill your office spaces. By doing this, you will make sure you have a constant flow of tenants rather than relying on long-term tenants that may become few and far between.
This may require rethinking the clients you look for. Consider renting to small businesses and start-ups, or invest in turning your office spaces into co-working offices. If you stay flexible and embrace a steady stream of a variety of businesses, you may find it easier to fill your properties than if you rely on long-term contacts or your traditional clientele alone. As businesses rebuild, short-term bricks-and-mortar will be vital.
In short, it is of the upmost importance that you stay relevant in “The New Normal” and flexibility is the way to keep from being obsolete. Be willing to observe and lean into the new trends that will appear, whether those trends are new prime locations for properties, dynamic shifts in how commercial offices work, or an increased reliability on technology. By keeping your portfolio flexible and up-to-date, you will undeniably benefit from “The New Normal”.
Written by Israel Moskovitz,
“How to adapt to “The New Normal”: Taking stock of the changes across property sector” first appeared on my Medium profile.