Real Estate Post Covid 19

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The disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic has catalysed businesses to hurtle towards the future. The journey of real estate, which was once slow and leisurely, with plenty of stops for planning, imagining and consulting, has now been put on fast-track to meet future challenges. The future will be more driven by technology instead of mere brick and mortar. One of the immediate changes brought about by the pandemic has been the need to work from home. This trend, which has been absorbed to a great extent now will likely be the new norm.


It has been more than a month now; several organisations have already been practising the new work from home culture. Going ahead, remote working will likely become the new norm. It is a great opportunity for organisations to re-assess their real estate requirements. Moreover, they now need to re-think about the space that they actually need and redesign their workspaces in sync with the new working style. To illustrate, an office may presently be designed for 100 people. However, if a large number of employees can work from their own premises, the office space can be redesigned to accommodate a lesser number of people by maintaining the new social distancing norms. In many cases, the actual space required will reduce drastically. This can bring about great savings in costs.


The savings are likely to accrue not only from the reduction in space but also from the reduction in the overhead costs. With a lesser number of people in the office, there shall be a substantial reduction in the expenditure on electricity, water, catering, connectivity, uniforms, and laundry expenses. The list can go on and on. The companies that have several branches and regional offices can decide to rationalise some of these units, and instead, leverage digital capabilities to achieve greater impact. Since virtual official meetings have successfully been done in the recent past, the need for meeting rooms in corporate offices can be done away further.


From the viewpoint of an employee, the staff will get added flexibility to work, uninterrupted in a comfortable ambience, and achieve the same results. While the employer saves on space and overheads, the employee will save on travel time and cost. It is a win-win situation for both the employee and the organisation. Going ahead, digital adoption by customers, distributors and employees will immensely drive the need to reduce branch size over a period of time.


Many companies already have a system wherein; the sales force carries a virtual office on their devices through which the organisation provides them with timely leads on real-time opportunities. Such systems can be leveraged for better adaptability after the pandemic, and the entire sales cycle can be managed by the distributor digitally. This will immensely reduce the necessity for the physical brick and mortar office. This does not call for a major investment. However, a well thought and easy to use the digital platform, good network connectivity and collaboration platform is what is required. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are likely to emerge as game-changers in this situation.


In the absence of the pandemic, such systems could have been visualised over the next seven or eight years. COVID-19 has provided the organisations with a shot in the arm to make it happen now if they want to survive. Those who seize the opportunity are the ones who will gain an edge over their peers. In one sense, the virus has come as a great leveller, because it does not distinguish between large and small businesses. But we are fortunate to be living at a time when technology can come to the rescue. This is a disruption that was being talked about for some time, but it needs to be embraced if the businesses do not want to face an existential crisis.