Digital technology is at the center of 21st century life. We’re so accustomed to using technology throughout our personal lives that it’s become essential to our ability to live and work efficiently. Further to that, technology has massively increased our expectations around immediacy.
Now, we expect a plethora of digital and real-world services to be readily available. Just as we can instantly communicate with people from all over the world, order a pizza in a few clicks via a smart device, or book a cab without having to flag one down, we’re coming to expect the same levels of convenience to be present within our offices: whether that’s to reserve a meeting space within seconds, check the air quality of a room, or report a maintenance issue.
The enforced digitization of our lives throughout 2020 further accelerated these trends. As Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, said in April 2020: “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months”.
As the world shut down, tech became a lifeline for many individuals and businesses. From February to June 2020, use of Microsoft Teams grew by 894%, and Zoom by 677% in the same period. The mass adoption of even the most generic video conferencing software, albeit accelerated by Covid-19, testifies a much greater shift – one that’s been bubbling under the surface for a while.
These behavioural changes are fundamental to how we live our lives, and the pace at which landlords must adapt has rapidly increased. The backseat approach is long gone and the best landlords have already started to respond – playing a different role as tenants begin to demand more, and flexible, tech-centred services are fast becoming a standard part of the package.
Real estate must keep up, and it is imperative that the demand for in-building technology is both heard, and met. In a world where health and safety is placed under the microscope, and the majority of people own multiple smart devices, the buildings in which we live and operate must adapt to the evolving needs of the user. Our buildings must become as smart as the society they are constructed to serve.