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Digitalisation

Before the pandemic struck , organisations knew they had to digitally transform their businesses, but there was no urgency. In a lot of cases there was a lack of expertise or indeed fear of the technology, especially amongst SME’s .

Now the urgency is there, and many organisations have had to adopt digital transformation in order to stay in business during lockdowns and with furloughed workforces. Digitalisation can be very positive for us or it could lead to many problems . Many of the mass surveillance and data collection apps that are being implemented now across the world need to be carefully assessed. Already in the UK test and track data is being openly sold on the market .

Apart from that, there might be a silver lining to this crisis: we could travel less, live better, become more relaxed and enjoy a cleaner climate as a result. Until then, we have to think carefully about how we want to come out of this.

Many workers will prefer to work flexibly and remotely . Organisations are going through an unprecedented change ; all of a sudden, employees have to start working from home. Before the pandemic , remote work was something  a lot of companies resisted. Worried about productivity, staff management and security. Now forced to allow staff to work remotely they’ve had to rapidly adapt and implement systems to facilitate WFH. 

This rise of the Remote Employee, the Digital Nomad and the flexi worker will be long-term, and it will have a significant impact on how we organise our work,  house prices and the commercial property market .

Research from around the world shows that after a few weeks of getting used to the situation, people are now starting to see the benefits of working remotely. Lots of organisations reporting productivity gains. There are still some challenges, but the longer we have to work from home, the better we will get at it. Once we are allowed to go back to the office, it is likely that some  employees don’t want to as they have experienced the benefits of working remotely. However there are downsides to WFH, isolation , lack of space, interruptions from family and pets. There is of course always a need to meet with colleagues face to face on a regular basis . Therefore hybrid solutions involving hot desk, community work spaces and meeting venues will inevitably arise. 

Part of your office staff will move away from cities and large urban business parks  and the office and will decide to live more rurally. They will get more house for their money in rural areas. Designing and creating home based workspaces, garden offices and the “fold away office” will become a new industry sector . Depending on the number of people moving away from the city, this will affect house prices.

However, fewer employees in the office also means that companies require less office space. In plenty of cities around the world, the supply of office space has soared in recent years. However, if suddenly, the demand drops, prices will go down as well. This will not happen immediately as organisations are tied into leases . Already movement is being seen of smaller businesses moving from dedicated offices on long leases into easy, short term shared space offices. Office flexibility is the key to this . Sadly many businesses have been forced to shed staff as well as those remaining working from home, so flexi space and easy term leases are the new way forward. Once again this also highlights the failing of the UK business rates regulations and government needs to urgently rethink this. Fewer people in the office, also means fewer people on the road and in trains, directly affecting planned and future infrastructure projects. On the other hand, the digital infrastructure will need to be expanded, which is where 5G could come in. In a lot of rural areas, there is limited broadband internet available, but 5G could change this. So maybe investment in high speed broadband is better than high speed trains? 

Whatever happens next we are certainly entering a period of disruptive change .