The pandemic up-ended our routines, disrupted several industries and encouraged building users to rethink the spaces we once took for granted. The resulting shifts put some buildings or portfolios at risk, and demonstrate the creativity and proactivity required to adapt built assets for the needs of a dynamic world. Our respondents agree that flexibility of space and occupation patterns will be a vital part of real estate’s future, but not all are equipped to achieve it.
Future investment priorities
We asked respondents about their building investment priorities over the last 12 months and for the future. While location seemed to decline in importance, we saw a significant growth in the role for flexible design, and greater emphasis on material resilience. This has certainly been accelerated by the pandemic and the need for buildings to be more adaptable.
Flexibility on the rise
When we asked our respondents how building performance is likely to change over the next three to five years, 84% predicted space and lease flexibility will become vital. Some of the drivers for this includes rise in remote working, flexibility in office design, the automation of service industries and demographic shifts.
Are you prepared to create more flexible buildings?
40% ranked building design and construction flexibility as a building performance challenge they feel least prepared to act on over the next three to five years. As the market is continually moving radically and unexpectedly, if assets are to avoid being stranded, owners and occupiers should be ready to repurpose their buildings for more productive means.
Risks of a changing world
With the pandemic accelerating several trends, we found that 44% of respondents are concerned about the rise in remote working as a threat to their property portfolio. Remote working is now the new norm, with people wanting to travel less to the office and have more of a work-life balance. If buildings are not adapted to to the occupiers needs, this will be a greater risk for owners.
Adaptable assets are resilient assets
A complete picture of a building’s future performance must include its capacity for reinvention. Social and economic shifts can occur rapidly and unexpectedly, but continually appraising long-term trends is fundamental to maintaining value and resilience. Those interventions might include (but are not limited to) improving health and wellbeing, decreasing carbon loads and mitigating the impacts of climate change on building fabric or services.
Our research showed a growing awareness of the need for flexibility to meet these changes, both new and familiar. However, we found many respondents unprepared to act. 40% ranked building design and construction flexibility as being among the top three issues they feel least prepared to act on over the next three to five years.
“It’s about designing flexibility and durability into the project.”
Robin Keates, Grainger
This process begins at acquisition, or when planning a new development or refurbishments to an existing asset. Making the right decisions at these early stages requires collaboration with building specialists which understand the technical capabilities of a space and how any investment required to improve them will pay off. Those improvements may cover building structure, plan shape, floor height or design loadings, and will include climate change adaptation considerations and circular economy principles to mitigate those future risks, among any other commercial priorities for an owner or occupiers.
For existing buildings, radical fundamental adaptation may be unfeasible. However, even on listed buildings or those within restrictive sites or with awkward configurations, drastic improvements can be achieved with a project team of experts to apply the commercial need to building fabric and services.
How we can help
We’re here to help
For more information on how we can help your organisation improve building performance for more valuable and resilient assets, please get in touch with our expert team today.