The COVID-19 epidemic has significantly accelerated many global trends, forming new habits and behavior patterns including PropTech industry. Here are 5 main trends, which according to our team’s view will significantly increase in 2021: 1. Capsule offices. 2. Robots for disinfection and cleaning of premises. 3. Hotel rooms used as offices. 4. Hybrid office. 5. Digitization of processes (IoT, AI/ML, Blockchain, BigData).
COVID-19 eliminated the everyday need to go to the office for many employees. For example, Twitter told employees that they can work from home “forever”. Google will extend WFH until the summer of 2021. Pinterest has canceled its massive SF office lease for Project 88 Bluxom, citing changing work landscape and paying $ 89.5 million one-of-lease breakage fee.
But working from home is not always convenient; someone gets distracted by household chores, someone spends time interacting with family members, someone simply has noisy neighbors. Hence, for all affected, it became necessary to create an isolated area at home to stay productive. In most cases, not everyone has the option of separate office space, especially if several people work from home. One of the solutions to the problem are capsule workplaces. They have long been used as individual meeting rooms in co-working spaces or open space offices. As a rule, just like any office cabinet, the capsule office would be equipped with a table, chair, lamp, sockets for connecting gadgets to the network, Ethernet, USB connection, wireless charging, etc. adjustable lighting and temperature. Given the small size of the capsule, it has automatic ventilation based on a motion sensor. The cabinet suppresses noise up to 28 dB and occupies a little more than 1 sq. m.
Even as vaccines against COVID-19 will be distributed across the world, the businesses will continue to fight against the spread of the harmful viruses and bacteria. In 2021, we will see a range of new research projects and first commercial implementations. Higher levels of disinfection will be expected by customers in a contactless economy where all live, work, study and play.
For example, LG Electronics Inc. announced the development of an autonomous robot, the LG CLOi Disinfection Bot, which will use UV light to disinfect high-traffic areas with major clients being in the hospitality, education, corporate, retail, restaurant and transportation sectors. Thanks to its autonomous design, the robot can easily move around tables, chairs and other furniture. It usually irradiates the tangible surfaces of a room in 15-30 minutes, disinfects several rooms on one battery charge.
The robot is easy to operate, so it can be integrated into routine cleaning procedures without the need for extensive training of staff or specialists to work with it. Staff will be able to track progress using remote notifications on smartphones or tablets. Employee exposure to UV rays will be minimized with a built-in safety lock activated by human motion sensors, by pressing the emergency stop button or via the mobile app.
Also, Akara Robotics Ltd. (Ireland), said its Violet disinfectant robot has a 90% to 99% success rate in killing pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, influenza and MRSA. UVD Robots has won a European Commission contract to supply 200 disinfecting robots to more than 10 countries. One of the Danish firm’s systems has recently started operating at Key West International Airport. In addition, UAV supplier Draganfly Inc. said it is working with Varigard on a disinfectant spray that will be applied to the stadiums of the University of Alabama (ASU).
Large international hotel chains, due to the drop in room occupancy, have offered a new service – room rental for organizing remote work of employees. The idea itself is not new, hotel rooms were already used as workspaces in the late 1990s, including a common practice to hold meetings in hotel lobbies. The main difference is that previously such rentals were usually available upon request and were not offered as a mainstream service.
Many hotels, foreseeing that the pandemic will drag on for a long time, are converting their living quarters into offices on a permanent basis: they remove beds, replace office furniture, etc. thus entering the direct competition with business centers. The advantage of the hotel is that in a converted for office needs hotel room, the guest will have his own bathroom, he can use all the usual hotel services such as room service.
Until recently, the office was a meeting place, a place for communication and group work. The situation with COVID-19 and the transition to remote work has led to the fact that not all employees need office space. Change in the concept of work, the premises are being modernized. Parts of the open office space were reallocated for meeting rooms, the tables became loose for employees. Tools for booking and service management are emerging.
Employees expect more flexibility to work not only in the workplace but also in the physical workplace. It should be borne in mind that during any meeting, some of the staff can connect remotely. In any case, the office must be equipped with tools for effective communication between employees.
Thus, a hybrid office in 2021 must meet the following requirements: 1. Digital platform + Physical office. 2. Accommodation + office nearby (For example, renting a place in the coworking chain). The transition to a flexible work schedule and location will lead to focus being shifted to only one requirement for employees – key performance indicators (KPI) or objectives and key results (OKR).
As of 2020, 58% of real estate companies had a digital strategy, and a senior executive was responsible for implementing it. Key areas for digitalization at PropTech are real-time asset performance data, building optimization, transactions, and customer data. The key drivers for investments in digital IT and PropTech are increased efficiency (65%), lower costs (47%), more efficient decision making (44%).
Smart devices will replace people when checking property rights and will help reduce energy consumption. Having historical records of property maintenance, managers can understand the current state of a house or an apartment and take proactive actions. Moreover, Smart Tech isn’t limited to personal devices; it takes the form of smart buildings and even cities. Collected during the research phase, big data is transformed into an understandable result using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Every sphere ranging from property search results to customer service can be taken to the next level.
Sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin have disrupted the real estate industry by harnessing the power of Big Data. These companies can collect data on buying and selling trends in a specific area, traffic, demographic information, consumer survey results, and more, and then analyze and correlate that data to gain insight into prices, home value trends, and potential valuations in certain areas.
For owners and property managers, Big Data is the real-time and historic information collection about all types of building systems, such as electrical, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, fire safety, utilities, telecommunications, etc.
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