2020 has so far been a year like no other for any industry. Every business is re-thinking its real estate needs, and with Work From Home becoming more viable, the current pandemic will have a profound effect on the market. Companies will need flexibility and business continuity planning in order to be resilient. They will have to consider social distancing measures, sanitization, and limiting the number of persons per square meter, traffic flow, safe use of common areas, and continue to meet employee’s needs for providing spaces for productivity, innovation, and efficiency. It’s a tall order. When we went back to the office this week for General Community Quarantine we were participating in a new experiment of the workplace of the future. Everything still feels tentative.
Like any crisis, Covid-19 has revealed vulnerabilities that were always there such as: the need for a healthy hygienic, and environmentally sustainable work place, the struggle of commute and transportation to and from the office, the need to digitize and make data driven decisions, the need to have office utilization metrics, and the need for businesses and the real estate industry to review and optimize occupancy. We will need technology, proptech specifically, so we can real time data to make decisions on how to handle crowd control in the office. Nothing I have mentioned is new, but now is the time to take it all seriously.
There is no real replacement for a physical space to foster workplace culture, communication, and collaboration. Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and other technologies are very useful tools that fit alongside or within an office but physical space and human interaction will always be necessary. Human bonds are face to face. To me, the technology sustains or maintains those bonds. Even as we adopt to new technologies like automation, robotics, and AI in our offices, the “human in the loop”, physical contact, and interaction are not done away with. In fact, they become even more important. There is nothing like face to face over FaceTime, we just have to find a way to do it safely.
At KMC Solutions, when the pandemic struck and offices emptied, we immediately thought of how we could pivot to meet the challenge. We understood that a lack of human connection would make it difficult to collaborate, and do some serious harm to company culture. We saw that employees might have laptops but might be laying in their beds. Transferring data over unsafe connections was also a challenge. We created a Work From Home Solution called KMC CASA to address these needs. Basically, we wanted to provide adequate and well designed workspace, solid internet connection, VPN and hardware if needed as well as access to the flexible office spaces that we have all over the Philippines. Collaborative space, training rooms, boardrooms are accessible. It’s in line with our Hub and Spoke model that allows for a distributed workforce. It’s something we are seeing as necessary as transportation is an issue in the transition back to work.
We are always listening hard for what clients need and trying to address that need in a creative way. We will see a lot of changes in the next coming months, and likely a lot of volatility before we find some stability. I enjoy the convenience of working from home but I’ve always thought that you need a place to work that inspires you even if that is just aesthetically. It should aspirational.