Editor: It is encouraging to see PBSA adopting more flexible leasing arrangements in order to accommodate different course lengths and formats and address the increased uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
In line with this, landlords and operators should bear in mind that technology will underpin greater flexibility in the market during the pandemic and beyond, as well as ensuring that student needs are fully met.
Robust, reliable and secure connectivity is crucial for students who will increasingly be taking courses online, with video conferencing requiring particularly heavy use of data. In fact, research has shown that digital-native Millennials and Generation Zers see technology offerings as fundamental to success.
In a study by Octopus Real Estate, a quarter of high-achieving final-year student respondents said technology influenced their choice of accommodation.
Compare this with the commercial real estate sector, where 72% of tenants believe unconnected spaces will become obsolete in the near future, while offices certified by WiredScore on connectivity can charge a 5% rent ‘digital premium’. In a post-Covid-19 world, PBSA providers looking to navigate uncertainty ahead should take note.
Over the coming months, PBSA operators also have a greater responsibility than ever to keep students and staff safe, healthy and secure. Systems such as contactless access controls, digital check-in, self-service parcel collection and virtual maintenance assistance can be important tools to make this possible and reassure residents and their families that facilities are ‘Covid-compliant‘.
With technology being increasingly important for students, developers should make it a key part of PBSA project plans as we look beyond Covid-19.
Richard Morris, director, technologywithin