At the beginning of a new year and decade, property’s leading lights reveal their hopes, expectations and resolutions for 2020 in the second of a two-part special.
Chief executive, Soho Housing
I expect a hard Brexit but the UK will thrive with sector pricing reflecting the new confidence, and I hope we use the experience to unite as a nation.
We will see a backlash against online shopping giants as we increasingly reflect on the social consequences of our struggling high streets and the carbon footprint of multitudinous deliveries.
With an increasing focus on climate change threats reinforced by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion and the appalling fires in Australia, I hope there will be increasing calls for greater regulatory action in the UK to mitigate the environmental impact of the way we live.
Resolutions: To swim under Victoria Falls.
Chief executive, CO-RE
My hope is that there will be a burst of collaborative spirit to heal some wounds and a renewed recognition of London’s global importance, as illustrated by the current occupier boom, and the capital’s importance.
My expectation is more surprises! However, I fully expect the CO-RE team will continue to grow following our move to our new HQ and as we work on some of the biggest workplace schemes in London.
Resolutions: As CEO of CO-RE and president of the City Property Association, I want to continue to inspire the next generation about the great industry we work in.
Senior partner, Workman
I hope that we, as an industry, can really make some headway in reducing our collective carbon footprint. At Workman, we are looking at how we can help clients achieve net-zero-carbon targets.
I also hope that the UK retail sector will level out and that owners, investors and local authorities work together on placemaking strategies to create successful retail and leisure destinations for their communities and businesses alike.
I expect placemaking, wellbeing and ESG to rise up the agenda for investors. The ways we address vacant and unprofitable spaces will be critical to de-risking assets for our clients. Helping our clients to deliver alternative use strategies through retrofit and refurbishment requires a critical and thoughtful approach.
Property managers need to be on the front foot in leading the evolution of the UK’s workspaces, while delivering the fundamental services that ensure occupier satisfaction and retention. The measures that can align with and bring significant benefit to a landlord’s total risk profile will be the yardstick by which effective and accountable property management is judged.
Resolutions: To champion employee physical and mental wellbeing. We made great progress at Workman in 2019, starting with committing to the Time to Change pledge, which cements our commitment to ensuring our people have access to the right support when they need it and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.
There is always more we can do, but I’m so proud of employees who have asked for help, shared their experiences and provided support to others. Personally and professionally, the subject of wellbeing is close to my heart.
For flexible workspace, 2019 was a particularly exciting year. However, the traditional commercial property industry is yet to fully embrace this model.
It is my hope that building owners will recognise the true potential of their space and seek partnerships that strike the right balance between expertise, product appeal and profitability.
Space as a service is likely to be a defining theme for the commercial property industry in 2020, building on its raised profile in the last 12 months.
The trend is key to providing tenants with a blend of products to meet their ever-changing demands, where buildings will offer a variety of products, from flexible workspace through to co-working membership models, along with facilities such as recreational areas, gyms, restaurants and daycare.
This model may become a cornerstone of local regeneration and repurposing, whereby empty spaces on the high street can be turned into flexible workspace, perfect for small businesses looking to grow close to amenities and transport links.
We are already seeing evidence of this where some local councils are investing in opportunities both on their own assets and alongside private owners. We expect other councils to adopt this strategy as they see the benefits of flexible workspace for local businesses.
Resolutions: To be more engaged with wellbeing both within the workspace environment and personally with friends and family.
Chief executive, Carter Jonas
I hope uncertainty gives way to a more positive mood, with the politicians being able to focus again on issues other than Brexit. Generally, these issues go beyond party politics, and I would hope that government consults those in business and across communities to ensure that the initiatives not only reach their target but do so in a timely way.
Part of my ‘expectation’ for 2020 mirrors my ‘hope’ for 2020, in that I do consider a stronger government makes it more likely that a radical programme of reform will be pursued.
I also expect the standards under which businesses operate to be subject to greater scrutiny. For example, satisfaction with ESG performance standards is an ever-increasing requirement of investors across all property sectors and is also now an important consideration in tenders for work. I expect ESG criteria to be increasingly integrated into businesses.
Resolutions: To build more time for physical exercise into my daily routine! Professionally, to continue to develop our business, creating further opportunities for our people to develop their careers with us and, in so doing, further improving our overall diversity.
Managing partner, Montagu Evans
As an industry, I hope we think hard about our purpose in society, finding new ways to create the places we need to bring communities together in genuinely sustainable ways.
We already have some of the best-educated, best-resourced and most entrepreneurial people, many of whom will go on to help solve the many challenges society faces – including in the built environment. We must invest in and nurture this potential further, welcoming anyone, from anywhere in the world, who is motivated and able to add value.
I expect government to step up investment in infrastructure across the country to support and facilitate town centre regeneration, more affordable high-quality housing, and growth in business investment.
More private sector capital, much of it from Asia, will be channelled into the UK, particularly into London, including a significant allocation towards property development. We should embrace it.
Technology will continue to revolutionise our world, supporting and disrupting ways of working and transforming the way spaces are used and how they are connected.
The RICS and valuers will reflect on what has happened in the world of audit and open-ended funds and play their part in rebuilding business and public confidence.
ESG considerations will take on ever-more relevance and the environment and climate will rise further up the agenda, impacting nearly all business decisions.
Resolutions: To think big but also stay focused. Our business is about deep expertise and that needs nurturing. Personally, to use email less and talk more. Keep skiing!
2020 vision: predictions for the year ahead
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2020 vision: predictions for the year ahead (part 12)