All areas of life are enriched by our digital connections, from our relationships with family and friends to the way we interact with colleagues and service providers. 

Jeremy Heath-Smith

Jeremy Heath-Smith

It was technology that helped us to survive lockdown by providing a lifeline to the outside world – and it will continue to be of vital importance as we look cautiously but hopefully towards a post-pandemic future.

Some things will never be the same again – in particular the popularity of a flexible, hybrid approach to working from both home and office – and it’s no surprise that developers are under pressure to deliver homes that meet these changing needs. Residents are, quite rightly, demanding more, not only from their homes but from their everyday spaces, and developers must invest in infrastructure networks that take into account these factors.

While bricks-and-mortar retail has continued to suffer from the competition posed by online shopping, there are glimmers of hope – especially where retailers fully realise the value of building relationships with local customers. The popularity of shopping locally soared during the early stages of the pandemic, and showed no signs of abating even during periods of relative normality. Initiatives such as Small Business Saturday, Fiver Fest and local delivery services are helping smaller businesses compete with the larger players while offering the more personal, tailored service that younger customers in particular value immensely.

Developers, which are increasingly employing tech to help create connected, 24/7 neighbourhoods, can also play a part in supporting local high streets by facilitating communication.

Residents are demanding more, not only from their homes but from everyday spaces

Resident portals such as Spike Living, which can be accessed from a mobile device, give online access to all the facilities of a building – from booking a slot at the gym to arranging for the concierge to take in a parcel – but they also offer the facility for residents to connect with services beyond their apartment.

Developers and build-to-rent providers really harnessed the power of tech during the pandemic – we saw our Spike Living portal being used to connect neighbours with virtual clubs and social events, providing vital human contact during lockdown. As the portal caters exclusively for building residents, it offers a safer alternative to groups on Facebook or Nextdoor, which are more easily infiltrated by spammers, helping people to make truly local new friends.

The portal also helped residents connect with services in the immediate area, from wellness providers to cleaners, supporting local businesses through difficult times.

That same tech now offers incredible scope for high street retailers to build lasting relationships with residents. Spike Living enables developers and retailers to work together to offer added value, from discounts for residents to priority offers, VIP evenings and more.

At Spike, we have always championed the importance of community engagement, but what we’re seeing now is a shift from it being a luxury to a necessity. In the long-awaited post-pandemic world, we expect to see tech becoming the foundation of daily life for residents and businesses alike.

Jeremy Heath-Smith is chief executive at Spike Global