After a tumultuous 2020, property’s leading figures share their hopes and expectations for 2021 as the year gets off to a rocky start with yet another lockdown. 

Patrick O'Gorman

Patrick O’Gorman

Principal, Bywater Properties

Philosopher Noam Chomsky once said that optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Certainly, this bleak period has been challenging but it has also thrown us the incentive to focus on new business paradigms and to make the world we live and work in better for all of us.

For Bywater, it has strengthened our abilities as a team, as creators, problem-solvers, innovators and campaigners. We have collectively become more resilient.

Most importantly, we’re determined to address the environmental issues that should guide future development.

I hope we continue to inspire our design teams and consultant experts to come up with even better ways to build and refurbish with reduced carbon emissions. Our responsibility to limit further damage to the planet is key to our modus operandi.

I hope to be onsite in London building our carbon-neutral Paradise office project and we continue Belfast city centre’s regeneration through our Smithfield Yard project. Both schemes feature an ecosystem of workspaces and we hope they will create healthy, innovative and inspiring places of work.

A final wish is to have more time together face-to-face – we need to enjoy the highs and ride out the lows as a team in the same room.

 Ikenna Nweke

Head of sales UK and Ireland, Office App

It’s my sincere hope that the office sector will be more customer-focused, fit-for-purpose and flexible than it was before.

The challenges presented by the pandemic accelerated many of the changes for which corporate tenants have been crying out for years, such as greater flexibility and the adoption of new technologies to serve their employees. Don’t expect that evolution to slow down in 2021.

With workforces combining the best of home-working and office-based working, landlords and asset managers will be working hard to ensure that their products are relevant for this brave new world. Those that create flexible and technology-focused workplaces will be the winners in 2021 and beyond.”

Federica Buricco, Associate, CallisonRTKL (1)

Federica Buricco

Associate, CallisonRTKL

Though the pandemic has lingered longer than many of us expected, it has afforded us greater time for reflection. Having reassessed ourselves, the lives we lead and our impact on the world around us, we enter 2021 at an inflection point and with the choice to build something better, more social, soulful and regenerative.

In the path cleared by the pandemic, we will see more dynamic mixed-use urban solutions, regenerative designs that repurpose existing assets from commercial space to car parks, as well as new ecological systems. Bettering both our people and our planet, these will bring forward self-sufficient cities and walkable neighbourhoods that promote resilience.

Key to this will be an investment in the upgrade of critical infrastructure, including housing, transit, water, energy, healthcare, internet accessibility and natural assets protection, along with the reduction of our carbon footprint.

In the year to come, definition around new metrics will help guide decision making toward these ambitions, with insights offered into the evolution of ecosystems and their interaction with people. From happiness to cleanliness, the built environment’s performance will be valued differently as ESG adds new dimensions to commercial interests.

David Delaney

David Delaney

Group chief executive, IPSX

Thanks to what looks like the start of an effective vaccination programme, we should start to see a road to recovery, with many sectors that were badly hit last year bouncing back once the latest lockdown ends.

We expect a significant pick up on GDP growth as consumers and business catch up on the spending delayed in 2020. Statistics suggest the consumer savings rate increased markedly in 2020 and we expect to see this pent-up demand relieved through a major increase in consumption. Therefore, growth and corporate profits should be strong.

Thanks to president-elect Joe Biden, the world will feel a calmer place but also a more environmentally focused one.

The arrival of TCFD reporting for some in 2022 and increased UK government focus will ensure this theme remains front and centre for investors and thus asset owners.

This may translate into a degree of panic for some asset owners as they start to contemplate their assets becoming ‘stranded’ for ESG reasons. This will drive investors to seek more transparency in their investments.

Much of the discussions about the future of real estate that took place in 2020 will be put into effect in 2021. As corporates’ profits grow, so will their actions to effect change. For example, the ‘future of the office’ will, we expect, be much clearer in December 2021.

Continue to part 16 here

Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope