Spring is with us, and bringing with it a renewed sense of optimism across the real estate sectors. Just over a year ago, the first lockdown had hit and we were squirrelled away in our homes trying to navigate the countless challenges of keeping deals and businesses moving without physically being in the same room as each other.

Emma Shone

Emma Shone

Twelve months on and the picture is rather different. Not only has the industry overcome the logistical challenges that have been thrown at it, but in many cases it has grabbed adversity by the horns and taken the opportunity to evolve how it operates.

The essays in this issue of Perspectives showcase just a few of the things new technology will allow businesses operating in different spaces to do, coming out of Covid-19 and far into the future. Take essensys’ new Flex Services Platform, which it launched this year despite the pandemic and will continue to add to for the remainder of this year and beyond. Its chief product and technology officer, James Shannon, writes that while there was already a building trend of tenants looking for more flexible office solutions, the pandemic has accelerated this as businesses look to agile working in the wake of the WFH year.

The need for flexibility comes with a new set of complexities. How do you make sure people don’t all show up at the office on the same day if you have reduced capacity? How do you encourage the right collaboration? How do you keep the office experience seamless? Platforms like essensys’ are solving these problems, because time is of the essence. “For landlords and occupiers alike, it is not a question of if, or when, they can deliver flexible real estate solutions,” writes Shannon. “Rather, it is a question of how — and how fast.”

Yardi regional director Justin Harley also writes about the ways in which technology is creating seamless experiences for operators and end customers alike in the residential sector. The key to harnessing it, he says, is to minimise the number of systems you have on the go, and to examine how data is shared and used between different investors and operators.

After a year of businesses looking to each other to see how they were handling the unprecedented days of lockdowns, his point resonates. As we emerge blinking into the spring sun, it is a good time to reflect on what we have learned about each other and ourselves during this challenging year, and how we can use those lessons to build on our futures.

Emma Shone is news editor at Property Week