Headlines blaring “unprecedented” this and “uncertain” that have dominated the news over the past year and a half.
But when we take a step back from the Covid coalface in the months and years to come, those won’t be the words we use to describe what has taken place. As in the aftermath of any downturn or crisis, the word we will be using is “change”. And change is no bad thing.
I’m not trying to downplay what we’ve collectively been through. The pandemic has, of course, been horrendous. But with the government’s announcement this week that the 19 July “Freedom Day” is still on the cards, we can finally start to really interrogate the changes the industry has made and still faces coming out of the crisis.
In some cases, the changes businesses expected to make have themselves changed. New data from Savills, for instance, shows that London office occupiers who made the “knee-jerk” decision in the early days of WFH to make chunks of their offices available to sublet are U-turning and taking that space back for themselves.
Offices will look different post-Covid, but the big change is going to be in how people use space, not whether they use it. For one, employers, landlords and developers are going to have to rethink the amount of space they allocate per person.
If occupiers lean into de-densification, as anticipated, this could have far reaching implications for office providers – particularly those in the flexible workspace market whose business models are built on squeezing as many people into offices as possible. Change for them could require a complete overhaul of how they operate.
There are a lot of changes still to be made in other sectors too – as Redrow boss Matthew Pratt tells Property Week, the housebuilding sector has a long way to go to make its homes and its businesses more ESG friendly.
And for me, the big change in the past few years was unexpectedly falling for the real estate sector and the career change I’m now about to embark on because of it. I joined Property Week three years ago to write for a prestigious title, renowned for its high-quality journalism. And I found that.
What I was less prepared for was the excitement, determination and genuine passion of property people, who are (for the most part) committed to creating wonderful places for people to live, work and play in.
This sector has changes it still needs to make, but I believe it is going to make them – and I plan to help them from the other side of the fence.
This will be my last issue with Property Week before I leave the magazine to join build-to-rent developer and operator Moda. It’s been a rollercoaster three years with Liz and the amazing PW team and I am excited to see what this important title does next.
So this change, at least, is less of a goodbye and more of a hello. I can’t wait to get started!