Space as a Service: The New State of Real Estate

All, Miscellaneous, Realty

For as long as it has existed, real estate has been about transacting a piece of land for a purpose. Be it for families to have a secure roof over their heads, or for companies to have a communal and organized space to churn work out of employees, or for patrons to sit down for a meal at an establishment, space has always been a product. Today, while traditional buying and selling of real estate exist, one would be remiss to not notice it dwindling. With the rising cost of real estate as a factor and the entire notion of land ownership being questioned, we are noticing a steady but swift change. What is changing now is the expectation from land – it is no longer static.

 

What does this mean? In the age of digitization and hyper-movement, real estate is no longer about buying and selling of land or space, it is now becoming a dynamic service. Due to the prevalence of technology and IoT (Internet of Things), it is no longer mandatory for brick and mortar buildings in order to consume a product. In a manner of speaking, the world is going more along the lines of ‘pay as you go'. There are no more massive investments required in order to fulfill a need, and it is now about experiencing space as a service rather than a product. Which leads to the term, ‘space as a service'.

 

Two phenomena are occurring parallelly: products are moving to services and ownership is transitioning to access. People are less concerned about accumulating more things and more concerned with being provided with services, experiences, and transient pleasures. Case in point – Netflix for movies, Airbnb for accommodation and Uber for transportation. The world is becoming more on-demand, and the real estate industry is no different. This has a lot to do with the change in hoarding mentality and considering fixed assets as the prime source of security, and the grown-up version of the popular phrase ‘you only live once'. In fact, the entire work culture is evolving. People are changing the way they do their best work - they prefer convenient productivity over regimented SOPs. That is to say, the nature of work in itself is changing, in large part thanks to technology.

 

Technology, and the convenience that it lends consumers are contributing to the transition of the standard office to move beyond ‘a spreadsheet', where desks are lined up and in a systematic grid and everyone is in their cubicle holed up doing structured, predictable work. Remote working is on the rise, where employers are now beginning to understand the benefits of ‘work beyond walls'. The new generation of workers, in particular, isn't one to be policed - many expect the flexibility in working conditions and are well aware that options exist. In fact, this generation factors flexible working conditions while considering a job offer.

 

The above points in totality point to this: it is the time for all real estate owners to pivot from a model of real estate as a means for filling space and collecting rent, to building an untraditional office or apartment complex that focus more on relationships and experiences – including engaging tenants, supporting the human side of business and living and building a community, while monetizing their space to offer services to their tenants. Building a community here isn't simply limited to gatherings – you need to create evangelists for your brand. That's right, for real estate to thrive in this pay-as-you-go stage, it needs to consistently display values in the way it creates experiences for its tenants, thereby creating a solid brand.

 

Is your brand ready to make it in this new space as a service world?