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Nov 27, 2013

Business and Workplace – lots to do!


What links, if any, exist between Business and the UK’s Property/Workplace sector?

Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss this with James Max, broadcaster and media commentator, who, like me, started life as a chartered surveyor. Given his early career at DTZ, Morgan Stanley and Doughty Hanson and his current role in the media, it was interesting to exchange views on the nature of the relationship between the two sectors. We concluded that there is considerable room for improvement.

It’s difficult for those outside the industry, to understand the operational intricacies of the world of property and workplace. The UK industry is full of acronyms, complexity and jargon. Indeed, for the uninitiated, it can be quite daunting to pinpoint just how property markets function and who holds the strings. Matters are further confounded by the generally negative perception which is held of the Developer. This creates a challenging landscape for Property/Workplace in the UK.

It seems that there is a big disconnect. Clearly, for most property folk, their focus is on securing a satisfactory and rapid return on investment from their property portfolios and schemes. While Business tends to view their premises and workplace environments as factors of production, I was prompted to challenge this perception:

  • Why should anyone care?
  • Does it matter if the supply side doesn’t understand the demand side and vice versa?
  • Is there value in stepping back to consider the relationship between supply and demand?
  • Why re-write the established relationship between Landlord and Tenant, based on an Act of Parliament in 1954 which has stood the test of time?

So, how will this play out in the years ahead? Personally, these considerations, as we move into the second half of the Digital Revolution, set me wondering about the future. Significant changes are taking place in where and how people work. There are numerous examples of agile working but one of the most striking for me is how the Australian Retail Banking sector has embraced Activity Based Working, see my blog Smart Spaces Aussie Style.
We’re all experiencing change, at the moment – and it’s not going away! One of the big issues running through my mind is how business itself is changing. We now see the enormous shift in power from the producer to the consumer, underpinned by the use of social media. I wonder if we will see this occur in the world of commercial bricks and mortar? Watch this space to see how this plays out…..

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