By David Wanjala
A storm looms in the real estate, especially in the retail and office space segments of the sector. A struggling business long before the advent of the devastating global health pandemic due to oversupply against low occupancy, the sector is now on its knees. This is so especially with the Covid-19 battered economy that has not only affected the masses’ purchasing power, but that has also induced change to the reining social norms.
Man has had to change ways, to reinvent to survive the pandemic, especially the health protocols that mainly took away long enjoyed freedoms, particularly of movement and association. As such, trends that have been taking shape gradually over a period of time heightened their arrival.
Shopping online, for instance, leapfrogged into a handy necessity from the luxury of a few tech-savvy individuals that it had been for a long time. With the proliferation of affordable smartphones, many people have resorted to getting their utilities online, not only out of the need to adhere to Government imposed health protocols, but also out self discipline in trying to avoid unnecessary exposures to the deadly virus. Retailers have since jumped onto the bandwagon by turning their extra bedrooms into merchandise stores as big players hire stores and godowns in affordable sites and market online through social media and apps and deliver directly to clients in efforts to cut on shop rents. It is a trend that will not only stick, but that will also grow rapidly long after the pandemic.
But the huge one is the office-sharing phenomenon. It is catching on like fire. Firms are setting up office spaces with essential amenities including wi fi, work station, kitchen and lavatories where individuals, especially those who do not need office space around the clock in a month can go to and work for a fee. This really ticks for those, like marketers, techies, journalists, PR practitioners, field officers who work remotely most of the time and may need an office space, say, once or twice a week.
It is catching on. Companies are too joining the bandwagon by paying for space for some of their workers on need basis rather than incurring monthly or quarterly prohibitive rent costs for office spaces that are hardly utilized.
With the work from home craze picking up in the pandemic period, sharing of office space will be the next big thing post pandemic, the game changer in the office space segment of the real estate market and developers had better start thinking of how they will adapt and survive.