When real estate goes hand in hand with flexibility

Jeff Bezos, founder of the global online trading giant Amazon, is regularly upset that his interviewers never ask him the right question. If everyone wants to know how retail will change over the next 10 or 20 years, he does not hesitate to correct them by telling them that this question is irrelevant. The only question of real value is wondering what will not change. It is clear that by understanding a human being’s basic needs – shelter, clothing, trade, socialising, etc. – we can build stable business models, even if it means performing “creative destruction” by destroying some old practices along the way.

Philippe Boyer, Director of Innovation, Covivio

In real estate, as in other economic sectors, this principle holds true. Although we must certainly invent the buildings and services for the future, it is equally important to focus on the current needs of customers, whether expressed or not. In this regard, a single word sums up these new demands that are transforming the real estate sector: flexibility.

As a result of the collaborative economy, new technologies, the emergence of new generations and the breakthrough of innovative start-ups, real estate players must be at the forefront of these changes to develop their offerings by incorporating these increasing demands for flexibility. Whether this takes shape in new ways of designing spaces so that occupants can interact better with one another, through the deployment of new services or even the development of entirely redesigned commercial services, real estate players are being transformed to become simultaneously – let’s dare to use the new expressions – “designers of services” or even “conductors of the user experience”.

Fortuitously, this reinvention of real estate functions coincides with the tremendous development of technologies that can connect almost anything. When “empathetic buildings” become a reality – in other words a connected building that knows almost all the lifestyle habits of its occupants – these buildings of the future will adapt to the needs of their occupants. In becoming a quasi-transparent object, thanks to the knowledge gained from data collected about its uses, the status of a building will change – from being a simple “production tool” it will become a “relationship tool”. It is a genuine revolution that is perfectly suited to this quest for new uses and the ongoing need for real estate to go hand in hand with flexibility.