Even though other industries have been largely disrupted by technology (think Facebook, Uber, Netflix and Spotify), for a long time, the real estate market had no real pressure to quickly innovate, implement technologies or even conceive a digital strategy. This great paradox pushed me to introduce the benefits of technology to the industry, and since the beginning, we have had a chance to visit and speak at the PropTech events around the world. 

From nice to need 
Then 2020 came. The COVID-19 crisis has completely changed the perception and need for technology in every part of our lives and this time, including real estate. What does this mean for us?

1. Buildings have to adapt to the new reality – we all must ensure we live and work in safe and healthy environments. Tech can help to facilitate this with touchless endpoints, occupancy monitoring, air quality data, access to real-time information and more. 
2. Landlords need to approach occupiers more closely and make data-driven decisions. One example could be building relationships via digital communication methods and implementing tenant satisfaction surveys to improve the occupier experience.
3. New opportunities in post-COVID life, such as managing spaces as a service, introducing features that attract tenants, supporting flexible leases, and bringing in new sources of revenue when traditional ones get cut.

On top of that, tenants now expect fully integrated products and best-in-class support. Believing that landlords can expect challenging times in 2021 and beyond is an understatement.

At Spaceflow, we have learned that digital transformation is a process and clients need complete support in that journey. The results are oftentimes not visible overnight, but to bring long-term value, you need to have a strong foundation to build on. The same applies to the landlord-tenant relationship. I believe that the foundation for every building, whether it's an office, residential, or mixed-use project, is integrating data, technology, and people. So tenant experience platforms are quickly transforming from a nice-to-have (2019) to a need-to-have (2021). 

To all the buildings out there, are you ready to face today's needs and expectations?

I have been fortunate to experience firsthand the growth of PropTech over the past half decade. Nowadays, operators have tech solutions to practically the entire building cycle. In tenant-facing operations, that means single-use cases such as access systems, occupancy monitoring via IoT sensors, energy monitoring, tenant CRMs, and facility management tools. But to really have a strong value proposition, your solution needs to play a role in the entire building ecosystem.

All buildings out there need one operating system for their occupiers. Occupiers shouldn’t be expected to have to jump between multiple apps to be able to use their space effectively. Therefore, tenant experience platforms have evolved as the main building integrator, and now play a critical role as an umbrella for almost every use case you could find in a building. This is where the digital journey starts. 

Imagine renting an apartment or office. The whole process starts by signing a contract within the experience platform, which grants you immediate access to the entire building community. From there, the tenant experience platform allows you to open doors seamlessly with your phone without the need to use keycards, book a parking spot, invite a visitor, monitor your energy and water consumption, easily report issues to the landlord, order cleaning services, pay your rent, and even terminate the contract. The whole journey, your life in the building, in one place. Just think about how many buildings have none of these processes digitized.

It's said that the first step is the hardest, but the rest is an amazing adventure. I believe every building in the world should consider this first ONE step in 2021 and implement a digital layer for occupiers. It’s time to leave the property inefficiencies of the past behind and create environments we all love to spend time in.

Is your building up to date? 

Material by Lukas Balik, co-founder and CEO, Spaceflow.

Spaceflow is a tenant engagement app platform that helps asset owners increase asset value, unlock new revenue sources and become data-driven. Spaceflow is already implemented in Romania in the SkyTower office building in Bucharest, through Online Real Assets, Spaceflow partner in Romania.