Real estate leaders: Are you still scrambling to find your footing?

We feel you.

In the second week of March 2020, the world came to a standstill—including the real estate world.

From our perspective, it felt as if the industry paused, tilted on its axis, and then started revolving again at double speed.

Recovery in this environment requires agility, or the ability to move readily and quickly with nimbleness and dexterity.

But as a property owner or operator rebuilding post-pandemic, where do you begin? How do you cope with the changes? What opportunities lie ahead?

Seeking answers to those questions, we partnered with the folks at Community Management Today, which recently wrapped up its first-ever virtual Smart Built Environment Forum.

In virtual form, the event was… different, yet still amazing, connecting 800+ professionals from all four pillars of the built community—Property Management, Community Management, Facilities Management, and PropTech.

While networking, working the floor, and making connections, we learned a lot. Here are the top five things we took away from #SBEF2020, things that will help you become more agile and take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead in 2021.

1. Buildings with a strong tech infrastructure fared far better in the pandemic than buildings without.

In almost all cases, the pandemic drove people out of offices and commercial buildings and into their homes. But those properties inevitably had to or will soon reopen, hauling with them a laundry list of new SOPs and compliance regulations.

What we’re seeing is that, on one hand, property ops teams in buildings without a strong digital foundation flounder.

And no wonder—it’s overwhelming trying to create and maintain paper logs and Excel spreadsheets that track things like visitor travel history, indoor air quality (IAQ), and sanitization routines.

On the other hand, teams in buildings that had already invested in smart digital foundations are meeting the challenge of reopening with agility, head-on. For those nimble teams, reopening has been far smoother, as everything from visitor travel history and indoor air quality to sanitization routines and remote systems monitoring sits on the extending arm of robust technology.

2. Sustainability has two facets, and you need to focus equally on both.

Now that the pandemic is (almost) over, eyes are turning back to environmental goals. Building experts recommend that now is the time to focus equally on two facets of sustainability:

  • Sustainability in business
  • Sustainability in building operations

You probably already know that leaders who adopt sustainability in their building operations have a greater probability of business success. The word on the floor at the Forum was that by adding tech to the equation, your chances of success soar, as tech-driven sustainability solutions better address climate goals, which in turn positively impact the business.

Bottom line?

Train your eye equally on both facets of sustainability.

A focus on just one may lead the other to fail.

3. There’s no reason to struggle with pressing issues like COVID-19 constraints, remote monitoring, and IAQ when digital solutions exist.

If you’re a real estate owner or operator slogging along with legacy systems and reactive operations models, ask yourself… why?

It’s been known for years that the benefits of adopting digital solutions for property operations far outweigh any perceived drawbacks.

Now, with COVID-19 thrown into the mix, there’s even more to navigate, and more of a reason to give yourself the gift of agility, especially as you seek to fully reopen.

That’s why we created REbuild. REbuild helps REbuild as you reopen, giving you newfound agility and resiliency along with tech-driven operations and a neatly laid out recovery strategy. With the technology, you can set up and manage, for instance, automated disinfection and deep-cleaning routines across a portfolio, touchless entry and wellness tracking, and IAC and HVAC compliance—plus all of the features and functions you needed pre-COVID.

Bottom line? Reopening need not be a chore. It may, in fact, be the best time to add agility and tech-driven ops to your portfolio.

4. Operational silos are the REAL roadblock to agility.

By design, building operations have always been fragmented because of silos in building systems, different software, and properties encompassing different buildings.

This fragmentation has led to a lack of operational visibility, something experts agree is a major tax on productivity and agility.

That’s why progressive FMs and real estate leaders champion creating a single, connected, operational environment that delivers a seamless experience.

We agree!

Although the pandemic has been bad news for the industry, it has also allowed for growth by leaps and bounds in digital solutions that can make you nimble, agile, and efficient while ending your operational silos.

Bottom line? Today’s technology can give you visibility and a sense of nimbleness, and make your operational silos a thing of the past.

5. Want to differentiate? Provide a frictionless experience and high-quality service.

What are your millennial occupants after?

You might at first think safety, security, great curb appeal, clean spaces—all of which are mere entry points for today’s properties.

Millennial occupants also demand smart buildings and frictionless service, areas of customer satisfaction measured in terms of responsiveness and resolution effectiveness.

One sure-shot way to achieve high marks in those areas—and to differentiate your properties from competing alternatives—is to deploy data-driven solutions that give you real-time visibility and control of portfolio operations. That visibility and control, in turn, will enable you to make smart decisions and meet customers on their terms.

Bottom line? Millennials expect high tech—even in their buildings. And that tech is out there, waiting for you.

Looking forward into 2021…

The pandemic brought out the best in the real estate community. Property owners and managers around the globe put forth their best efforts to curb the spread and ensure the safety of occupants.

As we moved through 2020, unsure of where the next month would take us, we witnessed a shift in the primary model of property operations from reactive and traditional to proactive and data-driven. FMs and real estate operators who want to win in 2021’s market conditions will look to technology and digital innovation as strategic partners.

The Smart Built Environment Forum highlighted all that the built community has already achieved and how much more there is to look forward to. The virtual format provided a wonderful way to meet everyone and discovery new industry developments.

We look forward to next year’s event and another year of steady growth!