To gauge the importance of digital connectivity to the Italian workforce, we partnered with Opinium to conduct an insightful piece of research.
We discovered that 74% of Italian office workers see the quality of internet connectivity as a major deciding factor as to whether they’ll return to the office, once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
Further insights from the research revealed that connectivity is now on a par with location when it comes to a tenant choosing a new office space, as internet connectivity came out as the most important aspect of a good working environment. The launch also played host to a lively panel discussion on the topic of in-building connectivity, focussing on how real estate can harness Italy’s digital potential and evolve to meet occupiers’ changing needs.
The panelists (Stefania Campagna – Head of Office Agency, CBRE, Stefano Corbella – Sustainability Officer, COIMA, Eden Dwek – Head of Global Expansion, WiredScore, Cristiano Ronchi – Head of Italy, Savills IM, Simone Santi – Head of Offices, Lendlease) covered a broad range of topics, from the driving forces behind the necessity for better connection, to emerging tech trends and their impact upon real estate.
COVID-19 was quickly identified as a significant driving force behind our need to be better-connected. Our recent inability to travel to the office highlighted just how reliant on good connectivity the working world is, and, for the first time in decade “landlords and developers have been able to reimagine the office” Eden Dwek.
In order to maintain business as usual, the mass working-from-home movement has accelerated tenant demand for better in-building connectivity. To better-support the remote workforce, cloud computing has been identified as an emerging tech trend, as “the benefits are very clear: 38% of businesses currently use the cloud – it’s here to stay, and we need to prepare for it.” Henry Pethybridge.
So, what does this mean for real estate? When it comes to future-proofing “flexibility is the future of design and real estate in general… If we have the correct technology within our buildings, we can adapt the design of the building to ensure it appropriately responds to the user’s needs” Simone Santi.
In essence, those landlords who fail to implement the proper technology to support tenants’ needs, run the risk of their buildings becoming obsolete. As Cristiano Ronchi succinctly put it: “It’s clear that the market is setting certain requirements and demand, and if you don’t meet the demand, you’re out of the market.”
Another tech trend set to impact real estate is the emergence of 5G. On average, we all have up to seven connected digital devices. As those devices migrate to use the 5G network, landlords and developers are going to have to provide the infrastructure that supports their tenants’ ever-evolving technological demands.
The panel also brought to light a significant reimagining of office space as a whole, as the way we interact with, and use, the office has changed dramatically.
Offices are now seen as talent attraction tools, as the workplace itself comes to embody the “corporate brand” Stefania Campagna. Landlords that provide inspirational spaces will appeal to tenants looking to incorporate their office into their overall brand.
The Italian market recognises the importance of digital connectivity beyond the office, so the panel explored the concept of a connectivity ecosystem that operates throughout the built environment.
Now, a development considers its own digital connectivity and that of its surrounding area: ““When we build a project of a certain size, we can influence the neighbourhood’s connectivity.” Stefano Corbella.
One point upon which all panelists were in agreement was: those buildings able to prove themselves as digitally versatile will have the greatest chance of attracting and retaining tenants in the future. If the future of real estate depends on anything, it’s the built environment’s ability to predict, and adapt to, an ever-increasing demand for better space, better service and better connectivity.