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Reopening Brings Back Old Faces but With New Habits

October 26, 2021
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CBRE, a leading international property consultant, found that as business operations gradually resume with the easing in restrictions from the government, activities will start to flow back into real estate. Yet, they are back with a paradigm shift, influenced heavily by how they have been living for the past year and a half which is a long enough period for people’s long-term behaviors to change. As we reopen our doors to welcome customers or tenants, we can expect to see old faces that come with a new set of demands.

For the residential sector, many people have been spending their entire 24 hours at home for most of the pandemic period. This has made many details within a residential unit, whether in a condominium or in a house, become much more important. The space which was once advertised as “flexible space” at home will no longer be overlooked as just empty space. This will be more focused whether it could be used as a proper “home office”, separated from distractions and with proper set up for efficient working from home habits. The kitchen area will also be more important as some have realized that they are actually a decent chef during lockdown.

“New designs of next-normal houses will place greater emphasis on study rooms, family rooms, kids’ rooms, kitchens and storage space. Pets have become more popular as well as sports. There is increasing demand for pet-friendly projects and more emphasis for sports related facilities including gyms, bicycle lanes, jogging tracks, swimming pools, etc. Also, once sales galleries are fully open, the salespeople will have to up their game for the more sophisticated buyers,” said Mr. Rathawat Kuvijitrsuwan, Head of Research and Consulting, CBRE Thailand.

For the retail sector, the traffic that will be slowly returning is no longer the same crowd that used to enter your stores two years ago. Demand has changed, and with that, shopping habits have also drastically changed. The health and wellness lifestyle is a practice clearly seen as vital in the next normal with its impact on consumer demand for goods and services.

“It is clear that the F&B businesses will be forced to adapt to the booming food delivery services, but other businesses will see no less impact. The couch-and-streaming combination, for example, has a significant impact on how movie-goers look at theaters now that they are more comfortable watching at home in their pajamas. Will IT play a more important role in your retail tenant mix? Will outdoor or indoor sport apparels become more popular? Will makeup and cosmetics sell as good as skincare? These are some of the questions that retailers will face,” Mr. Rathawat added.

Office is another sector that will see a great change both physically and mentally. Based on CBRE Research’s Future of Office Survey in 2021, there has been a significant shift in how companies look at the hybrid working model compared to the results in 2020. From over a hundred respondents of multinational companies in Asia Pacific, only 26% said that employees will be coming back to work full-time in offices, compared to 37% in the previous year.

“Adoption of working from home urges corporates to rethink the designs of their new offices and to focus on staff engagement and collaboration. This means that how space inside the office is used will change and new space that encourages collaboration will also be more emphasized,” Mr. Rathawat commented.

Reopening of businesses will require a lot of changes from the service providers’ side to meet with the changes in behaviors of the customers. Learning how to deal with the “next normal” will be key. However, as the situation is still uncertain and could change within less than a week, Plan A, B, and C must be ready to deal with different scenarios that could surface.
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