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Housing the industries of the future

2 July 2018

According to a Dell Technologies report, 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet, which means landlords will have to think flexibly about future workspace.

Lynette Leong, chief executive of CapitaLand Commercial, says: “Buildings can no longer be designed with a singular purpose or customer profile in mind – the definition of work is rapidly evolving and will continue to take on new forms.

“Start-ups and even large corporations are drawn to environments that support innovation, spur collaboration and where creative individuals can thrive.”

For the past few decades, the key occupier of prime CBD office space in the world’s leading cities has been the financial services industry. However, it is predicted that technology will cut a swathe through the financial services industry. According to a global survey by data aggregator Emolument, 47% of financial services employees believe technology is putting their job at risk.

However, James Manyika, chairman and director of the McKinsey Global Institute, points out: “Just saying 51% of activities are relatively easy to automate does not mean 51% of jobs are going to go away.”

Furthermore, the destruction of certain jobs is not necessarily a bad thing overall; advances in technology have tended to lead to people swapping lower value work for higher value occupations: from the field to the factory and the factory to the office for example.

Alec Ross, distinguished visiting fellow at John Hopkins University, identified five key industries that will thrive in the future: robotics, advanced life sciences, cyber security, big data and digitized finance (such as the use of blockchain).

All the industries Ross identifies are “tech heavy” and many will be advanced through start-ups and collaboration, which is likely to increase demand for flexible and collaborative space. Some estimates claim more than half of Asia’s major occupiers already use flexible workspace.

Leong says: “In building and designing for millennials, start-ups and the gig economy, CapitaLand has started smart coworking spaces and we have also inked partnerships with various coworking operators. These add to the plethora of flexible workplace offerings for our traditional tenants and enable us to tap into new categories of tenants.”

However, shared space does not work for all tenants, even tech firms, due to the demands of security. Not only will cyber security be an important industry, it will be crucial to an increasing number of companies. CapitaLand’s latest Singapore development, CapitaSpring in Raffles Place (above), will use technology to protect tenants. “Sensors, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence technology will be deployed throughout the development,” says Leong.

“Tenants will enjoy seamless and secure access to their offices with a glance at a camera thanks to facial recognition technology.”

Occupiers and developers are increasingly acknowledging the role of health and wellness in employee satisfaction and productivity. “Well buildings”, with clean air, good light and access to fitness facilities, will be as important as green buildings in the future. US scientists have shown that a better office environment leads to better performance in cognitive tests and improved sleep.

A study by the Urban Land Institute’s Building Healthy Places Institute found healthy buildings performed better than their developers expected in terms of sales and leasing.

In order to boost wellness, CapitaSpring will also feature spacious green areas for leisure activities. “Executives can take part in fitness sessions, appreciate art installations or unwind over a lunchtime performance in the community spaces,” says Leong.

Further reading:
Savills Office Leasing Research
McKinsey - What is the future of work