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How can PropTech support the office after Covid-19?


At a time when our daily lives are being turned upside down by the boom in new technology, the real estate sector has certainly been affected by this phenomenon, thanks to more inspired and inventive start-ups.

PropTech itself has one well-established objective: technology that supports the human. In this way, to better meet consumer expectations, start-ups and innovative companies are coming up with new solutions to reinvent the real estate industry across all divisions including; transaction, leasing and asset management. The playing field is vast for start-ups who are in a perpetual state of momentum. The Covid-19 crisis, through the reinforcement of various health related practises and the greater rolling out of digital practices, will prove to be an accelerator of various new interactions, making PropTech an opportunity to imagine the post-Covid office building. 

“The real estate sector is undoubtedly undergoing its biggest revolution," confides Thierry Laroue-Pont, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at BNP Paribas Real Estate, before continuing, "We are experiencing a revolution in the way we use and interact with services. More than a place to live or work, the building is becoming a real space for experimentation and consumption.” And for good reason, the stakes are high for players in the sector: offering an experience that appeals to everyone, from the tenant to the employee, the owner or the landlord, without forgetting managers, operators and visitors. A major challenge, because it is central for the players in the sector and their ability to withstand various social and political events. So how can technology serve everyone? 

Thierry Laroue-Pont

We are experiencing a revolution in the way we use and interact with services. More than a place to live or work, the building is becoming a real space for experimentation and consumption

Thierry Laroue-Pont
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at BNP Paribas Real Estate

Are start-ups fundamental to the digital transformation of a building?

From 2017 to the start of 2019, the number of investments per investor went from 2.7 to 4.8, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. A sign of a real collaborative trend between market players and start-ups. Among the major driving forces behind this technological revolution, optimising how we interact in a building is a crucial challenge. The experience within the building thus gradually takes precedence over the building itself. The space becomes a service that should captivate and excite those inside. This concept is known as Human Estate, putting people at the heart of the building. 

The arrival of 5G, which will allow for an increase in the use of IoT (Internet of Things) and connected objects, will contribute more than ever to the development of responsive buildings. We therefore must question if technology and PropTech are today essential in offering support and a tailor-made experience. A central figure in deciphering how data can be used, the Property Manager is a connoisseur of space consumption and responsible for its management. They therefore become a key player in the digital transformation of property assets.

Following in the footsteps of FinTech, PropTech offers many possibilities to the various players in the real estate sector. PHYSEE, for example, contributes to the creation of buildings that interact with their environment, thanks to sensors capable of measuring indoor and outdoor air quality, light intensity and temperature. "By optimising the working environment, we improve tenant comfort and can reduce energy costs by 20%” says Maarten de Haas, Head Business of PHYSEE. Another example applied to buildings (offices, residential, specialist residences), MonBuilding encourages the relaying of information, exchanges with occupants and access to services. "Occupant experience has been neglected for (too) many years! Our ambition is for our tool to become as important an element as heating or Wi-Fi in every building," says Eliane Lugassy, CEO of the French start-up. For its part, WeMaintain has been working on a digital solution to upgrade the maintenance of lifts via a platform that allows technicians to directly add information whilst onsite. "The result is greater transparency for customers: they have access to an online platform updated in real time by the technician", explains Benoît Dupont, CEO of WeMaintain. Mobile applications such as Office App, Workwell or Comfy also enhance the user experience within the building, whether to book a meeting room or change a light bulb.

While the primary purpose of all these applications is to simplify and measure the user experience, it is also ultimately about providing the most optimal and customisable experience possible. This is applied on the scale of a neighbourhood, a building, a floor or even an individual.  

Eliane Lugassy

Occupant experience has been neglected for (too) many years! Our ambition is for our tool to become as important an element as heating or Wi-Fi in every building

Eliane Lugassy
CEO, WeMaintain

A building and its surroundings

Beyond an interior space, it is also a question of rethinking the building on the scale of its neighbourhood, and no longer solely on the basis of its direct environment. We must therefore implement solutions and measures to transform society and prepare it as best we can for the changes to come.

"The experience of the building takes precedence over the building itself, space becomes a service. As Property Managers, we have to pay special attention to this trend. "says Csongor Csukás, Head of International Property Management at BNP Paribas Real Estate, before continuing. "The Property Manager has to ensure that these experiences are intuitive and consistent in order to make a mark on the building. This consistency strengthens the attractiveness of the building and enhances the experience of its users. 

The technological revolution, embodied by PropTech, promises to be a powerful accelerator for change, not only in terms of its contribution to the environment, predicting future maintenance or servicing needs, but also in terms of changing how we interact with a building. More than ever, PropTech provides us with answers to the challenges posed by Human Estate.

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