So, What now?
Nothing will ever be the same again. Most people in the world survived and by and large the world is still functioning despite us being inmates. So why would we go back to where we were?
I have spent 35 years in the corporate world, and I am still spending a considerable time in that environment. Ever since I can recall, every company that I was involved in aimed for the ‘paperless’, ‘digital’, ‘more efficient’ workplace and environment. We had workstreams, project managers, digital enhancement managers, scanning experts, management consultants, Business Process Reengineering projects and a whole lot of other acronyms, half of which I cannot remember. Technology has evolved enormously over this period and I am not saying that little progress was made.
On 23 March 2020 a new digital manager walked into most companies and her name was Ms Covid-19. Three days later, she achieved what most companies struggled to achieve for a long period of time. Yes, there are challenges and it is not perfect, but it works! A Month ago, I did not know what “Microsoft Teams” was and last week I was Chairman of a meeting with 19 participants using Microsoft Teams. I learnt very quickly, as is most of the world.
Clearly not everybody can work from home, however, there are ramifications for those that can. For example in Financial Services (banks and insurance companies including their distribution networks) lawyers, accountants, management consultants, advertising agencies, PR agencies and anybody anywhere in a “Head Office” of sorts.In fact, anyone selling time on an hourly rate that is not doing some physical labour falls into this category. We can include here any administration staff in any municipality or government department; - they need not be housed in an office.Therefore, watch the office space market in business centres such as Sandton. I anticipate huge excess capacity.
A place to work in at home whether it be a study / cubicle / dining room will become a very important factor when anyone is looking to rent or purchase a new place to stay in.
The Desktop PC is dead, and long live the laptop and some very improved tablets.
Connectivity will be as important in a new property as a kitchen.
The conference venue industry has had significant cancellations but please hang in there. Companies that will give up office space after the lockdown will still need to meet with their employees from time to time and will use traditional conference venues to do this.
Retail premises will decline significantly. Stores will exist for you to fit your clothing or shoes for size, thereafter it will be bought online and delivered to your home. In fact, I may go so far as to state that there may be giant pop up stores at conference or expo centres for consumers to go “look & see” and then shopping will go online.