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Airbnb: Could it be the model for the office of the future?

Airbnb could be the model for office space in the future, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s Proptech, Data & Innovation Summit, which was held online last week.

“Even before Covid-19 there was a lot of unused office space, so it makes sense to go for a booking platform model to sublet spare capacity,” said Andy Saull, research associate, Pi Labs. “Think Airbnb for office space.”

The beauty of the idea is that there will be feedback on the platform and customer satisfaction accreditation, which will create beneficial workspaces.

“We’ll get a lot of data and satisfaction ratings,” said Saull. “In five years’ time we’ll have a comparison website with all the data, a control loop which will also be the best way to get carbon neutrality. I’d call it a brilliant wake-up call for those landlords who’ve ignored the needs of tenants for so long.”

He pointed out that there is currently a disconnect between the information we gather about the places where we holiday or travel for short trips, and the lack of information about offices where we spend a high proportion of our lives.

“When we go on holiday for two weeks we look at metrics, comparison sites and do our homework, yet we work in offices five days a week, many months a year and we don’t even think that we don’t know basic facts about the building,” said Saull.

A good investment

Installing more technology will allow landlords to monitor customer satisfaction as well as their buildings’ performance in terms of energy consumption and air quality.  

“We help landlords to manage tenants’ feedback across the portfolio in real time,” said Lukas Balik, co-founder & CEO, Spaceflow. “Having data that shows tenants are happy with the levels of service provided is very valuable when negotiating lease agreements.”

A recent MIT study looked at returns on satisfaction, and concluded that buildings with the highest scores have a 29% premium in value. Already in London buildings with the highest EPC ratings (A or B) achieve rents which are 12% higher.

“The returns on investment are clear,” said Saull. “I can’t promise there’ll be an immediate rent increase, but it’s 100% guaranteed there’ll be one in the future. In 10 years’ time you’ll get the premium. Invest now, get ample rewards later. There has never been a better time to invest in proptech.”