Real Estate and the Future of Work
Technology and society are evolving at a never-before-seen pace, which puts businesses in an era of digital Darwinism. In the rapidly unfolding future, companies need to transform themselves with a new mindset, completely different concepts of leadership, and innovative business models. ‘Transform or disappear’ is the message that’s humming across industries, and those who respond with agility to the future of work will make it through to the other side.
The real estate sector is also faced with an urgent need to transform in the face of emerging technologies, demographic shifts, and evolving aspirations and expectations of stakeholders. To be relevant in the future, we need first to look inwards and bring about a change in the way we think, operate, and perceive growth. The key to transformation, however, is not being reactive to disruption, but to proactively design your own future by reading the potential impact of change.
Tech up or miss out
Let’s face it; when it comes to business transformation, technology is often the elephant in every room. No doubt adopting the right technology is one of the biggest challenges that businesses across sectors face in their digital transformation aspirations, and the real estate sector is no exception. In an Oxford University study on the future of over 700 occupations, real estate jobs emerged among the most likely to fall prey to AI and other disruptive technological forces. Contrary to popular beliefs, algorithms will not replace humans but will serve as co-workers to the human workforce. So, while technology adoption plays a vital role in the real estate sector, it is more important to upskill people and develop a culture that builds a level of comfort and acceptance for human-machine collaboration. At DAMAC, as part of our digital transformation strategy, we have implemented the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM), an information backed advanced 3D model process that enables us to achieve the best value throughout the project lifecycle by giving designers, architects and construction professionals the information and tools to plan, design, build, and manage buildings more efficiently. We have also migrated all our customer data to Salesforce, an integrated CRM platform that enables the different functions within the organisation to view the customers more clearly. While digital transformation may seem like a challenging slope to climb, the key is to get started and implement use cases in areas that will bring the most direct and impactful results.
A people first mindset
While technology takes the front seat in most discussions about transformation, it is nothing but a tool for us to craft the future. At the heart of this transformation, are people. For the first time in history, many workplaces are composed of people from five generations – traditionalists, baby boomers, generation X, millennials, and generation Z. There is a significant shift in global demographics, and Generation Z will represent a substantial chunk of the workforce in the future. Known for their entrepreneurial spirit and affinity for the ‘gig economy’, Gen Z represents people who are vastly different in terms of aspirations and values than their predecessors. For businesses to make it to the future of work, it is imperative to understand what motivates this generation and work now towards building a desirable culture. A salary package and brand name will not be enough to attract and retain talent. Studies show that millennials and Gen Z want to work for organisations with a higher purpose that they can relate to. Now and in the future, real estate companies will need to offer employee engagement, personal and professional development opportunities and options for remote work to ensure that they can retain the best talent. At DAMAC, we have created a family-oriented culture, and we believe in the holistic development of our employees. DAMAC Active, our staff sporting event, enables us to engage with our team members and promote their wellbeing.
A new breed of leaders
With technology evolving in tandem with the workforce, businesses need a new form of leadership to bring it all together. The future of work demands leaders of the future and organisations need to start identifying potential leaders and enabling them with a whole new set of skills. Research predicts that in the future, silos will break down, and positions will be more fluid than they are today. The next generation of employees will prefer a non-hierarchal form of leadership that encourages diversity and inclusion, a democratic approach to decision making, and employee development. Besides acing the hard skills, the leaders of tomorrow will also need to exhibit soft skills such as emotional intelligence, communication, empowerment, and people building. To deal with the rapid evolution of technology, leaders across functions will need to develop a strong understanding of different technologies and their impact on the business. It is also up to leaders to ensure that they are actively skilling up their team members with the skills needed for the future such as creativity, analytical thinking, decision making, cultural intelligence, and active learning, among others. Leaders are going to play the most vital role in creating an organisational mindset that promotes agility to drive their transformation strategies.
While the future of work may seem like a distant idea, in reality, it is already here. The real estate sector, which has been known to be a late adopter of change, needs to move fast to be able to meet the demands of tomorrow. We need to evaluate ourselves and make structural and cultural changes that will enable us to respond better to the known and unknown aspects of the future. At DAMAC, we believe in a proactive approach to transformation and are creating our future of work through informed decisions and future foresight.