Getting the big boss of Ivanhoé Cambridge – who owns Place Ville Marie – to say that the office towers have lost their purpose is proving impossible. However, she immediately admits: nothing will probably ever be the same again.
While most of the country's towers are still deserted and a return to full containment is still possible, Nathalie Palladitcheff is categorical: this time when “people were crammed into towers” a bit like “we stored boxes in warehouses ”is beautiful and well finished.
Thus, she believes, the office of the future will have to distinguish itself from the one before COVID-19 by the quality of the environment offered to workers and the tools that will be made available to them to enable them to be ” to the best of their creativity, innovation and productivity ”.
More workspace, generalization of places of relaxation and collaboration, multiplication of applications with sensors allowing better control of air quality, ventilation systems, and light … From now on, she says , “The technology must be at the service of the occupants rather than only at the service of the engineers”.
To do this, the one who manages a portfolio of 64 billion real estate assets around the world believes that flexibility will become the watchword of the office of tomorrow. Flexibility in the duration of the leases, as well as in their uses.
“Traditionally, we rented buildings to large tenants, for a very long time, and we felt like we had done our job. This era is over, ”she said.
The economic reality of businesses, the new concerns of workers for their health and the undoubted popularity of teleworking which is here for good will force a 180-degree turn in the ways of doing big real estate.
“The whole business model needs to be reviewed,” she admits. […] Before, workers came to the office by obligation. In the future, they will come by choice, to find themselves in a comfortable and practical working environment, rather than simply to submit to a set of constraints. ”
Laboratory of the future
Consequently, it expects that in the future future tenants will be smaller, that they require shorter leases … and above all, that they expect greater flexibility in the use of each of their sq. ft.
Thanks to removable partition systems, for example, closed workspaces or normally open spaces could – when required – be easily transformed into CA meeting rooms.
Ivanhoe decided to experience it for herself when renovating the two upper floors of its 650-employee head office, located in a wing of the Jacques-Parizeau building.
Ultimately, its 8th and 9th floors will bring together multifunctional rooms, laboratories and technological showcases. These spaces will be made available to young companies and researchers who may want to settle there for the time of projects related to real estate.
“Luxury” technologies will become the norm
When coming out of the pandemic, will employers really have the means to afford the rental improvements that the big real estate companies say they are making available to them thanks, among other things, to new technologies?
Ivanhoé Cambridge, for example, owner of $ 64 billion in real estate assets around the world, is drawing much hope from proptech (technology at the service of commercial real estate) to achieve increases in comfort levels and health security now sought by its tenants.
New air quality measurement systems; intelligent sensors to manage temperature, ventilation and lighting, according to the time, space and different tastes of the employees there; relaxation and “emotional and psychological well-being” services at work …
Who can pay?
Everything seems possible … But who can afford them?
“There was a time when electricity and air conditioning were a luxury, replies its CEO, Nathalie Palladitcheff. To take advantage of the air conditioning, we charged a supplement. Today, who could work in a tower in any major city without these two elements? It is unthinkable. ”
She predicts that the same phenomenon will occur with the technologies put in place to improve the level of comfort and health safety of workers, called, it is believed, more and more to divide their time between meetings, training and discussions. at the office and telecommuting at home.
“What was a privilege before will quickly become a kind of normality. ”
And as standards of construction, amenities and services increase in commercial real estate, she predicts that the costs of these technologies will decline. Essentially, thinks the boss of the real estate arm of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, simply by increasing supply and demand.