• Monday, February 26, 2024
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Hybrid work, AI dilemma top office space investors, employers’ concerns in 2024

Hybrid work, AI dilemma top office space investors, employers’ concerns in 2024

Whether or not hybrid is working and the dilemma as to whether Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hype or habit are top of the urgent concerns of real estate investors raising about investment in 2024.

Others are net-zero offices which investors are asking whether they are enough at the moment; what next for real estate investment, and also whether investors will become conversion converts.

Read also: Office market hurt as hybrid work preference grows

These concerns, according to analysts, are coming on the back of broad-based global disruptions, manifesting chiefly as economic and political challenges. Nigeria is, however, a bit different.

Whereas other nations of the world have a mix of technology, in Nigeria, the disruption arises mostly from the economy, especially at the macro level. With hyperinflation that peaked at 28.20 percent in November 2023, a volatile exchange rate, and high energy and input costs, the industry was more than challenged even as its future remains hazy.

Read also: Office market hurting as employee-preference for hybrid work grows

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a professional real estate services company, in its latest ‘Global Real Estate Perspective’ publication, notes that “navigating disruption and uncertainty are now standard in a world that continues to face economic and political challenges.”

The company explains that investors and corporate occupiers have enormous concerns, ranging from the productivity of a hybrid workforce and how to gain an edge with artificial intelligence, to the ongoing problem of what to do with office buildings that are heading for obsolescence.

“Years into the great hybrid work experiment, many firms worry that it isn’t delivering the goods, citing its recent research which found that boosting productivity is one of the top three reasons employers are encouraging people to work from the office as they feel it’s needed to maximize collaboration and innovation.

“Employers associate on-site work with major benefits such as social connection and cultural bonds,” Flore Pradere, Global Work Dynamics Research Director, was quoted as saying. She added that employers see on-site work as a significant contributor to employee performance.

However, there are conflicting issues from an employee standpoint. Almost half the workforce believes they’re more productive at home. “Their reason is that office noise and lack of privacy are significant problems, discouraging many employees from returning,” according to Pradere. “People say they simply can’t concentrate and it’s affecting their work,” she added.

Whether AI will go from hype to habit is the next concern and, according to JLL, AI and the future it has come to represent, has taken the world by storm, explaining that AI is creating a job boom for related skills and it is such that property industries such as data centres have expanded on the back of growth expectations.

JLL points out, however, that as the initial excitement wears off, organizations are grappling with how to fully harness the technology to fuel their future goals. There’s no lack of conviction from investors, developers, and occupiers, who agree it’s among the top three game-changing technologies for real estate in coming years, not least for decarbonizing real estate.

“It’s becoming the norm to use AI to make light work of complex data, whether financial, contractual, or the vast datasets generated by smart buildings,” says Yao Morin, Chief Technology Officer at JLLT. “Companies across all sectors are exploring how AI can drive efficiency,” Morin noted.

However, she cautions that as the use of AI becomes more commonplace, businesses should be mindful of the various AI regulations that continue to emerge across the world, concerning data quality, IP rights, privacy and data security.