Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. —Francis of Assisi


As the COVID-19 pandemic grips the world, causing indescribable grief and damage, the solutions that help to save companies and businesses will be surprisingly simple.

These solutions are emerging from the relationships we have with those that provide our homes and our places of work, relationships that right now are under tremendous strain.

How rents, schedules, arrears and charges are being managed has to change.

The workload associated with changing, adapting and agreeing schedules is as inefficient as it is unnecessary, and right now this is a primary cause of anxiety and stress for all parties.

The formal process for amending and updating agreements does not economically reflect the needs of all stakeholders involved. It is too time consuming, too slow and too expensive.

Technology will not solve these problems. The solutions, the simplest solutions, that will enable companies and businesses to survive, will be the human gestures that are made and the support extended between tenants and landlords. This will all take place almost completely hidden from view.

This obscurity is the real downfall of real estate. It is a problem that innovative leaders involved in property have only recently been trying to mitigate.

It stems from the tremendous asymmetry in how information and control exists in real estate management. Only when users and occupiers are in positions of control and authority will we establish better models of service provision for the sector. Only when users and occupiers of property have autonomy in decision making and are rewarded for the data and information they contribute, are we able to learn from and replicate the solutions and successes this transparency brings.

The methods being used now to support families and businesses provide an insight into the future role real estate will play in shaping our post-pandemic economy. Prior to lockdown companies were finding great success by improving the quality of their services, creating powerful and meaningful consumer experiences and relationships. Embracing the trends of a growing consumer-led economy.

The real estate sector has been slow to make this transition. The lack of investment will be plain for all to see in the flood of negative headlines that emerge as more and more families and businesses struggle with debt and arrears.

The opportunity now exists for us working in the sector to explore what is possible, as we establish and share the tools and solutions borne from this extreme test of adversity. A healthier, more resilient property sector means ensuring that we improve transparency, create more flexibility, and find new innovative ways in which to enable positive and proactive engagement with tenants. It means ensuring that the solutions we develop in how we manage property must be led by our tenants, users and occupiers of property.

What will be the most significant change in real estate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? If the leaders of companies and businesses that survive this period of crisis learn anything, we will see an acceleration in the shift away from real estate's tradition and culture of control.

Truly innovative new models of property occupation and ownership will emerge based on the most simple, affordable and accessible solution of all, collaboration.