What the property industry needs to know about the future world of work

Much has been written about the future world of work relating to technological advances and the advent of robots undertaking many day-to-day jobs, but what role will people play in the future landscape? Davidson Executive Principal Consultant, Ineke McMahon, writes.

In June 2015, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) released its report on projected impacts on the Australian workforce. The report found that there is a high probability that 40% of Australia’s workforce, more than five million people, could be replaced by automation in the same timeframe.

A further 18% of jobs are said to be at ‘moderate’ risk of being replaced. That’s nearly 60% of our workforce at risk. Already we’ve witnessed the launch of autonomous vehicles, a bricklaying robot has been invented in Perth and the Henn-na hotel, which is mostly staffed by robots, recently opened in Japan. The use of robots not only reduces operation costs, but also gives companies the opportunity to put them to work 24/7.

How will the property industry survive amid this sea of turmoil?

Changing demographics and staying ahead of the curve have always been crucial aspects to the property industry. One such change that will affect the industry is the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which has reported that the average lifespan is increasing, as is retirement age. As a result, the ATO is making changes to the retirement age and how people can access their super.

This will have a large impact on the way people choose to live, to work, and the product that the property industry will have to develop. Construction of senior communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes are also all areas of opportunity.

CBRE and Genesis’ recent report Fast Forward 2030: The Future of Work and the Workplace predicts artificial intelligence will transform businesses and the type of work that people do. It also forecasts that technology will redefine the real estate industry, as the majority of real estate transactions will be made online by 2030. The emergence of property aggregators will help to unlock value and new revenue streams for currently unused, but available workspaces.

The report says these new providers will be able to assist corporations to shed excess space and help retailers and developers with the provision of co-working or club facilities for tenants.

Learning to be better humans

In regards to the future world of work, many academics and futurists say the key to prospering is the importance of putting humanity back into the digital age.

Forbes contributor and writer Rawn Shah has written an article that highlights the need for individuals to invest in their own education, based on the fact that the workforce lifecycle has changed so dramatically in the past two generations.

Gone are the days when you left your parents’ home, completed your education and worked in one (or maybe two) jobs through your working life before retiring on your savings.

Today’s career path requires us to learn continuously and, given the average tenure of jobs is currently three-and-a-half to four years, it stands to reason that you need to be re-investing in skill development with each new role. In fact, some futurists predict our working life will consist of six careers and 14 job changes – at a minimum.

Traditionally, this has been the role of the employer, but the onus is now moving towards the individual. 

How can property professionals start adapting? 

  • Interpersonal skills will gain a strong importance in the workforce. Likewise, we need to increase our management, HR and organisational behavioural skills.
  • Employees will need to keep abreast of changes in their industry and effectively read trends and guide their career based on these findings.
  • Unsurprisingly, jobs will become more technology dependent. All of us need to embrace computer literacy to ensure we stay on top of these changes.
  • As technology carries out more of our repetitive tasks, we will be freed to do more specialised work. So what area will you specialise in?
  • Disruptive innovation will continue to change the way existing industries operate, like Uber, Airbnb and Amazon have. Employees will need to embrace change and become more entrepreneurial.
  • Research shows that the workforce will have more freelancers or contractors who work for multiple employers. This means we need to move away from honing one particular skill-set.
  • Social entrepreneurship and projects involving social good will also become increasingly important and redefine employment opportunities.

The property industry is one of Australia’s most dynamic and a major contributor to the nation’s economy. It’s important that we understand how the future of work and changing global trends will affect our economy. What’s more, understanding the implications of a consumer society, lifestyle and work will all affect what homes we live in and the buildings we will occupy.