It’s been a long and interesting journey for BOOQED. Having started in 2017 as a digital marketplace helping connect companies needing short-term space to work or meet, business was booming, until the pandemic hit. Rather than accept defeat, BOOQED decided to evaluate the market and saw an opportunity to pivot their business. Now, they’re revealing their secrets so you can take your business to the next level too!
In part 1 of our interview with David Wong, BOOQED Co-Founder and CEO, and Charles Oh, BOOQED Co-Founder and COO, we hear all about their top tips for creating a successful startup and how they transformed their business offering to not only survive, but truly thrive, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In part 2, we’ve asked them to share their insights on how COVID-19 has impacted the real estate industry, new technologies to watch out for and what industry trends we can expect to see in the next few years. Are you ready?
DW: When COVID first hit, we took a lot of time to try to understand the medium- and long-term implications of the pandemic on commercial real estate through workplace surveys and in-depth interviews with our clients, partners, real estate developers and other stakeholders. We believe COVID has fundamentally changed real estate for the long haul. But this change is creating opportunities for companies such as BOOQED, as companies review the way they work and their office requirements.
CO: Despite the large fanfare of work from home (WFH) policies, I do not see the majority of the workforce permanently adopting WFH, especially in Asia. Though there may not be a need to be at the office 100% of the time, we hear consistently that people miss working at the office, whether it’s the comradery, the quick water-cooler chat, or having that dedicated space and environment to get work done. The culture in Asia may arguably be more traditional in the sense of being physically in the office, but I believe managers and decision-makers are becoming much more prudent and intentional on the purpose of gathering together.
DW: I think there are a few major trends that are going to be impacting real estate for years to come:
1. Ongoing development of technology that influences change in the nature of business processes and the profile of employees. This evolution in the employee profile will have a significant impact on how companies define their need for office space;
2. Digital transformation accompanied by new organizational models. The rise of hybrid work environments is a great example of this, which will affect the space preference of companies;
3. Real estate as a service, as property shifts from a focus on the built environment to the service layer of building data and the monetization of the data it provides; and
4. Inside-out design where buildings or offices are designed based on who the building user is.
CO: The old cliché that crisis brings opportunity could not be more true, as seen in the last 18 months for the proptech industry. Despite the COVID hardships for commercial real estate, there are significant macro areas of growth in proptech that personally gets me excited:
CO: I don’t think COVID changed my views overall, but essentially confirmed and accelerated what we’ve been seeing in real estate even before COVID. From a macro perspective, technologies that allow further remote work and enabling distributed teams to be more productive are pretty exciting, especially when you’re trying to re-imagine what a “normal” workweek might look like in the future.
Related to the previous point is the issue of mental health, especially as companies need to resolve how best to handle company-culture issues in remote/hybrid work:
1) Potential isolation and lack of human interactions; and
2) Increase in misunderstandings and mishaps in communications between colleagues and superiors.
I wouldn’t be surprised if digital services and tools that aid in better mental health and relational wellbeing for employees will be increasingly adopted by companies.
Finally, without a doubt, automation and AI-enabled services will be at the forefront for nearly any company in any industry. The proliferation of accessible AI services that can be deployed and scaled anywhere around the world is exciting, especially as companies look to productivity solutions.