Disruptive technology-and the need to embrace it-will continue to influence office and retail tenants, as well as developers, panelists said at the ULI U.K. Annual Conference, held in early June in London. The retail sector, and shopping centers specifically, are facing multiple challenges-challenges not limited to the rise of e-commerce, said Henrie Kötter, chief investment officer at German shopping center owner and developer ECE. “If retailers only had one challenges, they would probably have worked it out by now,” he said. For the office occupier market, a key trend driving change is the battle for talent, which is manifesting itself in different ways, said Despina Katsikakis, international partner and head of occupier business performance at Cushman & Wakefield. As a result, all companies need to provide workspaces that support flexible work habits and employee well-being. Taking up the office occupier theme, Antony Slumbers, chief executive officer of Estates Today and a self-declared innovation evangelist, focused on the ways in which automation-driven by artificial intelligence-will change the nature of employment and office requirements. Quoting a McKinsey and Company report, he said 49 percent of current work activities could be automated using only existing technology. “Fundamentally, no company has ever said they need an office. What they need is a productive workforce.”
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