In honour of International Women’s Day, Bright Spaces presents a series celebrating remarkable women in the real estate industry. Through engaging conversations with inspiring women with whom we have the privilege to collaborate, we explore their insights into the evolving real estate landscape, encompassing changing market dynamics, shifts in consumer behaviour, and technology adoption. This first article delves into the dynamic realm of hybrid work, remote work, and flexible workspaces, as articulated by female leaders from the Real Estate industry.

“A major factor that influenced consumer behaviour last year is the change in the way of working, driven by the massive adoption of the concept of ‘work from home’,” shares Raluca Cretul, Leasing Manager at One United Properties. This seismic shift has triggered a reevaluation of office space needs, resulting in a downward trend in new deliveries within the office sector. “In this landscape, ONE United Properties focused on quality and sustainability that ensure economic stability in the future,” she adds.

“The real estate industry, which used to be quite conservative when it came to embracing change, has been undergoing a significant transformation accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the changing preferences of consumers,” adds Oana Partenie-Dorhan, Director – Portfolio Management at Revetas Capital. She continues by stating that “the hybrid work model has re-shaped the demand and requirements expected of an office building. We’ve witnessed the rise of niche segments in the real estate market, such as student housing and senior living and the impact of ESG factors is starting to shape the decision-making process of investors, developers and consumers alike.”

“The newly adopted hybrid working model brought major changes in the office space planning, at a similar scale to when occupiers migrated from cubicles, and modular offices to open-plan spaces,” notes Otilia Bordei, Head of Office Agency at Avison Young Romania. Flexible work arrangements and remote work have reshaped demand for office spaces, leading to a focus on adaptable, multifunctional environments. “We are expecting to witness the shift towards flexible working space as this is becoming the new landscape of the corporate development, an increased focus on wellbeing and sustainability. Adaptation to these trends is essential for developers, landlords and tenants to create modern, functional, and attractive office spaces that meet the evolving needs of today’s workforce”, adds Otilia. 

“My perspective on the transformation occurring within the real estate industry is one of excitement and anticipation,” shares Elena Oancea, Managing Partner at Lemon Interior Design. “Emerging trends like the growing demand for flexible workspaces, the integration of smart technology, and the emphasis on green buildings are reshaping our approach to design”, she adds. Elena highlights that this shift demands industry professionals not only adapt to but also anticipate these changes to innovate and create adaptable spaces that align with evolving consumer needs and preferences.

Reflecting on this transformation, Cristina Manea, Senior Project Director at COS, underscores the challenges and opportunities presented by the hybrid work model. “I think that it is still very much a moving target in terms of the transformation, the fall-out post-covid created a highly reactive situation as organizations became, understandably, overly focused on their people and in some cases, sacrificed some aspects of their ongoing business strategies. The hybrid working model was happening before, but I think the acceleration has created a challenge in terms of engagement, retention and attraction. How do I see the future? I believe there will be a shift towards getting people back to the office, as we need the human connection, but with new set-ups, that sustain the new trends of working together and collaboration,” she affirms.

Looking ahead, Andreea Druga, Managing Director at Paval Holding, envisions office spaces evolving into vibrant ecosystems that foster social and community connections. “The amenities and services surrounding the office building were important even before, but now I believe that their importance is multifold as they contribute to an entire ecosystem set to cater to the needs of individuals working within our properties and provide a physical space for social and community activities,” she states. Prime location, ease of access, and energy efficiency remain crucial attributes, aligned with principles of sustainability and well-being.

The rise of hybrid work and flexible workspaces signifies a paradigm shift in the real estate industry—one characterised by adaptability, innovation, and holistic well-being. As we navigate this evolution, collaboration between developers, landlords, and tenants is essential to create modern, functional, and inclusive spaces that cater to the evolving needs of today’s workforce.

Stay tuned for the next article of the series, where we explore the rising trends of sustainability and eco-friendly properties, alongside the elevated expectations of consumers, as articulated by female leaders from the industry.