A bumper election year

In our first issue of 2024 we highlight three global themes with regional ramifications: a super election cycle, remote working and its effects on offices, and property companies' efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion.

An estimated two billion people around the world will head to the polls in 2024, in what is being billed as the biggest election year in history.

Not all these votes will be free and fair, and quite a few may deliver destabilising outcomes. Some analysts are even talking about ‘a nerve-racking and dangerous year’.

Europe, too, will get its fair share of the action, and could see some unexpected results.

Take the Netherlands, where PropertyEU is headquartered, and where a general election was held last November – with a lurch to the far right as the shock outcome. Although a new government has yet to be formed – and some of the sharper edges may get lost in the process – it will likely be shaped by nationalist populist views and be one of the most right-wing the country has ever had.

What does all this have to do with real estate? Well, quite a lot, as our analysis reveals. Approaches to the housing crisis (where to build, how quickly and for whom), zoning policy and development in rural areas (big box distribution centres) and climate change (carbon and other emissions targets) could change radically. And there could be knock-on effects for the business climate in general, potentially deterring international investors.

In this first issue of the year, we also look at how two other global trends are playing out in Europe. Isobel Lee investigates how flexible office providers are creating business models which are successful, unlike WeWork’s, by forging joint ventures with traditional landlords. These partnerships benefit both sides, at a time when offices are under pressure from remote working and a redefinition of the workplace.

‘From the outset, we are sharing risks and rewards with the property owners,’ is how Alan Pepper, CEO of UK flex office business Orega, sums it up. ‘We do better, they do better.’

Amenities are key for getting the formula right, including anything from common areas and event spaces to sports and wellness facilities, food courts and digital connectivity. 

As AXA IM Alts’ global head of offices Emilie Jaskula points out: ‘Amenities in general are really important, not just the flexible office component.’

In his report on how European property companies are tackling diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), Robin Marriott reveals that far from waning, as some reports suggest is the case across industries in the US, attention for DEI values is increasing. Approaches may differ, but firms are ramping up their efforts and broadening their focus – a sign, one expert says, that many are waking up not only to the moral imperative, but also the business case for diverse representation.

Another positive signal going into 2024.


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