Guy Windsor-Lewis shares the twists and turns of 2021, what lessons we have learned and how the pandemic has shaped the future of the business.
Despite the uncertainties of the pandemic, 2021 has surprisingly proven to be a year of true resilience. 8.47 billion Covid-19 vaccinations have been administered globally, England reached the Euro 2020 finals, and the property sector has refused to back down from the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic and, instead, is defiantly solidifying its role in our lives – shifting from just focusing on bricks and mortar and assets to a mindset of genuine placemaking and community creation. It’s been incredible to see such a display of unity and strength.
Focusing on the occupier
The increased confidence of our clients, who are working hard to claim back the trust and support of occupiers, have accelerated the adoption of digital solutions that support the spatial needs of occupiers during what will continue to be an uncertain time for a while to come.
Despite the uncertainties, 64 new buildings have joined the Locale Group family, including over 22,000 residential apartments This equates to over 18.5m sq ft, bringing our portfolio to nearly 80m sq ft of real estate. Furthermore, our portal and app have shown an average of 170,000 users.
With our focus on what occupiers need constantly evolving so too has our business. We found an increasing demand for experiential solutions and greater interactivity through visual communications with occupiers and this has led us to launch Locale Life and Locale Look during the pandemic. Some would say starting new brands during a pandemic is daft but I saw a wealth of opportunities, created out of a desire to help property owners and managers improve communication and develop relationships with their occupiers. This has meant we are now able to offer an integrated digital and in-person service tailored to the needs of our clients and specific buildings.
The experiential solutions of Locale Life have seen our clients not only deliver growth but tangible client engagement and satisfaction through bespoke occupier events and surveys, and specifically sourced offers and promotions that bridge the gap between occupiers with their buildings and the community they live and work in.
There was certainly hesitation, worry, and at times a complete fear of failure when launching Locale Look, but with the right team in place, this new brand within the Locale Group business has been greeted with open arms – or at least a warm curiosity that continues to grow as Locale Look does. We are already developing content across a variety of assets from shopping centres to offices and I am so excited to see where this goes in 2022.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork
The pandemic has resulted in a team that has often been dispersed between our office and remote, but with the hard work of our HR team, we have successfully ensured full collaboration and unity with the launch of flexi-working, designed to support our staff’s working preferences, understand what works best for them, and keeping their wellbeing at the heart of our operations.
Our commitment to our employees has not gone unnoticed. This year, Locale was shortlisted for not one, but two awards in an Employer Award category with two major industry publications – the EG Awards and the Negotiator Awards. It was a true victory as a leader to see Locale’s name amongst industry heavyweights and knowing that we as a company are looking after our team to an award-worthy standard.
Investing in our future
2021 has taught me that we must continue to invest, even in the tough times. Not only have I not furloughed a single member of staff, but I have grown the Locale team to match the needs of the Group and our clients. We have already committed to investing further into our customer experience team where a specialised customer success team will site alongside our customer service and client production teams – and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Our commitment to investing in the future has come with great reward. We are now the largest tech provider in the UK, resulting in increased recognition with Locale being named in the top 10 of Business Cloud’s top 50 PropTech Innovators in the UK. I am certain that we will no longer be tiptoeing around the pandemic, but accepting that, to move forward, bold steps are needed. And they are needed now.