Burt Polson

J.L. Sousa/Register Burt Polson writes the Real Estate in the Napa Valley column for the Napa Valley Register.

J.L. Sousa/Register

We will experience more technological changes in the next two years than we have in the last 30.

I love technology, and find it not only enriches my life but also simplifies it.

For example, the information we have available on the Internet expands our knowledge, having our entire digital life in our pocket provides convenience and the safety measures in our vehicles give us peace of mind.

We need to balance the cost of technology and our loss of privacy with the benefits. Privacy is a big concern for many of us as we share more information online than in the past.

Technology is bringing about significant shifts in all facets of real estate from the way we use it to the construction methods used or the way we buy and sell. The changes in the retail industry and how we use office space are currently going through a transition.

No interruption for the retail disruption

You may have heard of the “disrupters” in the retail industry stemming from online e-commerce companies like Amazon. It is a real threat to many of our banks, department stores, pharmacies, supermarkets and malls.

However, one key is for these industries to rethink how they do business.

Retail bank storefronts are slowly going away in the United Kingdom as more consumers move accounts online. Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens will need to reconstruct themselves now with the convenience of prescription drug delivery through the mail.

Many stores will close while others will refocus the way they do business. Large department stores like Sears and Macy’s may have a difficult time steering in another direction and end up closing. Other stores will continue to grow their online presence while supplementing the shopping experience with their brick and mortar stores.

It will be interesting to see how the behemoth Amazon changes the grocery shopping experience with the pending acquisition of Whole Foods Market. Unlike a clothing store where touching and trying on clothes is part of the decision-making process, the same is not so for food.

Malls are closing and are going through a repurposing as lifestyle centers bringing together services, colleges, retail, restaurants and even medical uses under one roof.

Collaborative offices are cool

The way we work is changing with the growth of the freelance economy and being an “8 to 5” employee becoming a thing of the past.

Not only are companies creating more of a lifestyle environment for their employees many will work in a more open and fluid co-working environment, at the coffee shop or employee’s home.

We see a tremendous growth in the hub environment with companies like WeWork and LiquidSpace offering the collaborative workspace.

As real estate costs go up for employers, office space size will decrease, coworking space will be more the norm and working outside the office will continue to grow.

In part 2, we will look at transportation, urbanization, certification and optimization.

Burt M. Polson, CCIM, is a local real estate broker specializing in commercial, luxury estates and wineries. Reach him at 707-254-8000, or burt@acresinfo.com. Sign up for his email newsletter at BurtPolson.com.

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