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Pandemic Pushes Real Estate Brokers to Embrace Tech, and Now They’re Actually More Excited About It

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Like many commercial real estate brokers, you probably have learned a lot about yourself during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most likely, you miss your co-workers as well as the office camaraderie — brainstorming ideas on the fly, standing in a colleague’s doorway chatting about whatever, sharing a sandwich over lunch. This has been a huge worldwide experiment in remote work, formerly known as telecommuting. One thing is for sure: You’ve had to embrace technology more than ever before to fulfill your job responsibilities, see people and try to stay sane.

The latest Apto National Broker Buzz Poll confirms brokerage team professionals are embracing the technology that makes remote work — and all work, really — more possible, more enjoyable and certainly more efficient. Technology use skyrocketed during the pandemic, and not just the use of online video meeting platforms like Zoom.

Altogether, 72% of CRE brokers say the pandemic has made them embrace technology more, while 28% say it hasn’t. Sixty-four percent of respondents say they’ve learned to use technology more and for more things, and in the process they’ve actually become excited about what tech can do for them to advance their business.

That’s no small thing. Changing psychology is hard. Changing behavior is harder.

Commenting on the poll results, Tanner McGraw, himself a former CRE broker and founder of Apto, says, “I’m heartened to see brokers become more excited about technology and what it can do to help them. The pandemic forced many people to get more comfortable with technology and they did. Hopefully this change in behavior is here to stay.”

Office footprint in the future

As the mindset shifts from pre-pandemic skepticism of remote work, commercial real estate sales and leasing services firms are planning how they will move forward in the near future. Industry leaders have to adapt their workplaces with the changing times and decide whether to shift fully or partially from a physical to a digital environment … and weigh productivity benefits
and operating costs.

Asked about these shifts in the workplace, 25% of survey respondents say they expect their brokerage firms to reduce their office footprints in the next two to three years, while 17% say they expect their company’s space commitment to increase during the period. Fifty-eight percent say they are not expecting any changes to their company’s office-space footprint.

The Apto poll was conducted in August in the weeks leading up to Labor Day. Thousands of brokers, mainly in the U.S., were invited to take the survey.