By Stephan Degenhart, Managing Director at Drees & Sommer Middle East
Construction consultants can help draw the finsest global talent to the UAE by designing work environments that ensure greater wellbeing, productivity and staff retention.
As the UAE looks to attract more foreign companies to boost its economy and global ranking, the construction industry should play its part. This is more important than ever given the recent introduction of 100% foreign ownership and a revamped visa system to support vital sectors of the economy.
Consultancy Drees & Sommer aims to support these initiatives by encouraging developers and owners to adopt the concept of ‘usability’, which refers to the ease of access or use of a place. To improve usability, developers must have a thorough understanding of the future tenants and occupants it wishes to attract.
There has been a global shift in employee expectations as millennials begin to replace the suit and tie generation. Digitisation, for example, plays a significant role in reinforcing the usability of a building, and is a direction many foreign companies are taking. Intelligent parking lots and meeting rooms, smart access control and efficient facility management are other elements that can help future tenants attract the right talent.
These are just some of the factors that make usability attractive to local building developers in the UAE’s relatively young commercial real-estate market. And the country is now well placed to follow in the footsteps of Europe, which has a well established culture of developing real estate to attract talent.
Drees & Sommer has recently undertaken a usability project on an existing retail space in Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR). The retail units were originally located and designed to service the surrounding residential units. Over time the developer and owner realised the space was severely under-used and approached us to oversee the transformation of the space into more commercially beneficial residential units.
While the project is not complete, the rental yields per square foot and occupancy rates are expected to increase ten-fold, providing a solid return on investment.
Usability is a trend that is becoming more and more prevalent across international markets and will soon see a larger uptake in the UAE as more foreign companies begin to enter the market. With over 27,000 new buildings currently under construction and plans to accommodate further economic growth, the country is taking great strides towards achieving its objective of becoming an international hub for business and development.