Last year we looked to the start of 2021 with hope and expectation. Hope that the pandemic would miraculously have ended and expectant of a better year. Neither was necessarily to be, and for many the year was harder. It has been a year in which those things that we have considered to be constants in our lives has been changed and we have truly understood the meaning of the saying, “the only constant is change”. And so it was with sadness that we also bid farewell to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, another constant on the political landscape of South Africa, and the constant conscience of South Africa, for as long as I can remember.
But change has always been a necessary part of humanity and it becomes more evident how difficult it must have been to rebuild lives and the world after the Second World War. Not only had a great many lives been lost but infrastructure, buildings, and the very fabric of societies across Europe and Asia was destroyed. This gave many the opportunity to rebuild, and in the instance of Germany and Japan, they rebuilt stronger and more resilient. And so, our reconstruct is easier, and less traumatic. This rebuild has already started and again we are reminded of the saying, “necessity is the mother of invention” as new industries forge ahead during this time……the most major among these has been shopping patterns with everything available online and delivered to your door.
The new year will see the property industry needing to adapt to these new trends, and it will be interesting to understand how they will affect shopping centres, office buildings and residential developments. Some has already become apparent, as home renovations are booming as people become more aware of the need to live in a comfortable space and work from it. Does this mean that shopping centres are dead and everybody is going to work from home? Highly unlikely. We are social animals by our nature and we crave the interaction. Working from home gets the work done but does not build collegiality and culture. Many of us have met our best friends at work. Shopping is more than acquiring an item but is an experience……and a therapeutic experience for many.
As we sit here today, at the cusp of 2022, we do not have the answer to many of the questions that face us……we do not know whether the corporate strategies envisaged and mapped out are actually going to work…..is working from home a thing?……is online schooling a thing?……..is “eating in” a thing?…..I don’t know……what I do know is that the only constant is change……that over the years property has been adapted and changed to service the needs of its community……as much as we would like to believe that we determine how the world operates, the world determines how we operate…..and sometimes we get it right and we assist in making it operate more efficiently.
And so, as we bid farewell to 2021, and face the unknown of 2022, we look forward not with fear and trepidation, but with expectation and awe, to be part of a new order, a new world. It is not often that we can be at the forefront of change……it is not often that we can step into the breach. It is not often that a gap arises and a new idea, a new person, a new way is required…..such is this time…..to be the change, to fill the gap, and if you are brave enough, to be the new moral conscience of South Africa.
It is a time of seismic social change and unparalleled technological advancement…..we can choose to be a part of it, or attempt to resist it…..the line spoken by The Borg in the TV show Star Trek rings true……”Resistance is futile” and so this year we hope to be joining you in making the technological jump that will prepare you for the new world……as we collectively embrace the change.