Tech in CRE

Driverless cars could be your new mobile office

In coming years, driverless cars will change a lot about the world, especially how we commute to and from work. If you don’t have to focus on the road, you can be more productive in what is essentially a mobile office. But what does that mean for office buildings themselves?

How driverless cars will affect office and commuter culture

When their use is widespread, driverless cars will operate much like public transportation––constantly moving and rarely parked in centrally-located areas. Once this shift occurs, office buildings will no longer need to provide parking for employees. As a result, areas previously set aside for parking will be transformed into green spaces or retail that employees can easily access on their breaks.

Additionally, because smart and efficient driverless vehicles will reduce commute times and make travel more enjoyable, people will be less concerned about living close to their offices. This will allow companies to move their office locations outside of city centers for cheaper rent or additional space. Plus, people will have the ability to be productive while in transit, which could minimize in-office hours for employees, and potentially improve overall quality of life.

How driverless cars will affect office CRE

Because office owners and tenants won’t need to provide parking for their employees, buyers will no longer need be concerned about parking structures in their property search. That may seem like a concern for the future, but developers and buyers should start thinking about it now. Andrew Cheney of Lee & Associates in Arizona says he’s already “heard of developers designing parking garages in some suburban locations that can be converted into office space in the future.”

Cheney also has a prediction for the future challenges that will face architects, owners and managers of office buildings as a result of the growth of autonomous vehicles and same-day delivery.

“Loading docks and other delivery spots will have to be designed for more volume,” he explains, or we’ll have crowding like “the line that forms when parents drop their kids off at school.” To account for this, developers and planners will likely introduce driverless vehicle pickup and drop-off hubs –– similar to bus stops or train stations –– to serve multiple office locations or campuses and separate deliveries from passenger drop-off and pickup.

Employees who don’t have their own cars on site to run errands or pick up food during their breaks will also benefit from more restaurants, coffee shops and other retail at or in walking distance of office campuses. This will create exciting new opportunities for both brokers and investors in areas surrounding office buildings.

How driverless cars will affect the way CRE professionals like you work

When promoting office properties to clients, keep the impact driverless cars will soon have in mind, and think about their role in your client’s buying decision the same way you think about the Internet of Things, virtual reality and smart buildings. These technologies may all still be in their infancy today, but they will soon affect every office building. Particularly if you’re working with someone with a 10-year investment horizon, make sure they’re thinking about the affect this changing tech will have on their timelines because developments are coming fast. Offer advice regarding things like pickup and drop-off locations for autonomous vehicles, and if your client is considering a property that includes parking space, help them make sure that space is future-ready.

Driverless cars won’t only impact the way you interface with clients. They’ll also change the way you do your work. When driverless cars hit the mainstream, you’ll be able to more easily make calls or put together proposals while you’re in transit to another meeting or property tour. So for you, driverless cars might mean more deals. To learn more about how driverless cars will create more business for you, read more on our blog.

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