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The view of young professionals on the COVID-19 landscape

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Sharing ways to cope and post-pandemic expectations

For the millennial generation, this coronavirus pandemic would be considered the first crisis they have encountered as part of the workforce. Young professionals in the real estate industry from different parts of Asia shared their insights on how their countries and companies responded to the outbreak, ways to cope and stay connected, and what the ‘new normal’ would be like once quarantine is gradually lifted.

In a webinar held by Urban Land Institute Philippines (ULI) Young Leaders Group (YLG) on April 17 titled “YLG Philippines Webinar: Coping Up with a Global Crisis”, millennials in the real estate sectors discuss their thoughts and observation as well as guides on how to positively emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.

The webinar began with the presentations from ULI-YLG representatives in Hong Kong and Japan. Kelly Mai, co-chair of ULI-YLG Hong Kong, started by presenting how the Hong Kong government responded to the outbreak from January to April. She shared that companies have provided employees the necessary tools, equipment, and software to be able to work from home. As for what’s next, she stated to look for opportunities, “Because of time, we get to sit down and think about what would be the next opportunity for the young professionals.”

As for the status in Japan, ShinsukeNuriya, chair of ULI-YLG Japan and director of Head of Investment at Patience Capital Group K.K, gave an overview of the situation in the country and talked about the impact of COVID-19 on the real esatemarket in Japan. He shared that commercial tenants are mostly suffering from financial stress, office demand is declining, and there has been an increasing number of rent reduction requests. Mr. Nuriya’s thoughts and observations after the pandemic boils down to leveraging technology and digital transformation for a contact-free economy. “In order to take advantage of this opportunity, we need to be creative and also innovative,” said Mr.Nuriya as he ended his presentation.

During the roundtable discussion, MikkoBarranda, chair of ULI-YLG Philippines and associate director of Leechiu Property Consultants, provided his insights on the question of whether his company was prepared for the crisis or not. He shared, “At least for our firm, we believe that active and sometimes over-communication is key in situations that are uncertain. Early on, we put together a safety risk management group. We had representatives from different departments to be part of that platform and it’s used to disseminate, streamline information, reinforce and get people as much knowledge, security, and stability as possible. What we need to keep in mind in situations such as what we have today is really having flexibility.”

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Responding to the same question, Founder and Managing Director of Plaza + Partners Inc. Rebecca Plaza expressed the difficulty of not having face-to-face meetings. She mentioned, “When we started the work from home, the pace of work is not the same as what it is like when you’re actually in the office.” Due to the lack of activity brought by the enhanced community quarantine in the Philippines, she and her team worked together during this period and proceeded to create their prototype quarantine facility.

As to how these young professionals stay motivated and cope through COVID-19 in their day-to-day life, leisure and wellbeing activities were at the top; meditation and yoga, playing Nintendo switch video games, online drinking parties via Zoom, among others. Harly Geraldine Pow, director of H.S. POW Construction and Development Corporation / Wellworth Properties and Development Corporation, explained how staying connected through social media platforms has allowed her to gain insight on the experience of people in other countries, “I also believe that technology keeps us not just only informed and productive but also connected. Because of technology, I’m able to stay in touch with my friends and contacts from other countries, and you actually learn from hearing their experiences.”

With regards to the question of staying motivated, Mr.Barranda advised: “It’s normal to not have all the answers today, it’s normal to feel confused or to feel sad during this time.” He stated that this period can be a time to reflect and look at it as an opportunity to build relationships with partners and clients.

Lastly, on their outlook on what new trends may emerge from this situation, they all similarly expressed aspects that would correlate to practicing social distance in public spaces, heightened safety protocols at work, and a new norm for working.

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