As humans and technology evolve, so has the workplace. Expect more intuitive technology being employed in the near future.
By Khalil Adis
Mention GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the first thing that comes to mind is innovation. In fact, the word innovation is synonymous with this pharmaceutical giant which is renowned for consumer products such as Sensodyne and Aquafresh toothpaste.
“At GSK, we often ask ourselves, “do we have the right properties?” In Asia, it is all about growth. Asia is a huge piece of our future,” said Simon French, GSK’s Workplace and Design Director, Worldwide Real Estate and Facilities, United Kingdom.
French was speaking at the CoreNet Global Summit 2018 held in Singapore in March.
Titled Beyond the Horizon – The 2030 Workplace, GSK’s Asia headquarter office at Singapore’s research & development hub at one-north features intuitive workspaces that promote human interaction and collaboration while being culturally sensitive.
For example, its food offerrings at the premises are halal, keeping in mind the city-state’s multi-racial and multi-religious society. “Bacon & eggs won’t work in Singapore,” quips French.
The design process behind its GSK Asia House at Rochester Park in one-north involves looking at commercial drivers, behaviours & culture and design thinking
What results is an open office space spanning four floors of 14,330 sq m with plenty of natural light and ventilation.
In addition, it also has four layers of invisible security barriers before you get to see the actual work space.
Indeed, the ground floor is open to the public while the entire building is designed to bring in natural light.
“In Singapore, outdoor areas are under- utilised. We, therefore, have used the outdoor space in the western part of the building as
it affects employees’ behaviour - happy staff equals a more engaged people,” says French.
Commerce and value creators
While open design appears to be the order of the day, the design process is very much rooted in commerce.
GSK estimates that the Asia Pacific region will become its largest regional market by 2020. As such, greater emphasis has been placed on those who bring value or are generating revenue.
“We call this smart working where no leaders and directors have an office. It is about transparency, being able to see leaders and seeing them working. Constant sharing of ideas is relevant to the scientific industry,” explains French.
To make the workspace conducive to allowing open communication, seeing different perspectives and the exchanging of ideas, GSK Asia has created ‘neighbourhoods’ where there are no specific desks for anyone.
“There are no specific desks for anyone with fluid sitting areas and workspaces. This means you can work anywhere while promoting the exchange of ideas,” notes French.
Even the ground floor, which is not considered GSK’s working space, has created revenue.
“By having a concierge, we realised ownership of open space increases quickly. As such, Google is using the space and leasing from us,” reveals French.
Moving forward, French expects the future workplace to look at intuitive technology.
“We are in the process of developing this whereby your laptop is recognised, and your presentation will automatically come out. In short, the building knows who you are,” he declares.
A record 740 corporate real estate professionals attended the CoreNet Global Summit 2018 which features more than 40 thought leaders shedding light on the critical relationship between an organisation’s productivity, bottom line, and effective CRE management.
The two-day summit revolved around nascent and current developments such as geopolitical shifts and technological disruption, which have complicated decision-making in many organisations across the Asia Pacific.
This story was first published by Asian Property Review in its July-August 2018 issue
If you are thinking of upgrading while still keeping your first property to earn some rental income, this article is for you. Property author, Khalil Adis, shares how he prepped his old Singaporean home to be tenant-worthy.
First time landlords are sure to have this mantra on repeat – I have to secure a tenant ASAP as each untenanted month is a loss of income, which leads to the three most dreaded words: Negative Cash Flow. Imagine not receiving any rental income to mitigate the cash payments towards servicing your new unit’s mortgage, monthly maintenance fees and renovations costs – oh, the horror!
Our first apartment unit was nearing the two-decade mark (it was purchased in 2000), so when my mom and I decided to put our former home up for rent, a lot of hard work, sweat and tears were involved in getting it ‘red-carpet’ ready.
"My 18-year old, 1,033 sq ft apartment unit with 3 bedrooms was listed on 22 May. We received an offer on 10 June, and exactly 2 weeks later on 24 June we handed the keys over to the new tenant!"
Let’s be real here, most upgraders and first-time landlords have little choice but to do D.I.Y renovations on their rental units due to financial constraint. I especially understand how tight one’s budget can be with a recently-purchased second property. Hence, that’s how I ended up as my own contractor-cum-handyman-cum-painter.
While I had applied the strategies found in my book, Property Buying for Gen Y, there were some new learnings which I gleaned along the way; after all, the learning is in the doing, eh? Here are the eight pointers which resulted in my unit’s successful and speedy closing:
#1 Set a goal and a budget
Before anything else, my mom and I sat down to discuss and make a decision on whether we should sell off or rent the place out. It might seem redundant but this step is vital as it helps you determine the next course of action.
My mom chose to rent out her property – the reason being that although the apartment is 18 years old, it is located within Jurong Lake District, which is touted to be Singapore’s future second CBD. Hence the capital appreciation potential is pretty robust. Also, since my mum is not working, the rental income will help to cover her mortgage cost and supplement her daily expenses.
With this in mind, we agreed upon a specific date and put forward an action plan to get everything done: to move out by 15 April and get the place ready for tenant viewing by mid-May. Initially, we had set a budget of S$4,000 (roughly Rm12,000), but we soon realised that we were too prudent and forgot to include the costs for professional cleaning, labour and other out-of-pocket expenses such as plumbing and electrical works.
We ended up spending S$7,000 (roughly RM20,880) – the lesson here is to remember to factor in additional repair costs for older homes. You will have to spend a little more than average to spruce up your (ageing) home. The investment will be worth it as nothing assures a tenant more than a homely and well-maintained unit.
#2 Get a good real estate agent
Not everything needs to be handled on your own, secure some help by hiring a reliable agent. Getting a neutral party involved is important as they do not have any emotional connection to your property and hence, can offer unbiased advice.
"Our agent’s tips went a long way in ensuring that our unit got rented out quickly at a fair market price – he was the one who pointed out that we should replace our toilet doors and get new starters for our fluorescent lights."
We were truly blessed, our agent even went above the call of duty by helping us change the faulty master bedroom door and light bulb before the handover. In addition, a quality agent will help you to screen prospective tenants, saving you from dead-end leads.
#3 Do an inventory check & change faulty items
Bolstered by our agent’s sharp eye, my mum and I decided to remove our rose-tinted glasses and view our unit with fresh eyes. Having lived in your first home for many years, you tend to accept your property’s flaws as a normality over time.
For instance, we did not initially notice the dim lighting, the spotty toilet flush in the guest bathroom or the perpetually damp spot near our washing machine which caused an ugly stain over time (pictured below).
Only after doing a thorough inventory check did we realise that there were at least a dozen things which would require replacing. Take note that faulty lighting and sub-par plumbing systems are more often than not the two main culprits in older homes.
As a landlord, the safety of your tenant is of utmost priority as you do not want to be held liable for any injuries they may sustain in your property. One of our window grilles near the kitchen sink was almost coming off the wall so we decided to replace it too.
#4 Refurbish the kitchen cabinets
Protest if you must, but the majority will agree that the kitchen is where the heart of the home is. This is also the first place which most couples (read, the wife) will check out when scouting out a rental home.
A great way to give your tired, old kitchen an upheaval without breaking the bank is by refurbishing the cabinets! We decided to go for a clean, minimalist and modern look with a white colour palette as this design is timeless and easy to clean.
We also got a brand new cooker hob and hood; your new tenants would not want to cook off the back of someone else’s grease.
#5 Consider chemical cleaning
Forget your typical sweep and mop routine, we are talking about the big leagues here, like chemical cleaning. A thorough cleaning is necessary for older apartments to get rid of stubborn stains and dirt which had accumulated over the years. We engaged a cleaning contractor who cleansed the entire apartment for only S$300 (roughly RM900). It was money well spent as gone were the accumulated dust in hard to reach places (top of windows), tough stains in the kitchen and bathrooms as well as watermarks on our walls.
Do not underestimate the power of a gleaming, sparkling clean property to boost the energy of an old apartment. After all, we Asians are all about ‘chi’ or energy, so a property giving off good vibes will help rein in even the pickiest of tenants.
#6 Give the entire house a fresh coat of paint
The key here is to stick with very light colours. This is because it is easier to capture the attention of a prospective tenant with a neutral colour scheme and repainting will not take up too much of your time (hire someone to do it otherwise).
My biggest regret was opting for a dark green colour scheme in the living room previously as it meant we had to apply five coats of white paint to cover it! It was so much work that it took three days to do cover the dark colour and even everything out. Check out the before and after images yourself:
A plus point of repainting is that the smell of fresh paint inspires confidence among the potential tenants; not only it’s a sign that you are a considerate landlord but tenants will appreciate the extra work you had put in to ensure their comfort and well-being.
#7 Service the air-conditioning system
This is a must to ensure that your air-conditioning units will be in tip-top condition. Moreover, servicing does not cost much, at most it is S$40 (roughly RM120) per unit. Be sure to highlight your good deed to prospective tenants and to casually drop the advantages of having clean air-cond filters – replacing dirty and clogged filters can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5%-15%, translating to lower electricity bills.
"Here is an extra tip: Throw in a freebie for your tenant by scheduling annual air-cond maintenance works by a professional. These inexpensive tune-ups will ward off the need for a costly air conditioner replacement and help keep your tenants longer. A happy camper will have no reason to move out."
#8 Study your property type before furnishing it
You will need to consider your property type and tenant demographic when deciding on the extent of furnishing – should you go with a partially or fully-furnished unit? My mom and I went for the latter, given that our apartment build is catered for family living. We felt that most of our potential tenants; couples looking to start a family or a young family who is upgrading, will already have purchased some furniture themselves or are planning to do so.
Therefore we will only provide some of the basics such as the dining table set, kitchen cabinet, side tables, a master bed and mattress while other essentials such as sofa, curtains, TV and clothes storage were not included. This strikes a good balance, I get to cater to a wider market (design preference can vary greatly) and my tenants are still able to have some fun in completing the furnishing and decorating of the place themselves.
My parting words of advice: When it comes to closing a deal, it is always best for landlords to take a back seat and let the agent handle the backend work. Trust your agent and leverage on his/her experience in managing tenants’ expectations; this will save you loads of time and energy in going back and forth with potential renters.
To all the eager landlords out there, may these strategic tips assist you in securing a tenant match, as quickly as it did for me.
This article was first published by iProperty.com..my
With the dust from the 14th Malaysian general election now settled, the newly minted Pakatan Harapan government has renewed investors’ confidence and sparked hope in the otherwise lull property market. We list down six reasons why KLCC is now attractive to foreign investors.
By Khalil Adis
Walk around Kuala Lumpur and you cannot help but feel a renewed sense of hope in the air among Malaysians post the 14th Malaysian general election. In fact, Malaysians appear to be smiling more than usual that even the notorious KL traffic has failed to put a dampener on their faces.
Call it a new Malaysia, if you will. However, this is indeed a watershed moment which saw a newly minted Pakatan Harapan government taking power and effectively putting an end to 61 years of uninterrupted rule under UMNO. With the promise to weed out corruption, the return of the rule of law by the Mahathir administration has ignited business confidence and renewed interest in the property market.
One area which has always been a perennial favourite among foreign investors is KLCC. Home to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, it was Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad who had the foresight to build it that has led to Kuala Lumpur being known all over the world. As if signalling a new dawn for Malaysia, KLCC’s skyline is set to welcome a new iconic landmark come 2023. Here are our findings why properties in KLCC are now ripe for picking.
#1: A new iconic landmark
Oxley Towers Kuala Lumpur City Centre is a freehold mixed-use development that is located within walking distance to the the Petronas Twin Tower and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Comprising an office tower, Jumeirah Kuala Lumpur Hotel with residences, SO/ Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Hotel with residences, and a retail podium, Oxley Towers Kuala Lumpur City Centre is set to be the next iconic skyline in KLCC with its sleek, ultra-modern architecture. At our recent site visit, construction work has already started and is making good progress with an expected completion date in 2023.
#2: Reputable Singaporean developer with a strong track record
When buying a property in Malaysia, the track record of a developer is of utmost importance. Oxley Towers Kuala Lumpur City Centre is being built by Oxley Holdings Limited. This home-grown Singaporean property developer has a wide and diverse property portfolio comprising development and investment projects in Singapore, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Myanmar, Australia, Japan and Vietnam. Some of its notable developments in Singapore include Oxley Tower, Oxley Bizhub and Oxley Edge.
The EdgeProp cites Oxley Holdings as having S$2 billion worth of land last year including en bloc site. This makes it one of the biggest landbanks held by a property developer in Singapore. Despite the recent cooling measures, Oxley Holdings is going ahead to launch at breakneck speed this year with a total of 3,000 units already launched during the first six months of the year. And another 900 units underway.
Not only is Oxley Holdings rich in landbanks, it is also financially strong. For 2018, so far, Oxley Holdings has sold a total of 948 units and delivered $1 billion in residential sales in Singapore.
#3: First SO/ Sofitel residence in the world
If you like fashion and enjoy the buzz of city life, then you are in for a real treat. The SO/ Sofitel hotel and brand is a playful mix of sophistication and the dynamic style of each locale. Highly creative and fashion-led, the SO/ Sofitel residences in KL will reflect the rich, multi-cultural tapestry that Kuala Lumpur is known for. The SO/ Sofitel tower is set to offer 210 hotel rooms and 590 residences. Designed for those who break the rules and are ahead of the curve, this is the place to see and be seen. To ensure your ultimate privacy, the hotel and residences lobbies will be separated. Did we also mention that SO/ Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Residences will feature the highest residential swimming pool in Malaysia overlooking KLCC?
#4: Get more bang on your bucks in a branded residence
The difference between staying in a branded versus a non-branded residence is as different as day and night. In keeping with its lifestyle luxury and playful theme, investors can expect only the best while living life at the top. Staying at SO/ Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Residences will mean access to a plethora of luxury services and some of the most happening parties the city has to offer.
For starters, residents will enjoy 24-hour residence concierge, bell/valet services and the Mixo Resident’s Lounge. This is where you can let your hair down with its resident DJ or take those #OOTD Instagram-worthy shots with complimentary Wifi access overlooking the famed twin towers as you sip a cocktail or two from its Resident Mixologist. It’s not all about partying though. SO/ Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Residences will also offer fitness enthusiast access to its SoFIT residence fitness centre, including personal attendant, towel service and water. To ensure you stay ahead of the curve, residents also get a press reader subscription with digital access to 2,000 plus daily newspapers and magazines. AccorHotels offers an Industry Leading Ownership Benefits Program, including top-tier status in Le Club AccorHotels Loyalty program.
#5: Good tenant pool
Buying a unit at SO/ Sofitel Kuala Lumpur is not just about all play. This is the address for those who have arrived that is within walking distance to Pavilion Bukit Bintang, Suria KLCC, KLCC Park and The Petronas Twin Towers, just to name a few. Shopping, entertainment and dining options are also aplenty ranging from the award-winning Nobu’s to your local mamak coffeeshops. For investors, this is where you can have access to some of the most sophisticated tenants at your feet. There are a high number of industries here ranging from government offices and embassies at the nearby Embassy Row to the petrochemical and MICE industries within KLCC. Take your pick.
#6: Enhanced connectivity via KLCC East MRT station
Located approximately just 200 metres away, KLCC East MRT station is part of the RM32.5 billion Sungei Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya (SSP Line) MRT project that was announced under Budget 2015. Measuring some 52.2km spanning from Sungai Buloh to Putrajaya MRT station, the SSP Line comprises 24 elevated and 11 underground stations (including KLCC East) When completed in 2022, the SSP Line is expected to generate a daily ridership of 529,000 while enhancing property values within its immediate vicinity.
Investment talk by Khalil Adis
Join Khalil Adis this weekend to find out what is in store in the Malaysian property market post GE-14.
Date: 18 & 19 August 2018
Venue: Oxley Gallery, 30 Stevens Road #02-01
*First 10 to RSVP on each day (10 copies on Saturday, 10 copies on Sunday) will each receive a copy of Khalil Adis's best-selling book 'Property Buying for Gen Y
An independent analysis from yours truly