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5Q PropTech Interview – James Pellatt Director of Workplace and Innovation at Great Portland Estates

December 23, 2021

1. You have a hugely dynamic profile and background. Could you briefly describe who you are and what has brought you to where you are today?

As Director of Workplace and Innovation at Great Portland Estates, I am responsible for ensuring that we stay ahead of trends affecting workplace such as wellness and flexibility whilst implementing the most appropriate technology that enhances our offer.

I’ve worked in real estate all my life, responsible for the delivery of over 15 million sq ft of offices around the world.

I’ve always been interested in improving efficiency and with the opportunity offered by the growth of PropTech I have been able to focus purely in this world over the past three years.

2. How can the real estate sector engage with PropTech to bring the built and digital environments together?

The best engagement comes when a real estate owner has developed a series of use cases and defined problems that it needs to solve.

It can then approach PropTech suppliers with an open-minded attitude in the spirit of collaboration to listen to potential solutions.

Once engaged constant feedback is important to allow for continuous innovation.

3. Great Portland Estates has pledged net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. What innovative approaches are being explored in order to reach this goal?

We are actively seeking any opportunity we can to measure and analyse data relating to achieving our tough ESG goals.

How we measure, collate and display data is one of the key parts of increasing engagement in our teams as well as hopefully occupiers.

We have created a couple of trial Digital Twins to understand if we can deliver improvements to maintenance and reduce energy consumption, but also considering how we can use ConTech to deliver efficiencies in construction to reduce the embedded carbon in our developments.

4. You are a board member for the British Council for Offices. What are your thoughts on office operation post-Covid 19 and how can PropTech support a new reality?

I believe that the office is far from dead, the value of physical interaction outweighs a virtual world.

A hybrid world is likely to stay, therefore it is as important as ever to make our buildings as attractive to occupiers – what makes the commute worth it?

This means that the buildings have to meet user needs, be sustainable, healthy and exciting places to be.

5. How can London continue to prove itself as a leading PropTech Hub?

In short – yes!  The mix of talent, funds, property and network means it is well placed to continue to be a centre of innovation going forwards.

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