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2024 vision: Navigating New Zealand’s property and workplace landscape

24 February 2024, by Kate Horton

What can we expect from 2024? Join us on a journey into the future of New Zealand’s property and workplace landscape with TwentyTwo’s Kate Horton. Kate explores what she thinks we will see in our main centres and the broader trends influencing commercial real estate, offering predictions that share a blend of strategic foresight and personal insights for 2024.

Key highlights include…

  • Auckland: A beacon of bright lights and optimism, driven by private sector dynamism
  • Tauranga: A rising star with a CBD marked by cranes and a forecasted workforce surge by 2026
  • Waikato: A key player benefiting from population growth and a strategic commitment to health
  • Wellington: Facing challenges amid government cost-cutting
  • Christchurch: The land of opportunity on the back of strategic rebuild projects getting completed, increasing commercial investment and the return of tourism

Beyond cityscapes, this blog delves into wider expectations:

  • A sharpened focus on delivery and performance
  • A strategic pause on development until significant value becomes evident
  • Embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and flexible work models for a competitive edge
  • The challenge facing traditional HR models, paving the way for a focus on digitisation, authentic leadership and managing transient workforces
  • The revolution of workspaces through tech-led workplace design

Read on as Kate expands her predictions, offering a unique glimpse into the future of New Zealand’s property and workplace landscape in 2024.

These predictions were first shared at CoreNet Global NZ’s ‘Predictions and Resolutions’ panel event. Emceed by CoreNet Young Leader Ben Laing, Kate was joined by Scott Compton of Warren and Mahoney, Ed Jennings of WiredScore and Aimee Baker of JLL to offer her insights and predictions on the future of property and the workplace in 2024.

A tale of five cities

A whistle-stop tour of NZ’s five main cities in the context of commercial property…

AUCKLAND’s big city lights will shine brighter in 2024 with an optimistic outlook driven by the private sector, immigration and population growth. A concerted effort to reduce inner city crime takes effect and the waterfront feels more vibrant with the return of people to offices, students and cruise ships re-entering the harbour.

Kate’s prediction? Despite the optimism of a big city enjoying population growth, Auckland’s post-Covid recovery continues and it’s unlikely we will see any cranes on the waterfront for the next 12-18 months. 

TAURANGA is the rising star of NZ’s cityscape and has a CBD firmly punctuated by cranes. With Tauranga City Council pouring around $500m into facilities and enhancements in the CBD, an estimated 3000+ workers are predicted to occupy new CBD buildings by 2026.

Kate’s prediction?  The initiatives being taken by Tauranga City Council to activate and reinvigorate the CBD will see a material uplift in commercial and retail activity in the central city within two years.

WAIKATO is the one to watch, benefiting not only from Auckland and Tauranga’s population growth, but the MoU to develop a third medical school in the region.

Kate’s prediction? Waikato aspires to be a world leader in indigenous health and addressing inequality. 2024 will be the year the Chiefs take out the Super Rugby competition.

WELLINGTON, where the mood is pessimistic. Despite having experienced a change in government before, this time it feels different. Government’s demand to reduce costs are being delivered through the use of blunt instruments rather than a fine scalpel, reducing capability and capacity to deliver. Expect major programmes to stop as the Finance Minister goes in search of money.

Kate’s prediction? There will be a decline in population due to talent leaving. Wellington house prices will drop and commercial vacancies will increase through government consolidation.

CHRISTCHURCH is the place to be. The rebuild is finally coming together with key anchor projects and infrastructure in place, renewed commercial confidence and investment, significant new infill and greenfield housing supporting population growth and the return of international students and tourists.

Kate’s prediction? Investor and developer interest will escalate in 2024 given the growing activation of the central city seeing increased value in CBD properties. Scott ‘Razor’ Robertson will select an all-Canterbury back line for the All Blacks.

TwentyTwo’s focus

Key activities and predictions in light of the above…

Sharpening focus

Taking a leaf out of the Government’s playbook, there will be a sharpened focus on delivery, performance and implementing change, no matter whether it’s consolidation or growth. It’s getting it done that’s important.

Our prediction: Programme and project management skills will be in high demand. Agile leaders who can navigate complexity and deliver will thrive.

Holding back on development

With everything in property more expensive – albeit stabilising – we don’t expect to see much development activity until we get our heads around these costs.

Our prediction: Development discussions will be paused until the market can see ‘significant’ value being delivered from ‘new’. Refurbishment and repurposing of older assets and seismic strengthening will continue in all markets.

Embracing the entrepreneurial

Hybrid work, demand for flexibility and having side hustles all suggest that organisations should be embracing the entrepreneurial spirit in support of their talent where spaces are designed for learning, networking and experiences. What you don’t have in your office, you can borrow from the precinct helping to deliver a competitive edge to home working.

Our predictions

  • We’ll see greater support for entrepreneurial spirit and the development of learning-centred environments/campus philosophy in workplaces
  • Traditional HR models will be challenged as Al, outsourcing and virtual HR assistants de-value in-house HR administrative practices. Learning, training and experiences becomes the new HR focus
  • As Gen Z struggles to find meaning in work, there will be a renewed focus on developing (authentic) leadership capability and managing transient workforces. Forget ‘Workplace Strategy’ and start thinking about the ‘Strategy of Work’
  • Workplace design will become technology-led rather than architecturally-led
  • For lower-grade office spaces, rather than face the risk of long-term vacancies, we will  continue to see some innovation and repurposing in this space

Conceptual design will be founded on actionable utilisation insights, human behaviour and creating technology experiences and capabilities to deliver that competitive edge. Sensors and IoT will support a more live, adaptable workplace and people will continue to return to work for an improved virtual collaborative experience, interaction and technology mentoring.


About the author

Travel lover (recently Mexico), hockey player. Lives on Waiheke Island.

A critical thinker, strategist and facilitator, Kate joined TwentyTwo early in 2024 to lead our Strategy22 practice area. She has developed consultation programmes, property and workplace strategies, research initiatives and thought leadership across Aotearoa and is passionate about bringing people together to create positive momentum and change and is a sharp thinker and connector of thought. 

With over 15 years’ experience in diverse sectors, clients and projects, Kate has worked with stakeholders to deliver sophisticated consultation and engagement programmes for leading organisations such as Jasmax, Not Yet Known, Unispace and, more recently, with NZ Police’s organisational and policing strategy team.

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