Archilyse is Asking: How is the Real Estate Industry Standing up to

Interview with Roman Schneider, CCO of Archilyse

Roman Schneider is CCO at Archilyse, a company specialised in the digitisation and analysis of real estate to empower decisions and optimise processes along the entire real estate value chain. In the last interview of our series, Roman talks about how he and Archilyse reacted to the lockdown measures triggered by the Corona outbreak. He also shares with us how he and the Archilyse team are dealing with the current situation and what they have learned from it. 

In the “Standing up to Sars-Cov-2” interview series, we feature personalities from the real estate industry. We want to promote the exchange and encourage all real estate players to stay strong during this challenging time.

1. In what ways were and are you – as a company – most affected by the Sars-Cov-2 outbreak (e.g. decline in orders, termination of operations, etc.)?

First of all, we were affected by the transfer of all activities to the home office. Although this was not a problem for us, due to the size and composition of the team, it did change the processes and collaboration. Staff management became a more demanding task. Everything that had previously been discussed over the desk or in the hallway now suddenly had to be discussed via the digital communication channels.

On sales and marketing, the lockdown had the effect that physical meetings and events could no longer take place. They had to be conducted via digital channels. Thus, we quickly turned our planned business breakfast into a webinar.

On the order side, the wheel continued to turn as usual at first, and in the initial phase we hardly felt any impact, but in the meantime, it has become clear that many potential customers have put their projects “on hold” and meetings and workshops have also been postponed accordingly.

2. What measures (technical, organizational, customer-specific) have been taken in your company? What tips can you give others based on your experience?

As a tech startup, we are basically well prepared for home office, and remote work from across the entire continent was already normal for us before the crisis. But when the lock-down began to take effect, we made sure that all employees were able to work from home.

From early on, we also stipulated that all important documents and tools, such as the personal laptop, should always be taken home so that we could switch to home office virtually overnight – and unfortunately this is what happened.  But this enabled us to continue working without interruption and I can also say that our team reacted brilliantly to the situation. We even saw a slight peak in the productivity of our employees.

Of course, we had and still have an eye on our expenses and imposed a complete hiring stop due to the uncertainty that arose. We reviewed all CAPEX measures and, where needed, restricted them.

As probably all companies did, we examined to implement short-time work, but then consciously decided against it, as it would not have made sense in our case. All our employees are working at full capacity, we have a long backlog of orders and want to prepare ourselves for the phase after the lockdown.

3. What was your approach, e.g. did you think in different scenarios? Which sources of information or methodological approaches did you choose?

We followed developments in the media and relied mainly on official information from the government and the BAG. In addition, some of our investors support us with information material and tips.

We drew up an internal position paper in which we tried to cover all relevant points and derived various scenarios with different time horizons. This helped us to develop a common view within the management team and to initiate and implement appropriate measures.

4. Looking back on the last few weeks, what would you do differently today? What conclusions can you already draw from this?

I believe that we acted well within the bounds of our possibilities, also because of the flexibility that we still have due to our current team size of 21. Communication in a situation like this is always a big challenge, especially because we are in a phase of a growing team and therefore had some new team members – Locking back I would pay more attention to this fact.

5. Where do you see the greatest challenges or threats in the current situation? How do you deal with them?

The balance between continuing to build and expand is certainly a challenge. On the one hand, we want to be ready “when everything is normal again”. On the other hand, we need a cautious approach, geared to a longer period of economic weakness. We need to ask ourselves: What investments are necessary and make sense? Where should we rather hold back?

I think many of our customers and prospects feel the same way, and we are now seeing this in the lead generation, for example. Nevertheless, we should not lose our entrepreneurial confidence.

After all, PropTechs, in particular can help the industry to take the step into the “new normality” – a horrible term – and to seize the available opportunities.

6. Are there any positive aspects you can draw from this crisis? What opportunities are there?

I have to say, I am impressed by our team. They really pushed themselves during this time and we were able to make many important steps despite the difficult circumstances.

In general, I can see that the topic of digitisation in the real estate industry has been given a boost, and I am curious to see how the journey will continue.

I could also feel that we were moving closer together and there was a greater sense of solidarity, and perhaps you could even say that a little more humanity has arrived. The “stay healthy”, for example, is no longer an empty phrase.

7. Let’s travel into the past before the crisis – what tips would you give yourself from today’s perspective?

Clearly, I should take the expense receipts from the office … and yes, a spare gas bottle for the grill …

8. Let’s travel into the future and think of April 2021 – What will have changed permanently as a result of this crisis?

Let us hope that the crisis is over then. I do not believe that crises really bring new trends and developments. However, I think, existing processes of change are strengthened and accelerated. This is probably also the case with the digitisation of the real estate industry. There I see various possible and far-reaching changes.
Let me elaborate on three examples:

  1. Many companies have now sought the direct route to the customer and are increasingly turning to e-commerce. The ongoing development of “Disintermediation” is likely to intensify, which will have an additional impact on the retail sector. This sector is already under pressure, and thus the pressure on retail space will increase.
  2. In the area of corporate real estate, the question will arise as to what extent open office concepts still make sense, especially with the collective experience that – what a surprise! – working at home does work. This will have a significant impact on office design and thus on the demand for, but also the quality of space.
  3. In the apartment and house market, I can imagine that after the experience of three months with the whole family in a city apartment, there will be an increased demand for bigger and more quality space.

All these points offer opportunities and but also risks for the entire sector.

9. How are you currently preparing for the time after Corona? Are there any measures that you are already taking?

Archilyse is still a young company and we are currently in the process of building the organisation. We are working on strengthening the Archilyse brand and raising awareness of our solutions within the real estate industry. We have now intensified this development work on various levels so that, once everything is up and running again, people will know us and how we can support them in the upcoming digital transformation of their business models. Maybe this interview will also contribute to that…

Thanks a lot, Roman Schneider, for these interesting insights!

Stay tuned!

Read also the other exciting interviews with Markus Stadler from PriceHubble or with Jan Eckert of JLL. We are publishing interesting content for the real estate industry regularly