After the virus – how the industry might look

by Lee Bradbury

Estate agent recruitment guru Anthony Hesse from “property industry eye” has been outlining his view of what he thinks the industry will look like, once the coronavirus crisis is over.

The MD of the UK’s longest-established estate agency recruitment consultancy Property Personnel says that there are long-term changes and lessons to be learnt, which will re-shape the profession for many years to come.

He explains: “Over the past week or so of lockdown, I’ve been speaking to a number of senior directors in the big estate agency firms.

“And time after time, the perspective I’ve been getting is that we are inevitably going to see some massive restructuring taking place in the estate agencies of the future.

“Firstly, and most obviously, a new awareness of just what technology can do is going to drive decision making going forward.

“The ease and speed with which people have taken to communication platforms such as Zoom, Skype, and Messenger – and some of these individuals doing so for the first time – mean that virtual viewings and even virtual valuations could become the norm.

“But what is going to be interesting is the knock-on effect which this will have on staffing.

“Directors will ask why their agency doesn’t do more of what worked so successfully during time under lockdown.

“This means that operations are likely to be streamlined, and people previously brought in as temporary staff – such as those carrying out viewings at weekends, for example – might find that their workloads have melted away.

“Similarly, agencies with several branches across a relatively small geographic area will decide that a single office can do the job of three, with significant cost savings as a result.

“But I think that the most important shake-up will come from a change in the way people in the industry will view their own profession.

“Difficult though the current situation is, this new experience of working exclusively from home will remind staff of the importance of spending more time with their families.

“They will become increasingly aware of the frustrations of their job – such as the hassle of the daily commute or having to work at weekends.

“What’s more, those who have been treated poorly by their current employers won’t forget the experience in a hurry, and will start to look for other jobs – either within the industry or elsewhere.

“Once this crisis is over, I expect to see a seismic shift in people moving around from job to job, and from profession to profession, with some of them making the move to becoming self-employed.

“Inevitably, a number of experienced and talented staff will leave, who we will be sad to see go and will be hard to replace.

“During the horrors of a global pandemic, it’s hard to see past the next few hours ahead.

“The truth is that one day we will emerge out the other side and enter something approaching normality once again.

” One of the lasting legacies of this coronavirus outbreak will be an increased understanding of why a good work/life balance is so important.

And it’s the agencies that recognise this which will be the ones retaining and attracting quality staff in the future.”

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