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Flexible working: What Real Estate wants.

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​deverellsmith conducted a survey on the future of the workplace which aimed to expose how employers and employees felt about flexible working and other changes to the workforce. Survey respondents covered all sectors of the property lifecycle including: Finance, Investment, Planning, Development, Construction, Sales, Marketing and Management.

Overall, there was a 77%+ increase in companies offering flexible working post-pandemic: with only 46% of companies offering it before COVID, and now 82% of companies offer it after.

Property and Block Management have demonstrated the most significant change, as 50% of respondents had the option to work flexibly pre-COVID, which has now increased to 100% of total respondents who have the option to work flexibly.

"Due to advancements in Proptech and cloud-based computing, it is now easier than ever to manage a remote workforce and therefore these statistics are of no surprise. With Clients more than happy to save time through the use of virtual meetings, we have seen a significant change in client fulfilment needs. Whilst I believe working in the office has enormous benefits, I also believe employees will have more flexible working going forwards."

Michael Paul, Managing Director at Strangford Management,

Employers of the New homes sector have shown a lower interest in adopting a working from home employment model compared to other sectors, as only 33% of respondents marked a change. The employee response in New Homes has signalled high expectation of WFH as almost 100% of respondents expect the benefit as an offering. deverellsmith expect both employee and employer will need to compromise, one suggestion would be to implement flexible working reward initiatives and/or loyalty schemes which would also contribute as a valuable retention tool.

Estate Agency and Facilities Management employees were less enthusiastic towards flexible working than other sectors of the property lifecycle, accepting that the model is more challenging to implement considering the industries unavoidable hands-on aspect. This perspective, in comparison with employees of New Homes, signals confidence in selling virtually within the sector, due to the warranty on most buildings and large-scale investments, whereas buying existing homes through an Estate Agency need to be more attentive and personable to avoid unseen problems.

All seniority levels, apart from the associate level and executive level, had a majority expectation of flexible working being offered suggesting that overall, the employee results mirror the market, and expected outcome, in that flexible working has increased massively due to COVID and is likely to stay in some form for the foreseeable future.

What does this mean and what can you do?

  • Listen and look after your team

Offering regular internal feedback surveys or town halls give employees confidence that they’re being heard and can offer their input. This is also critical when hiring: when considering a company, 25.7% of those surveyed said they would ask current employees for their opinion, compared to 8.3% in 2019, and 48.6% would ask industry peers on their thoughts, compared to 25% last year.

  • Invest in the right tech, because your competitors will be

The desire to work remotely has only heightened since COVID-19, many employees are now viewing this as a norm. Ensuring that employees can feel and stay connected is crucial for retaining high quality talent and executing their tasks and responsibilities. Remember when Google introduced bean bags and the world went mad for it? It’s time to be more Google, offer the virtual bean bag in one way or another.

  • Be open to innovative employment models

Gone are the days that a bonus was seen as a benefit, gym memberships, discount apps and lunch vouchers are all respected highly by employees, but these don’t always have to come at such a cost. Implementing early finishes, volunteering days and a more laid-back dress code are all well received across the company.

  • Capitalise on your brand values and external content

Online presence is now becoming as or more important than bricks and mortar, when asked how employees research potential employers – the company website and online content came out on top – at 88.6% and 82.9% of respondents, respectively.

deverellsmith recently launched a new benefits package, our focus is on hiring the best talent, improving your skills and creating an environment you want to stay in. Basically, we put people, not profit at the centre of everything we do. Our benefits package is a collaboration of progressive ideas designed to make our employees time with us easier and more enjoyable. View the package here.