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Government says 25% of firms will allow WFH after Covid – but will agents?

As official data on working from home is released, agents scotch ideas that frontline agency jobs can be done in your underpants.

Nigel Lewis

working from home wfh

Data just out from the government that reveals a quarter of companies will enable staff to work from home after the pandemic is unlikely to be mirrored within the property industry, leading firms have said.

The figures are contained within a survey of businesses by the Office of National Statistics, which quizzed businesses and found that 24% intend to use increased homeworking as a permanent business model going forward, while 28% are not sure. The rest, it implies, have no truck with the WFH revolution.

While many employees doing desk-based jobs in areas such as accountancy or the legal services are able to do their jobs at home, Lee Pendleton (pictured, below) of London agency James Pendleton says the excitement around working from home is more hype that reality.

“The property industry just isn’t set up for home working unless you’re working in a back-office role or you’re a self-employed lone wolf agent,” he says.

“If you employ people in our industry as frontline people then they have to be in the office, partly because the nurturing and coaching they need cannot be done if they’re working from home – yes, you can attend webinar or whatever but it’s not the same.

“You don’t get the flow of ideas and the spark or the rapport on a Zoom call, and conversations don’t flow – so we’re fewer and fewer of them as the pandemic eases as safety rules allow.”

Pendleton’s rival in the London market, Savills, agrees. In recent comments made within a blog, its Head of Residential Edward Lewis, said: “It’s clear that no one really wants to go back to a daily commute into the city but working from home has plenty of drawbacks.

“Not least, who in your household is doing the same thing, how many bedrooms can you convert into a home office, does the under-stairs cupboard have any natural light, does the internet work, can you stop checking the fridge for a snack, does the dog need a walk, and how practical is it really to use the ironing board as a desk. For those living or working from home alone, it can be really lonely and claustrophobic.”

Read the official data.

Read the Propertymark guide to working from home.

May 6, 2021

One comment

  1. I think working from home should be treated as an extension of the office. There are benefits that really suit our industry and need to network and spend time in the community. However if people are working from home – their set up needs to be formal and assessed. I think training can be done really well virtually now – the success of Able Agent proves that. But as I’m everything – moderations is key. Split time home / office – spend time training virtually but also person to person. Flexibility is key in all areas- and that will yield happy staff and better results.

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