A third of agencies say at least some of their staff will be working from home permanently when the Coronavirus pandemic ends.
A survey by The Guild of Property Professionals reveals that while over 80 per cent of agencies believe a traditional bricks and mortar office will remain important - and that this would continue to form the basis of their business model - there are different views as to what form this would take.
When asked if they would consider a hub style agency in the future with agents working remotely, half said yes while the other 50 per cent said they were happy with their current model and wouldn’t want to change.
The Guild consists chiefly of smaller independent agencies, which according to chief executive Iain McKenzie makes it more likely they will regard a High Street presence as critical to promoting their brand and services, and to help them be part of their community.
“While most said that their office environment would need to be set up differently to ensure social distancing restrictions and health guidelines were adhered to, the majority were hoping to return to their offices and keep their agency model as it was” notes McKenzie.
“Although websites, portals, social media, and more recently virtual viewing and valuation tools, are key elements to the estate agency, many still feel that a physical office presence and being able to interact with the public will remain a large part of their business going forward, even with social distancing measures in place.”
In the short term, he says agencies are clearly open to accommodate whatever changes are required to meet restrictions imposed by the virus crisis.
“Around 53 per cent of members said that they would have fewer desks in their offices, with approximately a third saying they would enable some of their employees to work remotely on a permanent basis. If the last few months has taught us anything, it is that agents need to be adaptable, ready to innovate and of course resilient” adds McKenzie.
He says the Guild has worked with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to develop the six-point guide for agents returning to work safely.