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Working From Home: Is the shift away from offices permanent?

A leading business consultancy says the level of working-from-home in the UK by 2025 will be five times that before the pandemic.

Estate agents are currently advised to work from home where possible through the current national lockdowns across the UK; some agents have been working this way almost continuously since the first national lockdown began almost 10 months ago.

Now Deloitte UK - which has itself already announced the closure of four of its 50 offices in this country as a result of increased remote working - says in a forecast based on a survey of corporate chief financial officers: “Business leaders believe the pandemic will permanently change the business landscape. CFOs anticipate a five-fold increase in home working relative to pre-pandemic levels by 2025 and believe that the state will be both larger and more active in the long term.”

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A total of 90 CFOs participated in the latest survey, including those from 12 FTSE 100 and 44 FTSE 250 companies.

In the short term over three quarters expect Covid-19 restrictions on movement and activity to continue through the first half of 2021, while 57 per cent expect these measures to be removed permanently in the third quarter of the year.

In the longer term the CFOs believe that the pandemic is set to trigger a fundamental change in the business environment.  An overwhelming net balance of 98 per cent expect flexible and home working to increase – with a five-fold increase in home working expected by 2025.

Already this year one agency, Century 21 UK, has introduced a new business model called Solo, which is designed to allow self-employed agents can work from home and share a territory with High Street based Century 21 agents.

In recent months the Guild of Property Professionals suggested that in a survey of buyers, the importance of a home office increased from 12 to 21 per cent, with more prospective buyers happy to consider homes further away from their workplaces as a result of increased working from home. 

Before the first lockdown, employed Britons were willing to live an average of 23 miles away from their workplace, but later in 2020 that that changed to 56 miles away.

Poll: After the pandemic is your agency...

PLACE YOUR VOTE BELOW


  • Andrew Stanton CEO Proptech-PR    Proptech Real Estate Influencer

    Siemens who turn over 98BN a year, the biggest European manufacturer, changed to a permanent WFH model in the early days of the first wave of the pandemic, with the option for workers to be in 'the office' two days a week if they wanted. Working from home is not a fad, Covid-19 has made everyone realise that with low tech, working from home - works. In agency the buyers or renters want to view property, they have zero interest in the path the agent takes to secure that property. So if working from your bathroom as a one person company, or living it large in a big expensive, pandemic friendly office space on the high street is your model, it makes zero difference to the client. What is now the biggest question - will lean, agile agents dumping big static office costs, but who use tech and social media effectively, be better suited to the Amazon, click now get it tomorrow client, all indications are - yes.

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    Last time I looked, 95% of residential sales continue to be carried out by High Street Estate Agents.

     
  • Richard Spiller

    Have been a working from home agent since 2005, lower overheads, lower fees to clients, great lifestyle, said it was the future and was laughed at....if you want to be your own boss and earn £100kpa, Redhomes.co.uk

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    The WFH model has accelerated years in months .There is still a place for team working post pandemic but in old buildings on the high street with limited parking - why ?
    In the meantime stay at home and do your bit those that are not

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    I suppose it depends on where you are located? My boss has taken the view to have most of us working from home, with just one of us in the office for essential visits, rental maintenance, key collection etc. however; where we are, most of our competitors are fully staffed. So what do we do

    Our town is very much a traditional town, mostly retired people and whist they are catching up with technology, they do still prefer the "older" ways.

    In time, I do believe we will go to a non-high street model, regardless of what the competition do... when that will be though, I do not know.

    I guess it is whatever works best for you in your location

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    The high street needs to pivot and estate agency offices are a part of that. Still essential for lettings, not at all essential for sales. No reason for buyers and sellers to come to an office other than for the agent to show off the coffee machine

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    The key with reference to working from home is productivity or more importantly the lack of. Busy, buzzy offices create competition in a sales environment and allow high engagement both internally and with clientele. I've seen both sides of the coin and this has definitely confirmed to me that the high street shop front is here to stay and I'd never want to be solely a hybrid or online agent!

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    Hate working from home I want my home to my my home not a place of work. Trying to communicate with agents who have been working from home has been a joke - usually very slow if any response

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