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Article by Shaun Simons, Director & Co-Head, Colliers City Fringe
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for many, especially those in the real estate industry. The uncertainty brought by the regular, and at times frustrating, change in guidelines means that companies are hesitant about investing in their workspace as no one quite knows how tomorrow will look. During the first phase of lockdown, companies invested millions of pounds into making spaces Covid-19 compliant and they now, understandably, don’t want to spend vital cash reserves on additional measures as there is no confidence in a timescale for when employees can return to a workspace or in what numbers.
Speaking from a company, whose foundations have been built on working together and collaborating, we understand first-hand that the workplace is always going to play an important role in the professional landscape. The majority of the team here at Colliers City Fringe have been here since they left school and our knowledge and expertise has been constantly progressing as a result of an interactive environment which lends itself to learning from each other. This reflects data from the recently launched report by Peldon Rose, in which 89% of respondents reported that learning from the colleagues they work alongside is intrinsically important to their development. This sentiment was even stronger where a head office is based with 92% of Londoners believing a collaborative approach to working bolstered coaching and mentoring within a company.
So, when we were all forced to work from home in March although we adapted to this new dynamic, it certainly wasn’t possible to achieve the same levels of productivity and collaboration that we are able to in the office. In fact, findings from the report also suggest that the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, has dramatically impacted collaboration, with the results showing daily collaboration between colleagues dropped by 14% across the initial lockdown period.
However, there have been some positives which have come from this new way of working. We have more greatly embraced technology which, in some areas, has made us more efficient. Although face to face meetings are a vital part of our business it is clear that a great number of meetings can be completed virtually, which means huge savings on travel time. Moving forward, I think we’ll see companies embracing a more flexible approach when it comes to meetings, using virtual meetings for efficiency but integrating this with face to face meetings to maintain strong customer relationships. This sentiment is also shared by the report statistics, with 41% of respondents stating that socialising should take place in the office.
While it’s unclear what the future holds, the physical workplace will always be important to our industry, our team need to be around each other to discuss ideas and we often require instant, personable feedback to give our clients the best possible solution. As a result, the office still has an integral space in the future of our industry and numerous others, not only as a learning space, but as a collaborative hub.