Guest Post by Monika Tudja, Head of business development at Fried.com
Since the global financial crisis of 2008, many industries have suffered a significant downturn and experienced declining investment. But real-estate, which was at the very heart of the global financial meltdown, seems to have bucked the trend.
With interest rates dwindling, more and more investors are sinking their money into property and markets are booming, especially in the big global financial centres like London, New York, and Hong Kong.
This has driven employment in the real estate sector too, but with the advent of remote working as a normal business practice, are regular employment models in the sector are likely to change in the near future.
Remote working is a global growth employment model with around 80% of workers and employees being on a remote basis already in some sectors. Research suggests that around 50% of all US workers will be classified as remote workers by the end of 2016, and these numbers look likely to grow.
But while remote working works for some sectors, it doesn’t necessarily work for all, so the question is, does remote working work for Real Estate? It is an industry which has long stuck to a traditional model of offices on high streets and agents in suits and ties arriving into the office each morning before heading out to their various properties.
Most work is still done at the desk and this can often mean that the work-life balance for a real estate agent is not good. Demotivated staff leads to inefficient staff and if even if they are target or commission driven this can affect their performance for the company.
These are the factors which have led to many industries turning to remote working and there are plenty of reasons to think real estate is primed to follow suit.
Location, Location, Location
This has long been a mantra for the real estate industry, yet one not always applied to their own industry. Employees clock up thousands of miles a year in traveling from property to office to another property again. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Remote workers can skip trips to and from the office and focus solely on their local area. This not only saves of gas, but it allows them to offer a faster and more efficient service to their customers too.
It is also less and less necessary for a real estate agency to have big offices on every high street. Most people these days search for their property online so there is no reason why real estate companies cannot base their business there and make arrangements to meet potential buyers and sellers at properties or at neutral venues like coffee shops.
When central meeting places are on occasion needed, they are often easily booked through shared office spaces and meeting facilities, which are popping up in town and cities right across the country.
It is the explosion in online remote working tools that make the model such a viable one in this day and age.
Tools like Trello allow companies and employees to keep track of workload and have input into each others projects, while professional communication tools like Slack enable employees to communicate with each other just as well as if they were sat in the same office.
And most employers will also ensure all of their staff are set up with a VPN which will ensure that they can access and communicate sensitive information completely securely. VPNs are also beneficial to those working in international real estate who may need something to help them get round online censorship or access geo-restricted content online: a VPN can do both of these too.
But perhaps most significant to the real estate market is the fact that with more and more people working remotely, the customer demands real estate agents are encountering are changing too.
As more people step away from the commute and work from home, so they are looking less for apartments in big cities and more for houses in smaller towns and villages in the commuter belts.
If the customer demographic is changing in this way, the real estate industry needs to be able to adapt to meet those changing needs. And as the saying goes, ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’.
Real Estate is primed to move itself into a remote working model and it should resist. It is a model which suits the industry perfectly and which will be beneficial to both staff and employers.
Monika is the Head of business development at Fried.com - a website dedicated to educate individuals on how to protect their online privacy through comprehensive guides and tutorials. She is passionate about online privacy, cyber security and maintaining a "free web" for the entire globe.