With the UK government lifting Plan B restrictions and as we move into a post-pandemic world, it can be difficult to decide what the best style of working is for your letting agency and for your agents.
Hybrid working has provided an opportunity for us to split time between working in the office as well as working from home. Almost two years later, this style of working has become second nature for many of us.
Although the UK government has ended the work from home order, there are still many benefits of hybrid working when it is implemented correctly.
Find out what works best for your agents
It is important that you find out what works best for your employees. This can include the number of days they prefer to be in the office, whether they want to work entirely remotely or whether they prefer to spend all of their time in the office. Sending out surveys or conducting meetings with staff are good ways of getting to know the different attitudes towards working styles in the workforce.
Gathering information about employees and their preferences can help you to tailor an appropriate plan for the whole workforce or – depending on the size of your company – a specific schedule per department or per person.
This is especially important as some people might not have proper spaces at home to conduct their work and might prefer to be in the office each day, while others might have home offices or designated spaces that they can be productive in.
Create a plan for your agents to follow
Once you have a clearer picture of your employees’ work preferences and needs, a plan can be created that employees must stick to. This way you can be aware of who will be in the office on specific days.
Even though the plan will be set in place for employees, it should always remain flexible. It is important to gather feedback and make necessary changes as you go along – what works on paper might not always work in practice.
Implementing proptech that would allow your agents to access all of the information they need in one centralised system whether they are at home or in the office could make a hybrid working plan more successful.
Stay up to date with government announcements
Although things seem to be becoming more stable, staying up to date with government announcements is essential during these uncertain times. It is possible that your business could have a hybrid working plan in place, but changes might need to be made when a new rule or regulation is put in place.
The possibility of a lockdown or the implementation of more stringent restrictions (in which your agency would be completely remote) should also be accounted for in case changes need to be made quickly.
Remember that there is value in the hybrid working approach
It is important to remember and to remind employees that there are benefits to this approach. It can be difficult to convince those who prefer to be completely in the office or completely working from home.
A hybrid approach provides a balance between the social aspect and collaboration that thrives in offices and the safety and convenience of working from home.
In a 2021 study by Microsoft, it was found that more than half (51%) of UK workers who currently have the choice to mix remote and office working would consider leaving their company if this hybrid option was removed. In 59% of participants, they found that hybrid working went from a “nice to have” to a “must-have.”
Travelling to and from the office will be reduced, which has a few benefits in and of itself. This can save your agents time with, for example, the use of virtual viewings that don’t require travelling to a property, or a simple phone call that might have otherwise been an in-person visit. Also, less travel is better for the environment as there will be fewer emissions polluting the air.
This approach can save your business money by potentially downsizing to a smaller office space. With fewer agents coming into the office at a given time, the need for larger office space might not be necessary anymore. The saved money can be used to grow your property portfolio or can be reinvested into strengthening the company with new staff, new facilities or technology.
If your company has already implemented hybrid working, be sure to look back at how it has been working for your business over the past two years. This data can be analysed to figure out if productivity has increased and you can make decisions regarding how many days your agents should be in the office.