Now is really not a good time to be a commercial landlord. During lockdown, businesses found that they could adapt to new ways of working from home to keep their company functioning.
Fenestration was in the same boat. For those who weren’t furloughed, plenty turned to digital solutions, from home, in order to keep in contact with their customers. Now we’re back to work, it seems many are still working from home.
You do something different for long enough and it sticks. So will working from home become standard practice?
New way to work
Our industry is split in various ways that are different to other sectors. You can’t work from home if you’re a manufacturer, or you have a showroom to run, or install things. But you can work from home if you work in accounts, or you’re a BDM, or in customer services. You only need a phone and a couple of screens and you’re golden.
In other sectors, like finance, or tech, or banking, there are plenty who can work from home, and have continued to do so even though the option to return to the office is open.
The reaction, I have found, from those working from home and businesses is that it actually worked better than expected, productivity has been good and the business has continued to function.
Think of the benefits. No commuting to work if you don’t need to travel. It cuts down on fuel consumption and is better for the environment. For those who have families, that means more precious time at home with the most important people. Productivity looks to be as good if not better in some cases based on anecdotal commentary. Indeed, the mass majority of homeowners I have seen since returning to work are all continuing to work from home and are communicating with their teams via Zoom, Teams, Skype or other similar platforms.
During my time at home I was able to get my work done, and if I worked at a business where I could choose to remain at home rather than go into the office then I would choose to stay at home. As it is, my day job is in an installations business with a showroom to run and homeowners to go and see. One of the silver linings of my time at home was the extra family time. I’ll always hold that dear to me.
As I mentioned at the start, this is not a good time to be a commercial landlord right now. I was speaking with a client of mine who was explaining to me that their entire office teams were to work from home permanently now and that they were cancelling the lease of their office space to save money. I follow accounts on social media where the same story has been reported also.
As we enter what looks to be one hell of a downturn, companies are going to look to save money where they can, including in fenestration. Rent is one of the largest overheads for a business that does not own the building they operate out of. So if they have found that their staff can work from home well, and they don’t need to come into an office, then the logical step is to look at whether they actually need to be paying for office space. Not great timing for all the office blocks they have been building in the centre of Leeds near me!
Its not just office space. The use of company cars could be on its way down as less travelling is required to do our jobs. That means less expenses. Fewer overnight stops in hotels. Less money spent on fuel. BDMs are able to get in touch with their customers quite easily over the phone or via email and action whatever requests or queries are needed to make sure clients are happy. We are finding now that face-to-face meetings are not required to get that kind of work done. Which, given how precious time is right now in rebuilding our businesses perhaps isn’t a bad thing at this moment in time.
Of course, most of us will miss that interaction with another human being. So much has been postponed or cancelled for 2020. The casual meetings and get together we took for granted don’t look like they’re going to reappear any time soon. As social beings, people for the most part like to interact with other people. All being well, if we get a successful vaccine, we can resume these meetings and gatherings and put some dates back in our diaries to look forward to.
That being said, it is still possible to deliver a high quality B2C or B2B customer experience by simply being regular with your contact, being clear in your communication and acting on tasks and requests from clients as quickly as possible. The speed and efficiency of which can impress people on the other side of that chain.
Do I think working from home will be normal from now on? Yes. Lots of us did it already, even more do it now. You make a change for long enough and it sticks. I expect more and more companies to ask those who can work from home to do so as it benefits both parties in a number of ways. Which, if this remains the case, is going to mean a hell of a lot more dedicated home offices spaces. Good news for the businesses that sell the goods needed to make work spaces!
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