New Year Optimism
2021 was a beacon of light to us all in a year of real darkness. There was a collective feeling that if we could we just get through 2020, everything would be OK.
The problem is, 2021 is here, and we’ve found that really, it’s all just more of the same.
Of course, the nation knew that there was never going to be some magical reset button that was pressed on midnight of New Year, but it helped to have a mantra of hope that circulated in the back of our minds.
And on top of that, we’ve exhausted our list of ‘live your perfect lockdown life’ ideas; we’re pounds heavier from all the baking, wet and muddy from all the walking, fed-up with endless Zoom quizzes and frustrated at the knitting/DIY/language learning/painting project that languishes in the corner, untackled for weeks (perhaps months – time seems to be a much more gloopy concept now). Whatever initial mental energy that got us through the first lockdown seems to be in short supply the third time around.
Positivity in Property
What relevance does this all have in a property management blog? Well, January – packed as it is normally with resolutions and positivity – tends to be a time when industry players look forward to the trends that will mark the year ahead, trying to develop strategies that stay one step ahead of the curve.
But for many, staking anything on the year ahead seems like a fool’s errand. Even one of the fundamental premises of property management – that people will always need commercial office and retail space – is not the guarantee it once was.
But despite all this, at Jackson Sims, we’re still feeling hopeful. Because actually, in many ways, such revolutionary change highlights to us the things that always stay the same. Being given such concrete evidence of what remains fundamental is a useful tool for developing a strategy that is based on realities, rather than trends. So at Jackson Sims, that’s what we’re going to pin our hopes – and our strategy – on in 2020.
This has to be the most apparent ‘truth’ that has arisen throughout the Covid crisis. There was a time before the pandemic where many feared that our gravitation towards technology – and particularly social media - meant that we were losing a sense of the personal. But now that we’ve been forced down an avenue where our interactions are exclusively digital, we’ve come to recognize the fact that these online interactions are only a poor simulacrum of real, human interaction. Our desperation to get back to the pub, our exhaustion with endless Zoom calls – these are all symptoms which indicate that we still crave the human touch.
Fortunately, at Jackson Sims, this has always been something central to our way of operating. We’re not merely in the business of recruiting people, we’re in the business of recruiting people people: people who value connection, who know how to communicate, who are able to couch benefits in human terms, not merely P&L ones.
So on this basis, we feel well geared-up for the year ahead – continuing to recognize that buildings serve those who use them, which means that those in the field of property are ultimately about people as much as places.
Flexible and efficient working
Whilst this might almost seem to be in contrast to our point above, what this last year has shown is that – whilst we still need real human connection – there are many more ways to work than the traditional, office-based 9-5. Some things absolutely need that in-person connection; but we’ve recognised that there are so many more mundane, administrative activities that can be undertaken online. Traditional adherents to rigid office protocol are living in the dark ages and failing to do justice to the work-life balance of their workers.
This has two-fold implications within Jackson Sims. Within our offices – well, it just reinforces our current position. With an international team like ours, the only way to accommodate a diverse set of workers, with different needs, in different time-zones, is to operate on a truly flexible basis. It requires both real respect for and open communication with our team members, but also creative thinking about how we use technology to make that happen.
But more than this, it has an impact on how we engage with the industry as a whole. A post-Covid world may well look very different, and industry professionals have to be ready for this. How will residential spaces accommodate home-working better? How important will hybrid co-living/co-working spaces become? How can empty commercial spaces be better utilized? Flexibility and efficiency will be key in how we approach property management on an industry-wide basis.
The importance of exceptional service
Again, something that doesn’t really change for Jackson Sims, because it’s always been inherent in our culture and philosophy. But it’s definitely something the industry is going to need to be far more mindful of in the future. Rent negotiations are only set to become more complex – not only in the face of an uncertain economic footing, but also in the ongoing transition from boomer-driven to millennial-driven renting, and their associated values and economics. In addition, rental properties are likely to become more consolidated under single management portfolios, as single-property landlords struggle under tougher economic conditions.
The net result is that for those who can afford to rent, their bargaining position may become stronger - and property management companies will need to be ready to meet this. Added extras need to become more than mere gimmicks; they need to become meaningful. Improved internet provision, keyless entry and door surveillance services, innovative ways to secure reliable package and grocery delivery, business, health and fitness services – as people rely on their home spaces more, property managers will need to become more innovative if they are to stay competitive.
Our 2021 Strategy
In essence, it seems that at Jackson Sims, our 2021 strategy will be to keep on keeping on. 2020 showed us how important core values are, and core values are something we’ve been instilling in our practice right from the beginning.
We’ll keep positive, and hope that in doing so, we can instill our clients, our recruits and ultimately, the industry as a whole with that same sense of hope. We by no means think it will be easy – this isn’t a baseless, wishy-washy type of hope, its one built on perseverance: gritty, determined, action-based hope that perseveres despite any unknowns. Bring on 2021, we’re ready.
Jackson Sims Recruitment is a property recruitment company operating in the UK and APAC region. Should you be a candidate or client working in property management we have a multitude of recruitment services they can be tailored to you. Please visit www.JacksonSimsRecruitment.com for more information.
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