This morning we tuned into the UKAA’s webinar ‘Tech, Tools & Talent’. Presented by Forsite’s Guy Adderley and featuring our own Louisa Dickins (Co-Founder, LMRE) on the panel alongside Brent Stojanovic (Director, Navana Property Group), Nicky Wightman (Director Global Occupier Trends, Savills) and Michael Crawford (Head of Technology, Colliers).
Guy kicked off discussing the big focus right now - the return to work - asking how we get back into the office? Michael noted that we have more tech in our home than in our office. Tech is becoming more relevant but there are quick wins that employers can utilise whilst we are working partly in the office and partly from home, such as sensors beneath peoples’ desks, using zoom etc. He said we need to give top talent choice when it comes to tech and working from home.
Nicky discussed how we should focus on individual need when it comes to tech, which will vary for different organisations and teams. It is interesting to look to retail to see how consumers are engaging with technology in the first instance.
From a BTR perspective, Louisa pointed out that there will always need to be an on site team in order to provide that high level of customer service to tenants, whereas for PropTech, there can be much more remote working.
Guy went on to discuss bringing talent into BTR & Tech. Louisa explained that as PropTech is still relatively new, it is not necessarily key for candidates to have PropTech or real estate experience. She often looks to other tech industries when headhunting for PropTech to attract candidates from all areas. Additionally, Build to Rent companies employ candidates from plenty of non-traditional sectors – hospitality, retail etc. Nicky agreed that the industry would benefit immensely from other backgrounds. They have an enormous around of skillsets within Savills Property Management team.
Brent noted it is key to put together the right team to manage residents. As a managing agent, funnily they don’t actually employ anyone with the title ‘Property Manager’ as the role is not fit for purpose for their on site roles. He says the term Property Manager is too generalist.
Michael said tech is an enabler so we don’t have to give unnecessary work to those on the front line. The on site staff can then put all their focus into being customer facing, as when it comes to BTR “customer experience should not be a USP but a given”.
To conclude, Michael would like to see a hybrid of people working from home and in the office. “Tech can enable collaboration.”
By Martha Kiernan