Working from home as a commercial office agent

John Jarman

Usually Knight Frank’s John Jarman is travelling up and down South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire showing developers, investors and potential tenants numerous industrial and development opportunities offices as part of his job.

But the coronavirus outbreak has seen a change for many employees who are now confined to their own homes for social distancing or to self isolate, but need to carry on their day job.

John said: “Usually I spend about 60 per cent of my time out of the office either meeting clients, visiting sites and in meetings. The rest is spent going through the paperwork and emails associated with this back at the office. I usually do two days a week of back to back visits.

“Obviously my usual place of work has changed but I’ve tried not to change my daily routine. I have been starting at a usual time, adopting a more casual dress than normal, but sitting with my laptop and phone and getting on with work.

“We have an office update call every day at 10am, so we can get a steer on what is happening from colleagues. There’s an element of cross selling which you can’t pick up on when you are working remotely. You don’t hear it across the office or if you’ve not got a colleague sitting next to you. These updates have been very useful. They stop us losing touch with colleagues and missing out on information. I think I currently know more than usual about what’s going on which is really good.

“We have also begun to rely heavily on flythroughs and virtual tours. Before we started home working, I went round some of the larger instructions to record virtual viewings and videos tours of them. The feedback we have got from these has been brilliant, and, going forward, we’ll incorporate these in our marketing.  I don’t think an interested party would commit to a building from only seeing a video, but it helps to retain interest in a site, on top of the standard brochure, email and mailing.

“I’ve always struggled with sitting down for long periods of time at work, that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy industrial agency, as I’m out and about for much of the week. I’ve actually found home working OK so far although it’s key to keep to a regime. Regular breaks and a bit of fresh air always helps me to remain productive. We’ve all said that the weeks have gone very quickly.”

“Though we are working from home, we have been very conscious to reassure clients that the office is still functioning as normal and albeit working remotely our day to day business is relatively unaffected. We are all still here working for them, and their needs, and we are still getting deals across the line.

“Client meetings are still happening via video conferencing and we have been regularly using Microsoft Teams meetings and conference calls and we are constantly in touch with enquirers, clients and colleagues.

“There are less distractions at home so I am able to focus more, but it is harder to put my machine down at the end of the day as there is no clearly defined finish line. I like to end each working day knowing I’ve completed all my tasks needed for that day.

“I do think this period will change how we work as an office in the long run. This isn’t the end of the office as a base for work at all. There will be a need and desire to go back to traditional office life after all this finishes.

“I think this period will make us more efficient, better at time management and encourage our use of technology to aid our processes and procedures, but you can’t beat face to face when it comes to building proper client relationships in this sector.

“Once the measures have relaxed I am looking forward to a return to our offices in Sheffield City centre. Whilst having adapted, I do miss the buzz and collaborative environment which comes with traditional office life, and not forgetting the ability to have meetings over a latte in the City I love.”

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