Oh to be a kid again. As I fired up the laptop and my two mobiles on Tuesday, I cast a look ruefully at the children outside throwing snowballs at each other and revelling in a day off school.
Gone are the days when for most adults a ‘snow day’ was basically a holiday. Now, even if you work for a company that discourages remote working, you are probably kitted out to cope with the ‘Beast from the East’ and whatever other once nationally debilitating weather is thrown at you. In fact, I inevitably get more work done from home than I do in the office. Thanks to advances in technology, I can connect to colleagues and contacts so seamlessly that I barely notice I’m not in the office (although they do, bombarded as they are by my relentless phonecalls and emails).
I have yet to embrace Skype, but when you’ve got a Luddite – sorry, digital learner – like me hooked up to multiple devices you know the world has changed. So where is tech going to take us next?
That is one of the questions I posed during a panel debate I chaired this week to mark the launch of Osborne Clarke’s report: ‘Future Proof Real Estate – is the property sector ready for the 2020s?’. The answer to the first question is apparently: big data, 3D printing and wearable tech. The answer to the second is: more ready than you might think, but there is still a long way to go – and flexibility is key, whether you’re talking businesses or buildings, tech or people.
Thanks to @OC_RE for inviting me to chair a debate on how future proof real estate is @RIBA, thanks to @CoyoteOli, @THRealEstate14, @jamesdearsley and @Palmer_Capital for being such lively, thought-provoking panellists and thanks to all the guests who braved the snow to join us!— Liz Hamson (@lizhamson) February 28, 2018
Anyone who worked from home as I did this week will appreciate the extent to which tech now enables flexible working, but our companies have nothing on some of the newer employers out there. Take Hubble. At our Best Places to Work in Property event last Friday, chief executive Tushar Agarwal casually mentioned during a panel debate that members of his team live in Sweden, Chicago and Malaysia – and that when someone applied to join from Argentina, they had to turn them down on the basis that too many of the team would have been working remotely.
Hubble is extremely proud to have won 4 awards presented at @PropertyWeek's Best Places to Work in Property 2018. Our mission is to create a world where everyone loves where they work - and we're honoured to be recognised for our efforts starting right at home! pic.twitter.com/BJBgkKyMdx— Hubble (@Hubble) February 26, 2018
Like others on the panel, Agarwal doesn’t just talk the talk about flexibility and diversity; he walks the walk, something many others in the room also clearly do. Indeed, the diversity of the audience was one of the best things about the event. If only the same could be said of Knight Frank, which unveiled a new board that is the very opposite of diverse, unless you count the two guys not wearing their suit jackets. Oh well…
All good things
As we reveal today, one of the UK’s most powerful pairings is set to come to an end. Let’s be honest, the break-up of GM Real Estate’s Tony Gibbon and Tony McCurley was inevitable after the collapse of takeover talks with Colliers International back in 2015.
So where will they end up? Both in their 50s, it is unlikely their careers are over and both still have a great deal to offer. But while at least one leading agency has already tapped up Gibbon, my hunch is he would struggle to leave the team he has taken almost 25 years to build. As for McCurley, there are rumours he is going to Colliers, but both sides have said that’s not the case. Maybe he’ll retire. It’s not as though he needs to work again. Watch this space…