I had thought we would see more companies start to “buy the dip” by now. But even those with the cash to splash must first make difficult decisions, as every business must, about pay cuts, furloughing staff, even making people redundant.

Liz Hamson leader

This was the week businesses began in earnest to make those tough decisions and our grim new reality started to properly bite.

I had to temporarily lay off some of our freelancers. When I chatted to one of them on the phone, he was remarkably sanguine about the whole situation. He said that much as he would rather not lose out financially, he was more worried about not having enough to do and about how his daughter, who had been due to take her GCSEs, would cope.

He then told me what he’d told her: “How you and your friends respond to this crisis will define your generation.”

Normally, you would find me stifling a snigger at this point, but pompous though such a statement would normally sound, these are not normal times. He was right and I could say much the same to you because, make no mistake, how you respond to this crisis will define the property industry.

Over the last year or so, the industry has finally started to wake up to its responsibilities in terms of social impact, the climate crisis and the health and wellbeing of its people. It is vital that it does not now undo all the great work it has been doing or, worse, go backwards by sacrificing these grand new principles at the altar of survival.

It happened last time. Sustainability, as it was then, fell by the wayside in the global financial crisis. This time, the bizarre upside of the coronavirus pandemic is that we can see for the first time the direct correlation between our actions and their impact on the environment – the skies are clearer, rivers cleaner, grass greener. It is incumbent upon us all to ensure history does not repeat itself and that the current crisis underlines rather than undermines the climate crisis agenda.

The industry will also be defined by how companies treat their employees and communicate the tough decisions they make over the coming weeks and months. It will sort the good employers from the bad.

Don’t be one of the latter. You might get away with it in the short term. You won’t in the long term. People will vote with their feet – and their hearts, their minds and their wallets.

Covid-19 Support Hub

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