Working From Home – Hazells Virtual Office

The Coronavirus Pandemic has caused a great change in the way that every aspect of our lives is conducted, and here at Hazells we are certainly not exempt from that. Over the last month we have had to adapt to a new way of working and have set up a virtual office which has seen all of us working from our respective homes.

For example, I would usually be writing this from the office, wearing a suit and tie, however I can currently be found sitting at the kitchen table, in shorts and a t-shirt (I arrived at the kitchen as a destination for my office after some trial and error – the conservatory was too bright, the lounge too comfortable and with the potential for distraction).

The transition to a virtual office for us was a fairly smooth one, we are fortunate that we were already set up with a system whereby we can access our desk PC with all of the systems and applications we use on a daily basis from our home PC or laptop. This means that from an IT perspective, other than some minor tweaks once the lockdown was announced, we were able to carry on in a reasonably normal manner.

A more difficult adjustment has been the lack of face to face contact, with our customers and of course with each other. As a small and close-knit team, we are used to being able to discuss matters or make decisions simply by speaking across the office or wandering over to each other’s desks. This all changed overnight and we have been keeping in contact via video call, using WhatsApp for smaller group conversations and Zoom or Microsoft Teams for larger whole office meetings. After a few teething problems, this has worked well, and has meant that we are able to share ideas and keep everyone up to speed fairly easily.

From the residential point of view, working from home has meant that we have had to become more inventive about how we work, and I am sure that some of the ideas and solutions we have put into place will be used going forward once we return to normality. We have been doing more virtual tours and videos of properties we have on the market, and have started to do virtual inspections, where we will contact tenants on a prearranged video call and ask them to give us a tour of the property. This appears to be working very well so far.

Overall, whilst yes, these are extraordinary and challenging times, at Hazells we are pleased to say that we have managed to continue working under the lockdown guidelines and provide the same level of service as before, by going about things in a slightly different manner. It has been business as usual, but not in the usual way.

Andrew Kettle