NEXTGEN DIARIES: TOM FAYERS

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I am in my flat in Camberwell and have been isolating since 9th March which was initially supposed to be a precautionary two-week period following a skiing trip to Northern Italy at the end of February. However, things changed quickly and I have been here ever since… I live with one flat mate, we have plenty of space including a roof terrace so it hasn’t been too difficult to enjoy ourselves while the sun is out. The last few weeks have been fairly up and down but I am now in a good routine although there is probably some further work to do on the eating/drinking and exercise balance.

My company has responded well in most areas. IT issues have so far been minimal, and I have been particularly impressed with some of the older generations ability to learn new computer skills they never knew they had. Being a large company with over 50,000 employees around the world affected, there are many experiences from different offices around the world to draw upon. What is particularly interesting is lessons learnt from our offices in the far east, where they are over the worst of the pandemic and have begun returning to work. In addition, our Dutch office is piloting the “6 feet office” a new concept designed at helping clients and tenants prepare for a return to the office.

I work in the Central London Office leasing team at Cushman & Wakefield and as leasing agents, our day to day role has changed significantly. There are no longer property viewings or inspections (although virtual viewings are beginning within a few cases), and client meetings are now all carried out over Skype/Teams/Zoom. My main focus is predominantly ensuring clients are up to speed on events happening within the market. While there is no crystal ball, there have been several interesting debates over what the future of the office is, and how property values etc will respond to this. Another main role is taking the opportunity of lower market activity levels to ensure systems are in order to make work as efficient as possible when an element of normality occurs.

It is very difficult to say and there are strong arguments either way on a number of issues. Firstly, and one I consider to be a great accidental achievement of this pandemic is the positive effect had on air pollution levels and the environment. To see such a sharp improvement in results after such a short time frame is encouraging. Secondly, and of the highest importance to my sector of work, is how will occupiers utilise their office space going forwards? Is working from home more or less productive than the office? Do occupiers need as much space if they can effectively work from home? Alternatively, if social distancing is to become the norm over the short-medium term, do occupiers actually require more space for the same amount of people in order to abide by health and safety regulations with social distancing.

Tom Fayers

Senior Surveyor at Cushman & Wakefield