Victoria Hill is Founder and Director at PROMIND Capital and Venture Partner at Pi Labs. She has over 20 years of experience in real estate, having collaborated with Savills, RBS and CBRE. She is also the author of independent psychological research, Employee Engagement in the Real Estate Sector and a PhD student in cognitive resilience with MMU.  

The PROMIND Group is a people development specialist supporting organisations, businesses and individuals to deliver their full potential and achieve their aims through coaching. Their mission is to make coaching available, accessible and affordable for everyone through their R.E.A.L. Coaching Programmes.

Main takeaways:

  • Trust from team leaders and managers has to increase to accommodate the remote part of hybrid work
  • You can use tech to improve efficiency and use human interactions wisely to add to relationships in a focused and effective way, optimising human time
  • Human capital will always be the best asset you will ever have and it needs investment just like any other asset
  • Start investing in coaching at team and individual level to act as a catalyst for performance

Collaboration in the era of hybrid work

Things are changing fast – we worked from home in 2020, are slowly returning to office in 2021 and predictions are that the office of the future will be hybrid. We wanted to know how these changes are affecting the way teams collaborate:

Involvement of tech will be more prominent”, Victoria Hill says, as it fosters inclusion and helps getting the teams together. “We need new communication mediums in order to encourage connection, which is critical for engagement.

There is also an increased need for trust and feedback – “Trust from team leaders and managers has to increase to accommodate the remote part of hybrid, therefore people need to be better at giving and receiving honest feedback”, as well as the increased need for networking and “informal chat” as they are also vital for morale and enjoyment, she adds.

What’s extremely important to remember is that there is no one size fits all, and with “creative, celebratory and collaborative time being hardest to replicate remotely, each team will need to address this uniquely”.

Finding the balance between personal and professional lives

Working remotely or adopting a hybrid style of work can make it difficult to separate professional and personal schedules. Victoria says that both work culture and our own time management dictate this balance:

Everyone is different. Those who commuted far, are now obviously gaining more time, which can be used for personal use, but for many this isn’t happening even with the added time. This is a function of corporate culture but also how aware an individual is of how they work best and what work/life balance they want – and also whether they are prepared to actively address it”.

Are people more stressed now? She answers:

”From my coaching experience, I observed that lockdown disproportionately affected those with children,  those living alone and those with extrovert personalities, but in addition there are also sustained non-lockdown influences such as culture, the team leader and the individual’s self-management.

There are undoubted stresses and anxieties for people who feel they don’t have that escape from work now, and actually feel a blur between personal and professional time – but for some that works!

Impact of technology on human interactions

Many people are afraid that technology will replace human interactions (here’s a poll created by Bright Spaces’ CEO, that shows this to be one of the most important fears related to technology).

But on the other hand, PropTech companies can optimise these interactions through their solutions, actually increasing the quality of communication and collaboration.

It is about moving with the times, as with every new era and breakthrough of tech there has been the worry of technology replacing a human touch. My take is that these are not mutually exclusive – you can use tech to improve efficiency and use human interactions wisely to add to relationships in a focused and effective way, optimising human time”.

On PropTech

PropTech sees accelerated growth, with more startups emerging, more opportunities, investments and collaborations with real estate players across all sectors.

We are in this flow of proptech being proven and seen, and people are more open to it. In a time where processes need to be automated, the industry has gaps that technology can fill (including making sure working environments are covid-secure).

Even though the adoption of technology might happen slower, it is definitely more than just a trend:

“Real estate has generally been antiquated and a slow mover when it comes to tech, it seems a shift is starting to gain more traction, particularly over the last few years. Undoubtedly this will again be accelerated in the wake of Covid-19”

When it comes to entrepreneurs building a company in this industry, Victoria thinks that they should pay close attention to human capital and values:

Human capital will always be the best asset you will ever have and it needs investment, just like any other asset. Start with your people, at the end of the day, particularly in an early stage business, your people are key. They are what make your company unique and set you up for success.

Cultivate the right culture, and hire those that align with the company’s values. Values should never be underestimated, all roads lead back to values when dealing with disagreements!

But PropTech sees resistance as well, especially from a sector more “traditional” than others. There are several obstacles that companies in PropTech meet on their way to transforming real estate and, according to Victoria, these are:

  • Access to capital
  • Creating a picture not of why their product will help, but why soon it will be a ‘cannot live without’ way of being in RE practices.
  • The perception they could replace human interactions – proptech startups need to enhance them, and not replace them (as above, this could be VERY effective and efficient when done well)

Boosting productivity

How can real estate or proptech companies increase their productivity in these times? What tools or solutions are there that work?

I’m biased because I’ve seen the results first-hand, but one piece of advice is to start investing in coaching at team and individual level to act as a catalyst for performance.

Use coaching to tune into what makes the individual productive, not a general understanding of what can improve productivity, as it is very specific to the individual and the way they naturally operate. Get to know your staff on that deeper level and what they need to be at their best.

Our R.E.A.L. Coaching Programme is a good example of a tech-enabled people development tool that supports people to learn how to fulfil their own unique potential for themselves, so it makes for very accountable professionals.

Victoria Hill’s future plans

To conclude, we asked Victoria to share some of her future plans with our readers:

“We continue with our mission to make coaching available, accessible and affordable through tech-enabled coaching programmes for emerging leaders in real estate, so that they can innovate in the sector rapidly, and procure modern real estate fit for needs.

We focus on research to bring the most relevant and applicable evidence-based people development content to our clients, and we continue to working alongside edutech professionals to deliver this in the most impactful but cost effective way.

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