Sadaqat Hussain is a rating apprentice surveyor and Katie Nelson is a surveyor for tenant representation at Cushman & Wakefield
What tasks do you think are going to be part of your job in the future?
SH: Previously working in the property management team as part of my apprenticeship scheme, I am currently based in the rating team where my role is to provide savings for client through reducing business rates liability. This requires carrying out surveys and inspections as well as negotiate and settle appeals against rating assessments. Our rating team recently launched an app that will help its clients capture rate-saving opportunities quickly and efficiently.
The app is the first of its kind in the rating industry, which will take the user to a list of their properties via a secure log-in before the in-built GPS tracking system locates the property where the rate-saving opportunity exists. The clients can take a photo within the app and then send it to the rating team to pursue a claim on their behalf. Doing this via an app means it can be done instantly and puts us at the forefront of innovation with our clients.
KN: I think it will utilising data and implementing strategies for occupiers. As an agent, technology has been a big concern for those in my role, particularly occupier rep, as we have seen this change in the residential sector with the likes of Purplebricks taking the physical estate agent away from the high street. Will people acquire their own leases via a website? No I don’t believe they will, as I think a lot of large corporates don’t have the time or understanding to rely on a machine to do this.
I think my role will turn to a consultancy role advising occupiers on the liabilities and understanding on the complexities of a lease. I act for a number of large corporates and the reporting and guidance required cannot be fulfilled by a website. The number of agents will certainly reduce, however, landlords and occupiers will lose out on suitable deals as 90% of the options I view with my clients of the available space aren’t always suitable, and the conversation for the creative option begins.
How do you see your role developing?
SH: Technology will undoubtably play a huge part within the industry with the emergence of automation and artificial intelligence replacing the administrative and data building roles currently held by people. I think this will be a positive step forward in areas such as lease management, valuation, and property, asset and facilities management. In addition, I also predict changes will be seen through an increase in the consistency, transparency and timeliness of property transactions with the continuing rise in blockchain.
Automation and artificial intelligence will result in soft skills taking more precedence where surveyors are focussed in nurturing better client relations, providing deeper insight and developing new business opportunities. It will mean traditional skills like teamwork, communication and critical thinking will be much important and valuable to succeed in the profession. A study by Deloitte Access Economics predicts, “Soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030”. The change in the skillset of surveyors will mean roles such as data scientists and client managers are likely to become more prevalent in the future as we look into offering a better client service delivery.
KN: I see my job being aided with some parts taken away. I believe that the role will be streamlined with reporting being automated, and therefore the level of time being dedicated to the level of advice provided will increase. Data will be more freely available, and agents will learn how to leverage this more easily. I will be using building data more frequently from smart spaces, this will enable the transaction process when selecting the appropriate building. I believe smart buildings will also create a better landlord and tenant relationship.
What are your ideas for change?
SH: The traditional working from 9am- 5pm is outdated but is still adopted across all property consultancy firms despite the everyday use of mobile and laptop devices which can allow surveyors to work in a more agile and flexible manner to juggling their studies, work and family life. There is a huge misconception surrounding agile working, it does not revolve around working from home, it can simply mean removing yourself from your desk and working in a different area of the office to increase concentration. Therefore modern new office space needs to be redesigned with a mixture of private, dedicated and collaborative workspaces to break down barriers for teams to work more closely and boost productivity and wellbeing in meeting the needs of a now intergenerational workforce.
The profession is widely viewed as ‘the white man club’ and acknowledges diversity as serious issue, particularly to attracting women as well as the BAME, and an openly LGBT community to the industry. In order to overcome these barriers, it is key for organisations to adopt a flexible and an accepting work environment to enable individuals from these representations to be truly comfortable in expressing themselves and sharing their perspective, knowledge and ideas without suffering from discrimination and prejudice. A workforce that mirrors the rich diversity of the people it serves is much more productive, creative and successful.
KN: I think the general practice surveying role will be multi-disciplinary i.e with valuers and agents doing a merged role, where avoiding conflicts will allow. Access to automated reports and better data will aid peoples jobs, making them more streamlined.