As I think back to this time last year when I was full of big plans and New Year’s resolutions to get fit, eat healthier, alter my priorities and basically make 2020 ‘My Year’ I still find it hard to believe what the universe actually threw at us all!
It’s been a strange year that has tested each one of us and forced us to learn more about ourselves and what’s truly important in life than we ever wanted to. Sadly, many have suffered loss and extreme illness and others have faced redundancies, business closures and true financial hardship. Some people, some businesses and some industries have inevitably thrived whilst others have been unable to weather the Covid storm. It has undoubtedly been a year of change, that’s for sure.
There is no denying that the relocation industry is one to have suffered greatly with even domestic as well as international relocation tremendously impacted. Managing Director for The Relocation Consultancy, Jenny Hogan, explains “The initial lockdown in March 2020 came as quite a shock, not only in its timing but in its severity. One minute we are watching the news about this awful virus affecting China and then Italy, and the next we were in full lockdown unable to leave our homes. From having clients arriving, and planning a pipeline of work everything stopped, literally overnight. In the first lockdown the property industry closed, and all work was suspended. It turned out that we had almost 3 months with no active work, liaising with clients by phone and video but not being able to move any relocations forward in any practical way. Initially the sudden availability of time was well used enabling us to complete internal housekeeping and “to do lists” that somehow always got put to the bottom of the pile, and prepare a COVID safe way of working once the industry opened again. Soon, we and our clients were frustrated by the lack of movement and information. Visa centres were closed worldwide meaning clients visa applications were delayed for months and client companies put many relocations on hold. Our clients and relocation partners had to furlough staff meaning our usual relationships were disrupted and it felt like we lost some of the intimacy we had spent years building up.”
We had to scale back, focus on areas we could change and look to re-strategise. In some ways we are fortunate that the nature of our work means many aspects of it is carried out remotely under normal circumstances anyway and we then adapted other areas to ensure we were delivering the highest level of service in the most Covid secure way e.g., offering clients virtual tours and/or video calls to view properties in order to minimise each parties’ exposure.
Using our expertise as well as learning new processes as a result of the pandemic, we were able to relocate a good number of clients from around the globe during 2020, once the dust had settled. We faced many challenges but overcame each one triumphantly. The Relocation Consultancy’s Senior Relocation Consultant, Sharon Gill, explains “We are now doing far more remote viewings to view properties on behalf of the client whilst they are stuck in quarantine. Having this reduced to ten days has helped hugely, but clients are still desperate to speed up their home finding, especially if they have a family and are due to start work ASAP. I find this a privilege, (as well as a huge responsibility!) that I’m trusted enough to make this choice on their behalf. But having built a close relationship with them, starting before they arrive in the U.K. makes this much easier - and so rewarding. I feel much closer to clients as we are all going through this together.”
The one thing 2020 has given to most of us is time. Time to reflect, to re-evaluate and to forward plan. It is likely that many businesses that have survived 2020 will embrace some of the changes it brought about. Several large businesses announced they will move to a permanent work-from-home arrangement whilst others will certainly be more flexible in this area moving forward. Many individuals will benefit in terms of time, by no longer having a long commute each day. There may be extra hours in the day now to exercise or learn a new skill or maybe take up a new hobby. Perhaps last year’s new year’s resolutions will actually come to fruition in 2021!
Another positive to working from home is that employees may not be tied to a particular location and will be able to earn a city salary but live in the countryside if they choose to. Perhaps they work in the South of the UK but wish to relocate to the North, or maybe even overseas. The opportunities working from home can present stretch far and wide.
As we look ahead to 2021, despite being in another lockdown at present, we are feeling optimistic. There is much to look forward to and feel encouraged by. We are hoping the rules around international travel will relax in the near future, as soon as it is safe to do so. We hope to continue to use our expert knowledge to guide clients through the relocation process from end to end and provide bespoke support to ensure the experience is as smooth and stress free as possible.
The Relocation Consultancy’s MD, Jenny Hogan concludes “Without doubt 2020 was an extremely difficult year, with the inability of people to be able to travel freely (let alone the implications of Brexit) having a huge impact on the relocation industry. There is light at the end of the tunnel though with vaccines on the way and the promise of life returning to normal over the coming months. We will learn from this past year, adapt some of our working practices and take the positives from the experience. There is a huge pipeline of work out there, companies are already planning ahead and people still want to relocate to the UK and internationally.
“Unsurprisingly the relocation industry has been adversely affected in the last year and this in turn has put a great deal of pressure on the survival of many companies. However, we are a resilient industry, well used to being flexible and solving problems, and I am very optimistic for the year ahead!”
If you are thinking of relocating to, or within, the UK, please contact us to see how we can help.
0118 947 0029
Kalewa, The Warren, Caversham,
1 The Mews,
Gilston Park, Hertfordshire