Our Building Surveying Recruitment Specialist Alex realises the importance of work-life balance; a subject that many of those he speaks with daily address as being an important aspect to consider when accepting a new role.
Alex discusses the topic with Rights of Light Senior Surveyor Jessica Rhodes; of whom he placed at Delva Patman Redler where she currently works. Below she explains about her career-to-date and how she now feels she has found the perfect harmony.
1. Why has work-life balance become such an important topic and concept for the property/construction industry?
During my first few years in London, and in this industry, I had no personal life (moving from the other side of the world does that!) and so I worked and worked. There were times where I would be in the office for more than 12 hours a day during the week, and turn up at the weekends. Although I excelled in my position within the company, my personal life was considerably lacking.
After a few years, a lot of the friends I had made moved from London, back to Australia, Canada or New Zealand, and I hadn’t built up hobbies, or a circle of friends to replace their company. I was also not taking care of my health. Once I moved on to a company that allowed people to have a more flexible working arrangement, I found the time to invest in my life outside the office. I remembered what it felt like to socialise with different people, visit different places and enjoy new things. What I realised is, a person cannot be happy unless there is a balance, so I made the goal to continue my career and life on this basis. It was a contributing factor in moving to Delva Patman Redler, which understands the importance of work-life balance.
2. What have you noticed that Delva Patman Redler do to ensure that work-life balance exists for employees?
While we don’t hot desk, there is also no strict clock watching. If our train is late, then our train is late and we don’t feel bad about it. If we need to be on site for two hours instead of the scheduled one, then that’s fine. We are not chastised for matters that are outside of our control, which has (in my opinion) translated into a work environment where none of the employees take advantage of that trust. We are able to have an open discussion with our line managers when flexibility is needed in our lives and they are always accommodating when they can be.
3. How do you personally manage the balance of the two now?
In my first company I worked a lot, with very long hours and in the second company, I fully embraced working from home (and yes, sometimes in my pyjamas!) I went from one extreme to the other. I’m lucky to have experienced both though because I know roughly how I want to move forward. At the moment I have personal strategies that are only deviated from when I choose to. Rules such as not answering my phone/emails outside of work hours or staying at work until 11pm when there is no pending deadline. Although I may do both of these things, when I do, it is my choice and I am fine with that.
We should all remember it is our own responsibility to take care of ourselves, and this is just one way I have chosen to do it.
4. What has changed working within the property sector since your first role?
To be honest there have been incredible changes (both ups and downs) in the industry, but one thing I am extremely excited about are the women working within property! Yes, men, I am sure you’re great too, but things are changing. The Property/Construction industry could be classed as predominantly male and therefore not as quick to adapt to the woman’s equality movement as other industries. However, it does not mean that it is not happening now, I am noticing that increasingly there have been women within my network and past companies that have been championed over their male counterparts because they were the better PERSON for the job.
There is still a long way to go, but I do honestly believe this is a glimpse of exciting things to come!
5. What do you hope to see in 2019 to make an even better working environment for all?
Life goes in cycles, in every form. The working environment of the property industry is no different. I may be putting on my rose tinted glasses by saying this, but I believe there is a culture shift moving away from the impersonal process of business and more towards people as individuals. For example, clients respond well and appreciate a personal relationship, employees are losing faith in performance management systems that don’t take their own circumstances into account and more innovative business practices are developing because people are applying their own experience and ideas.
6. What are the essentials for a successful property business to retain their employees?
There are so many elements that go into retaining staff, simply because everyone is different. However, I always consider the actual working environment very important. A company can throw glamorous work parties once or twice a year but does that really outweigh an underlying culture of micromanagement? Personally, I say the answer is no. Those types of events should be icing on the cake, not the eggs that hold it all together. Focus on the small day-to- day things and be willing to adapt as your workforce changes. If you have no idea where to start… simply, ask your staff as they are your best assets!
Thanks Jess for participating in this article!
Looking for a new role in building surveying? Where work-life balance is deemed important and you can be your best working in a progressive environment? Contact Alex today for a confidential chat on 020 7766 9000.