According to an ANAROCK Consumer Sentiment Survey, 'home ownership' carries significant preference among the new-age millennials, and it has also not been dented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Does this imply that the real estate sector will not see job losses unlike the other sectors?
The Real estate sector is witnessing a unique situation, where, despite the general slowdown in the economy, a certain segment of homebuyers who are still looking out to buy their first home, and multinational companies are still looking to bring business back to normal as they wait to restart their office. All of these clients need to be serviced. This means upskilling by our employees. We have intensified our learning and development during this time to help our employees strengthen skills. I cannot speak for the sector as a whole, because there will surely be consolidation, but at K Raheja Corp, we are encouraging our people and honing skills during this time.
It has been claimed that online home sales will witness a significant spurt owing to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Does this mean that the real estate sector will be hiring people with updated skillsets such as digital sales in the days to come?
The online medium makes the cut when drawing a customer to a project. Beyond that, the millennial audience would definitely be putting in a large part of their savings and will want to touch, feel, and physically see their home and the amenities before they decide to buy. That said, we routinely introduce advanced programmes for our employees so that they are able to get a hands-on training on enhanced tools, understand demand trends, and study consumer data analytics to leverage them in their area of work. While technology will never be able to fully replace people, it has become imperative to build a workforce of the future which is digitally skilled and is transforming the very way we operate.
Migrant workforce has been a vestigial part of the real estate sector. With the large-scale reverse migration of this ever-important workforce, are we going to witness a change in strategy when it comes to employing frontline workers in your sector?
Front line workers are not on the payroll, and are hired by the contractor. Having said that, we have implemented measures in the interests of the labourers right from the early stages of the government-imposed lockdown. Our foremost priority was to ensure safety and security during these testing times - providing them food, healthcare and extensive sanitization.
Through this pandemic, we have kept the supply chain in place, by paying contractors who have further paid the wages to their workers. In fact, the workers on site recently collaborated to come up with innovative solutions for our ongoing project sites where they built and installed no-touch wash basins in the premises to maintain hygiene and follow the safety protocols instituted by WHO. We do see increased use of technology and AI coming into construction, along with health security as an emerging trend for frontline workers.
When it comes to addressing key concerns such as boosting employee morale, what are the vital points that function as an imperative for an organization in your sector?
Employee morale boosting is critical and is sector agnostic. For the real estate sector, Work From Home (WFH) is a new experience and is not a normal given. Keeping employee morale high through town halls, informal quarantine chats, yoga and cooking lessons online, to even guitar lessons, we have innovated in the ways in which we engage with our people ensuring they stay mentally fit and active.
What according to you are the biggest opportunities that the COVID-19 has brought forth for the real estate sector?
There are couple of key outcomes for the sector:
1) Covid 19 has led to an increase in home demand: Millennials seek a home as a sense of security that physical assets provide during such exigencies. Also, lower home loan interest rates, which are currently at an all-time low are encouraging them to consider buying their home now.
2) Consolidation: The smaller fly-by-night players will perish, and the ones with reputation and financial standing will withstand this.
3) Design and other innovation: The times have opened an opportunity to create new designs and layouts for office space, which can be refreshingly different. c has made all of us to think out of the box, and we are doing our Q best to create value.
Is your organisation post-COVID-ready?
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