Agents working from home could ‘become new normal’ under shock plans

Estate agents could be among millions of workers granted the right to work from home forever under shock post-pandemic plans being considered by the government.

Ministers have reportedly proposed legal changes that would prevent employers from forcing staff to come into the office unless they can prove it is essential.

According to the Daily Mail, employers would be required to show it was essential for staff to attend the workplace in order to prevent them from working flexibly.

A Whitehall source told the newspaper: “We are looking at introducing a default right to flexible working. That would cover things like reasonable requests by parents to start late so they can drop their kids at childcare.

“But in the case of office workers in particular it would also cover working from home – that would be the default right unless the employer could show good reason why someone should not.”

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove suggested earlier this week that the UK would not go “back to the status quo”, referring to a hybrid model that included home working.

He told Radio 4: “Now, I suspect – and I’m not advocating this, I’m just thinking of the future – I suspect it may be the case that we may see different workplaces allowing people to work from home at certain points as well as coming into the office. I think there may be changes to the way that we live.”

It could effectively allow agents to work from home for all or part of the week, indefinitely.

But following a backlash from businesses, No10 last night moved to dampen the idea of a post-pandemic “right to work from home”.

Instead, the government said it was proceeding with a less comprehensive shift towards flexible working in the future, pointing out that it had already proposed a pre-pandemic plan first announced in the 2019 Conservative election manifesto to “encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to”.

Business groups have expressed support for flexible working but want the final decisions left to the employee and employer rather than the government.

Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “It is for the individual businesses to decide what is right for their staff.

“We favour a move to flexible working but it would not be right for the government to take the decision out of businesses’ hands.”


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  1. smile please

    Will never happen … But if it does, I would make all my staff redundant and re-employ them on commission only contracts.

    1. MichaelDay

      Agree that a blanket approach would be a nonsense and likely too many loopholes to enforce but your suggested “remedial” action would soon see the unfair dismissal cases mounting up!

    2. Rich@redhomes

      ….you have nothing to worry about, if your staff were good enough they would be working from home for themselves earning a lot more money anyway….keep smiling

      1. A W

        We’ve all got good and no so good staff. Over the last year we also know who would not and would be able to work from home effectively. The Government however does not, and a blanket approach would be utterly ridiculous.

    3. BillyTheFish

      It will happen. If you are aware of the 2050 zero carbon target and the devastation the world faces if we do not keep temp increases below 2 degrees (which is going to be bad enough) then you will also know that there are going to be A LOT of changes in the next decade. It is also going to be expensive and difficult for everyone but the billy bonus is that our children and their children will suffer less from the problems our gen and the one before have created.
      It is easy to set up WFM – all you need is a company laptop, a mouse & a VOIP phone.
      This is about carbon, not enjoyment at the workplace or simplicity as an employer. Less commuting = lower emissions. That is it. As an example if all agents in the UK used virtual tours as the initial viewing rather than the physical it would reduce emissions nationally by the equivalent of 11,200 homes.
      Everyone is walking along in dreamland like there is no problem. I’m fine so it’s alllll fine! Bar up people, deal with it and DO MORE than you are doing, if not for yourself then for your children.

      1. Happy Daze!

        Out of interest how long have you been on a fully plant based diet???

      2. A W

        This is a property news forum and not a climate change one. While we all appreciate that something needs to be done, did you know that 20 companies are responsible for nearly a third of global emissions?:  
        Getting the end consumer to change their habits is a drop in the ocean, properly regulating and enforcing TNC’s (transational corporations) to do so is infinitely more effective.
        Back on track: This is an idiotic proposal by the government that should be left to an employer. Or indeed if they were going to go ahead with such an idea then employers should be afforded the option to make staff redundant with no option for the employee to take further action (which in itself is an idiotic idea).

    4. JELS

      Hi, I have two parents working for me, both work from 9.30am to 2.30pm, no weekends, no half terms, no bank holidays. This has given them flexibility with no worries or additional expense for the children care costs – not one of them have had a day sick. Very happy team and very productive.

      1. A W

        But you know that they are capable of doing so. You have made the determination based upon the indivduals that you know and come to the decision that they would still be able to work effectively.  
        What would happen if they were terrible and unproductive? You would ask them to continue working from the office or look to replace them.
        It is based upon an individual and only the employer knows them, the Government certainly does not.

  2. James Christchurch

    Smile Please – why would working from home mean you would have to change the employment status of your colleagues?

    Are you worried they would not work as hard for you because you were not able to see them?

    1. smile please

      I have many friends who over the last year worked from home and the distractions have made them less productive. They acknowledged that themselves.
      Some people are disciplined and can work from home but most are not. They work better in a focused work environment.
      So, I would put my staff on generous commission packages to weasle out the slackers.
      But as I said above will not happen so nothing to worry about. 

      1. Cheese.

        I personally work from home, and have done for the past 10 months or so. I moved away from meeting clients face to face for more of an admin role after running an office for a number of years.
        I agree its hard to focus completely, and if I was new to the company rather than a 7yr employee, it would be almost impossible. I would argue the quality of my work has increased if the quantity has gone down slightly. The biggest miss I have is the seeing others day to day and the team spirit.

      2. HoratioStJohnBearsted

        Smile please – if your employees won’t work unless you’re watching them, you’re micro-managing them and not giving them effective leadership. They deserve to be released from your employment so that they can work for someone who provides them with leadership that inspires them to work at their potential in an environment that allows them to do more than simply serve your demands. Go and work for yourself or offer jobs at a salary high enough to attract the people who will work because they want to not because you tell them to.

        1. A W

          Bashing someone is not productive. Not everyone has the same drive and worth ethic and unfortunately the disparity between the two become increaingly apparent when working from home. It works for some people and not for others.  
          I would hope that you appreciate that your opinion of “I dont agree with you so your wrong” is somewhat biggoted. I understand it feels like a dirty word, however we expand our own horizions by listening to others and trying to understand where they’re coming from (even if we don’t agree). Much as I appreciate that you disagree with Smile, I disagree with you but thats ok. We all have our own opinions and so long as we dont belittle others and remain civil, we can all get along 🙂

  3. Breaking Dad

    I’m already recruiting from the overseas market.  Labour is cheap and they can do the job just as well as any administrative staff here in the UK.  No tax, no NI, no pension contributions, no holiday pay and if they don’t do what you want them to do, you can just fire them and get someone else and they will work weekends, bank holidays and Christmas day if you like.  So, UK workers had better be careful, the world is a different place now and the talent pool is now global.

    1. MisterP76

      Interesting view point.

      Out of curiosity, how is life in Victorian England?

      1. RealAgent

        Now that made me laugh.

    2. bestandfinal51

      Breaking Dad – 

      Don’t tell me. When you’re not posting under this username, your public persona portrays you as a advocate for good mental health and well being in the work place.

      1. jan - byers

        If the kitchen is too hot ……………..

    3. mark lock

      Oh my days Breaking Dad!!! Glad your’e anonymous hey? lol

  4. JamesH79

    It’s a ludicrous idea for govt to start mandating employers allow staff to work from home. Business cannot and must not work on this basis, especially in an industry like ours where the young learn so much from the office environment and being surrounded by older, more experienced members of staff.

    Having said that a more flexible style of working needs to be embraced as there is so much to be gained from it, in particular in relation to encouraging and enabling women back into the industry after childbirth as just one example.

    However this does seem somewhat pie in the sky stuff.

    1. letstalk

      Wholeheartedly agreed here. Working from home was a means to an end for us, but it isn’t something that works adopted long term.
      The staff need to be together to learn from each other and be aware of what is happening with each other’s portfolios to offer a cohesive service to our clients, nothing is worse than someone ringing up to get someone say ‘I don’t know what’s happening with that, I will have to wait until my colleague is back’ or have a half knowledge because they are trying to work it out from notes/emails on a system that they than have to sift through.
      Equally, the staff were very clear that, but not only did they miss the camaraderie of the office, but, when they experienced more complex issues, they couldn’t bounce them around with one another so easily.
      I mean I would love to save the money and not have an office space, it’s a company win, but, having experienced a year of not all being there it didn’t work and bred a lot of contempt between the team with people not knowing what one another were up to to…. They thought it would be lovely working from home and I think they all got a bit of a shock

    2. bestandfinal51

       I think you could be onto something when you mention “more fleible style of working”.
      It is commonly accepted that the industry is finding it incredibly tough to attract qulity individuals in, or tempt from a competitor. Employers may need to tweek their future job offers in a manner which incorperates a more flexible approach in relation to the base from where the emloyee carries out their duties. After all, if you dont, somebody else will; ultimatly making their job offer more attractive than yours.

  5. iainwhite87

    Surely a business owner should be able to chose how to operate working routines themselves and allow the employee to chose if they like it or not ?

    forcing a business owner to operate in a way they don’t want to , will simply lead to fewer jobs !


  6. Countrybumpkin

    It would be my way or the high way…

  7. htsnom79

    Good teams sell houses, agency is not suited to home working.

    1. Rich@redhomes

      …in your opinion….lol

  8. Northern Lad

    I skimmed over the story after I saw the words “According to the Daily Mail”……

    1. jan - byers

      Why they do some excellent investigative stuff

      Personally I find the Guardian far less sensible


  9. 456Lets

    Whilst some people here are commenting that government cannot dictate how people run their businesses – the government already does with the many laws in place governing employment, and these laws have changed over time as the world has evolved.  Such as the working time directive or the minimum wage.  Not all legislation is bad.  However, I think this needs to be very careful re the work from home.  Whilst lots of people are loving it right now, it doesn’t make a cohesive team in the same way as working together in an office environment.  Its not so easy to just pop your head round to see someone to discuss something.

    I think especially for the younger generation who are just starting off in their careers and can learn so much from listening, seeing and watching what other people do, they will loose out on so much.  I also think there are massive impacts on mental health.  Don’t get me wrong, I think people can effectively work from home and I can see the benefits of allowing flexibility to do this, and what Covid has done is shown that people should be trusted to be allowed to work from home on occasion.  However, I also know plenty of people that can’t be trusted to work from home effectively, who openly admit to me about taking naps, watching TV, doing the housework for 3 hours, whilst they are supposed to be working, so employers who think perhaps some poeple aren’t working as much as they should be, are right to be worried in certain cases.

  10. ARC

    I read as far as “according to The Daily Mail” and stopped.

    1. AcornsRNuts

      Did the big words confuse you?

      1. jan - byers

        LOL he only understands 4 letter words like “woke” 


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