“We are going to be positive. We're all going to survive this and come out the other end,” says Tony Ourris of Anthony Webb in London on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The sales and lettings agency has been adapting its processes, day by day, to ensure it keeps running.
The entire team is equipped to work from home, with access to the agency’s cloud-based systems and calls being diverted to their mobiles through a newly-installed app. “It’s all set up, we’ve tested it, and it works,” says Ourris. The agency’s daily morning meeting will turn virtual, he says, with the team using Microsoft Teams and a WhatsApp group to stay in touch. “The important thing is to keep up the group conversation and morale.”
Meanwhile, property inspections have been postponed until further notice as a precautionary measure. “We're only going into people's properties when there's urgent repairs that need to be done, rather than just going around to see if everything's okay,” says Ourris.
Gas safety inspections were conducted early. “We didn’t want to get to a situation where a gas safety inspection is due and the tenants were self isolating - we didn’t want to put the tenants at risk because they haven't had their gas checked for safety or put the contractor at risk because the tenants in the property were self-isolating.”
All of these changes have been communicated with 'every single one' of the agency's tenants and landlords, by both email and post, to make sure they are aware of the new procedures and who they should contact in case of emergency. “We want to minimise the risk of spreading the virus as much as we possibly can. We're looking at every angle and we're learning a lot of it on the job, because none of us has been in this situation before," says Ourris.
“It is reassuring that the government have put in measures to protect businesses, tenants, and landlords alike. The next few months will be tough and we feel ready for the challenge. Keeping everyone safe is our top priority.”