Lessons from starting in real estate in 2020
What is it like to start in real estate in 2020, when, all of a sudden, COVID-19 has completely changed everything? Cora Preining who works as a community manager at Spaceflow for almost a year uncovers her feelings.
What led you to get started in real estate?
I have been living and working in Berlin for 2 years and wanted to go back home. Exactly at that time a friend and current colleague told me about Spaceflow and the idea behind it. I was immediately fascinated by real estate, as the market has evolved massively in recent years. I think this industry has so much more potential in the future, in terms of the technology involved.
The tenant experience and how it helps to make people’s life in buildings easier is one of the most innovative, diverse and exciting fields to work in for me. Since I come from marketing and project management, it was a perfect opportunity to apply my know-how in a different sector than previously.
When did you realize that you'd be having a very different 2020, both at work and in general?
Haha, it was very short notice, to be honest. I just came back from holidays in the Caribbean beginning of February and I started to work at Spaceflow in March. We were still planning my on-site visit to Prague to meet my colleagues, the train and the apartment were already booked! I was supposed to come on Monday and the Friday before the lockdown was declared and the borders were closed. It all happened extremely fast and of course, I found it very sad not to meet my new colleagues in person!
But yes this is how life goes I think, and since we were, or still are, all in the same boat, this was at least a small contribution to accepting the circumstances as they were.
What are your job responsibilities? How did they change after the coronavirus hit?
I work as a Community Manager at Spaceflow. As community managers, we create people-centric spaces, help create a great atmosphere, find out the needs of different clients, places, and communities. Besides being responsible for a great deal of content creation, you can say that we act as links between the community and property manager, as well as being ambassadors of the building they manage. Normally – or let’s say – before the covid hit, we had many face-to-face meetings with clients, on-site visits and generally more travel involved. This obviously changed a lot. Also, it was planned to be in the HQ on a regular basis, which is also not possible anymore at the moment.
What do you think you've missed, career-wise, due to the pandemic? What have you gained that you wouldn't have otherwise?
Puh though question… since all my new colleagues were so nice, friendly and open I felt like part of the team since day one! I had online onboarding with all departments nice „coffee chats“ and immediately felt included. So from this perspective, I would say that I did not miss out on much.
Client-wise it of course would have been helpful being able to get to know them in person and having the chance to introduce myself personally to them.
A positive consequence is that the online calls and weekly meet-ups gave me the opportunity to get to know all my colleagues, also from other departments and countries, and to get to know them better! I also think that the pandemic has brought us almost closer together. We have overcome such a difficult year together and it has shown us even more what a great and strong team we are.
How did you deal with being remote? Was there loneliness, tech issues, challenges learning from and interacting with colleagues?
Since I was initially hired as a remote worker, I think that maybe it was easy for me to cope with these new circumstances. But of course, it was sad to not get the chance to be onboarded on-site and face to face. Furthermore, I think that the first covid-lockdown phase was easier than the ones that followed. Spring was coming, it was a totally new experience for all of us and we thought that maybe everything would return to normal soon. But yes, of course, I was sad that I could not meet the Spaceflow team in person, because it’s a fact that you can bond easier when you are physically with them, not only virtually.
How has this past year changed your impression of the real estate industry, as well as your career path/goals? Will you stay in real estate for the immediate future?
It has been a really different and challenging year that has driven many to new ways of thinking and change. Be it in communication, perspective, or realignment.
COVID-19 has completely changed the awareness and need for technology in every part of our lives, including real estate. Not only people but also buildings have to adapt to this new reality I guess. This digital transformation is for many clients a big change and therefore they need support with this process. I am convinced that as a result of this transformation, tenant experience platforms like Spaceflow will evolve from a "nice-to-have" to a "need-to-have" this year 2021.
It once more showed me that I totally made the right decision with being part of Spaceflow and working in such an evolving and diverse sector. There are so many opportunities and possibilities to make the lives of people better, easier, more connected and more innovative. And that’s one of the greatest things for me - being part of this process! So I am really looking forward to all the things ahead of us.
What was the hardest part of your job working with landlords this year?
I think the hardest part was that the landlords and companies also had to adapt to the new situation and the changes and impacts that came with COVID-19.
It was not possible for us to make as many on-site visits and face-to-face meetings with clients and tenants as we would normally do, which is quite sad because especially in these meetings you really build up a kind of relationship and reference. Right now I am going to finally visit one property, Allianz’s THE ICON VIENNA, I am responsible for again after more than three months, and onboard a few new tenants, meet the property managers, and meet up with some other tenants there.
Questions by Patrick Sisson, quotes from this interview appeared at Bisnow.com.