Recent research by the Government suggests that 1.5 million jobs in England are at risk of becoming automated. PayProp, the lettings payment platform, has responded to this data.
It believes that, rather than cutting jobs, automated processes should be the focus. Employees should have the opportunity to get away from the repetitive admin tasks, and balance their work lifestyle with those that involve interacting with people.
Research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
The ONS has analysed the jobs of 20 million people. It has estimated that 7.4% of these are at high risk of becoming automated. However, it has been highlighted that there are no estimates for the property industry. It may well be that the sector is less susceptible to job losses than other sectors such as manufacturing.
What is automation?
Automation has been defined by the ONS as the replacement of tasks done by workers through the use of technology, including computer programs, algorithms or robots.
The ONS study has revealed that the proportion of jobs at high risk of automation has actually dropped since 2011. However, the proportion of those at low and medium risk has increased.
How can automation help letting agencies?
Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Office at PayProp, explains: “Effective automation for agents is all about putting processes in place to free up staff to do more front-end functions.
“For example, automating accountancy and payment tasks can increase accuracy and efficiency, while at the same time allowing staff to provide a more valuable output than just administration and data processing.”
Cobbold also says that by looking at information gathered from automated processes, agents can obtain a higher level of control over back-end functions and visibility of their business flows. This could lead to the production of better insights for the clients.
Cobbold said: “Implemented effectively, automating certain processes can close transparency gaps, open new doors and help agencies find new ways of doing things.”
Automating jobs is not the answer
Despite the bleak future predicted by the ONS, Cobbold has taken a more positive view on the situation
He said: “Automating certain processes should complement strategic interventions like prioritised staff development and providing the best possible customer service.
“Letting property is a people-centric business, so it remains vital that agencies have the staff in place to build long-term relationships with landlords and tenants.
“When you develop a team of dedicated property experts, PropTech can support this by freeing up capacity and allowing agents to focus on the more personal aspects of the rental process.
“Many industries will feel under threat from the prospect of automation, but if agencies find the right balance between automating key processes and continuing to provide an outstanding personal service, the lettings industry needn’t be one of them.”