WFH – here to stay?
Residential property – will the boom continue?

No one can predict the future, and it is foolhardy to try, but after nearly two years of the strangest of times in recent memory, conversations are taking place among those in the Guernsey construction and property sectors. This article discusses whether things are going to be different and, if so, for better or worse.

WFH – here to stay?

For some businesses the shift to the whole office working from home (WFH) was almost seamless, with high-end information technology (IT) and an ability to pick up a telephone call wherever there was an internet connection. For others, however, the change to WFH was not so easy. Staff working in cramped conditions, with unreliable IT and interruptions by others around the home may have been glad to return to the office.

The willingness, or desire, to work remotely will ultimately affect the demand for office space, and therefore affect the value of those investments.

Immediately after lockdown, some office-based businesses, having seen that productivity and efficiency were not adversely affected by homeworking (or may have actually improved), told staff they could continue to work from home if they wanted. As the lockdowns get further away, and there are fewer restrictions on day-to-day life, some of these businesses may give this further thought – perhaps moving towards a hybrid model of home and office working to enable employees to combine the flexibility of WFH with the advantages of office working, such as closer contact with colleagues and the training and mental health benefits this brings. Other employers have faced even more significant challenges with long-term WFH, both bigger picture and practical, such as data protection, ensuring the health and safety of their employees and setting up workstations, which are more easily managed in an office-based environment.

Another important factor for Guernsey businesses is that the commute to the office is not that bad. For most, it will be less than a 20-minute walk, ride or drive to enjoy the company of their fellow workers. This alone may mean that there will be a big difference in the take-up of WFH in Guernsey compared with the United Kingdom.

Unlike some places, it may be expected that in Guernsey, there will continue to be good demand for office space and working from the office will be the norm, but with the experience gained during two lockdowns staff may spend a bit more time WFH.

Residential property – will the boom continue?

Without a doubt the residential property sector (both local and open markets) has been busy – so busy that there is a lack of property on the market. The lack of choice is making sellers cautious about advertising their own properties. Somewhat perversely perhaps, those looking to sell are worried that their property will sell too quickly. That will leave them needing to buy something and, with prices high and a lack of properties listed for sale, they are opting to stay put for the time being.

It also seems that the rental sector is having its own problems, with reports of a lack of rental property and high prices. There was a belief that investors from outside the island were buying up properties to rent out. However, if that was happening in numbers sufficient to reduce the stock of properties for sale, then the lack of rental properties is a puzzle.

The reasons for the spike in property sales – a desire for a separate space to WFH, space to live with family for long periods and more outdoor space – will drop away as staff return to offices and get further away from the risk of another lockdown. As the world opens up, people may start to use more of their income on holidays and for other reasons, and less on property. There will be a return to a more normal, steadier residential property market, but with the banks happy to lend and offering some attractive deals, and with high employment, the market should remain active for a while.

For further information on this topic please contact Martyn Baudains at Ogier by telephone (+44 1481 721 672) or email ([email protected]). The Ogier website can be accessed at