The Property Manager Under Pressure: Easing The Strain With PropTech

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Property management has always been a demanding role, but as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, PM positions have become more fraught with increasing complexity and overwork.

Today’s property managers feel under more pressure than ever: they need to drastically adapt their ways of working to keep pace with a rapidly changing industry or sink under the weight of workload and accompanying stress.

A recent research report commissioned by MRI Software, the UK Voice of the Property Manager Report 2022, highlights both the challenges that managers face and their response to them. It also reveals a surprisingly optimistic outlook: the challenges most property managers have met over the last two years is accelerating positive and lasting change within the industry with widespread PropTech adoption at the centre.

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The report, based on a survey of 300 UK property managers, shows that the challenges they face are spilling over from the workplace, with a quarter (25%) admitting to struggling with workload and mental health issues. The upshot has been a severe personal and professional strain on PMs during the pandemic.

The situation isn’t helped by the fact that only 11.5% of property managers have recently received wellness training. This lack of training may, in turn, contribute to the fact that 8% of the managers surveyed cited mental health and an inability to switch off after hours as their biggest challenge.

These stresses can only have been aggravated by conflicts with aggressive and aggravated owners and tenants. The survey showed that more respondents see this as their biggest challenge, with 41% saying that dealing with frustrated owners and tenants is the toughest part of their job.

Stress, conflict and overwork have added to other pressures facing property managers. Not only did COVID add to the complexity and urgency of the tasks they need to handle but building safety issues and the cladding crisis have added to these burdens.

No magic bullet will instantly fix the challenges most are dealing with, but the good news is that technology is already paving the way for greater efficiency and a better work-life balance.

The PM’s Proptech ‘toolset’, encompassing everything from digital leases to tenant portals to automation, is being embraced by the property management teams, with the pandemic accelerating the process. Indeed, the crises proved to be a remarkable catalyst for technological transformation as, on average, respondents to the survey adopted 2.8 new technologies over an 18-month period in 2021-2022.

Efficiency is the order of the day where technology is concerned: 41% of respondents see it as the main reason to adopt new tech. After efficiency, new business growth is seen as the next biggest driver for PropTech solutions. And the cost is not seen as a major barrier to property managers using the technologies, they think work best: only 11% of the managers surveyed would switch from their preferred technology platform to a cheaper alternative.

This accelerated pace of change has been the most pronounced among millennial property managers. As millennials now account for over 70% of all property management roles, it is clear that there is no going back.

With a generation of managers raised on smartphones, tablets and interactive apps replacing one brought up on paper, landlines and spreadsheets, it is natural that new digital technologies are transforming property management.

Other changes in the very fabric of the industry are driving digitalisation and tech adoption. Although women are still underrepresented in the UK property management sector, making up just over a quarter (27%), the good news is that 60% hold senior roles – bringing another range of different views to the decision-making process. And one of the many ripples caused by the pandemic has been the widespread normalisation of remote working, which has required new tools.

The high levels of adoption of remote-enabling tech – 80% of respondents already use cloud technology for this purpose – suggest that flexibility is welcome among property managers.

Moreover, 36% of managers believe that the scope for flexible work will only continue to increase. Embracing hybrid working going forward may be another way in which property managers are able to alleviate stress through a better work-life balance.

The rise of hybrid work may be supported by other projected changes in the PM landscape – 20% of managers surveyed predict that self-managed properties will form the most significant change of the next five years, while 15% expect more tech-enabled properties to be the main shift.

In either case, the outcome would likely complement hybrid work models, as physical geography will become less of a restriction to effective property management.

The changes in property management roles have clearly continued beyond the pandemic, with the drive towards digital transformation showing no signs of slowing. The survey demonstrates that, for many PMs, tech tools will be the new baseline that they work from, with respondents investing in property management and accounting (35%), resident/tenant portals and apps (33%), virtual tours and mobile inspections (33%), online leasing and digital leases (29%), business intelligence (24%), and artificial intelligence or automation (16%).

There are now few aspects of property management that are not heavily impacted by these technologies, and soon most may simply be taken for granted.

The complexity of navigating a post-pandemic property landscape means that, in the long term, old systems are untenable in an industry where 51% of managers feel overburdened by their workload.

But technology adoption appears to be shining a light to the end of the tunnel: 77% of those surveyed reported an overall positive outlook on their work.

Investing in new PropTech presents an opportunity to improve working practices, take admin pressure off employees and, ultimately, do more with less. For many property managers, automating critical processes, eliminating the need for duplicate data entry, and enabling customers to self-serve is critical to relieving the stress around their and their teams’ jobs.

In addition, by continuing to invest in technologies such as digital self-service and real-time communications portals and apps, property managers can keep up to date with modern consumer preferences – maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction whilst achieving efficiency and cost savings compared to pre-pandemic manual processes.

The bottom line is technology adoption may go beyond simply improving work processes. It may be the thing that allows managers to sustain both an optimistic outlook and job satisfaction – and even relieve their personal pressure.

MRI Software is launching the next Voice of the Property Manger Survey for 2023, which will be available for PMs to contribute to soon.


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This article was written by James Lavery. James is Vice President of Marketing (EMEA) at MRI Software, a global leader in real estate solutions.

Working with the PropTech industry for almost 20 years, he has worked at MRI Software for the last four and Qube Global Software for over 14 years prior to its acquisition by MRI in 2018.

Passionate about B2B technology, James employs his in-depth knowledge of several software and technology markets to better meet MRI Software’s customers’ needs.

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Millie is a perfectionist with a passion for property and writing articles. You’ll find her researching the latest housing trends and the newest up and coming areas worth investing in. Read more about Millie here.

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About Millie Archer 142 Articles
Millie is a perfectionist with a passion for property and writing articles. You'll find her researching the latest housing trends and the newest up and coming areas worth investing in. Read more about Millie here.

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