Moving Targets: Rather Than Predict And Bet, Listen And Learn

Winners and losers in the land game are placing big money on work-from-anywhere trends that may or may not hold in a mid-term future business scenario.

John McManus June 7th, 2021

The ratio is clear. Uncertainty is a breeder-reactor of predictions. The more uncertainty, the more predictions. The more predictions, the more lost bets.

Winners take more, losers lose more.

So it goes with what force draws which people to move – when moving itself is undergoing a period of rampant uncertainty. The bets now have to do with work and the talent it takes to generate value at work – where-ever that needs to occur in a world full of uncertainty in the wake of its latest killer pandemic.

The Wall Street Journal staffer Rachel Feintzeig reports on data that may run contrary to widely-held view that people who can move are doing so in droves:

The percentage of job seekers who relocated for work fell to 5% in 2020 and 4.2% in the first three months of 2021, according to quarterly surveys of about 3,000 people from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. That’s down from 5.7% in 2019 and 9.6% in 2018.
Some of that dip might include would-be moves temporarily halted by virus concerns and interim remote-work setups. The numbers could tick upward as some companies start calling workers, including recent hires who joined virtually, to the office, says Andrew Challenger, a senior vice president at Challenger. But he and other demography and career experts say the pandemic likely accelerated a yearslong trend of falling worker relocations—at least when the boss is the one giving the directive.

Meanwhile, here's Bloomberg staffers Anders Melin and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou reporting on at least anecdotal evidence that there are new economy team members who'd rather quit than return full-time to a commute-to-the-office career.

It’s still early to say how the post-pandemic work environment will look. Only about 28% of U.S. office workers are back at their buildings, according to an index of 10 metro areas compiled by security company Kastle Systems. Many employers are still being lenient with policies as the virus lingers, vaccinations continue to roll out and childcare situations remain erratic.
But as office returns accelerate, some employees may want different options. A May survey of 1,000 U.S. adults showed that 39% would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work. The generational difference is clear: Among millennials and Gen Z, that figure was 49%, according to the poll by Morning Consult on behalf of Bloomberg News.

The leadership and management issues among organizations grappling with how to retain and attract talent, as well as what direct and indirect impacts that has on residential community development are the subject of this Harvard Business Review essay, contributed by co-authors Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, and Ivan Misner, Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of business networking consultancy BNI.

The template Morales and Misner offer for considering motivations and management of human capital in a post-pandemic business environment are doubly-relevant for residential construction and real estate community development's strategists. The model speaks to both broad societal behaviors everyone is making wild predictions about, and to the dynamics homebuilding enterprises and their partner organizations are dealing with in their own firms.

Fear has created stumbling blocks for many organizations when it comes to flexibility. Companies either become frozen by fear or they become focused by fear. It is focus that can help companies pivot during challenging times. In the years that we’ve been working with companies on flexibility, we’ve heard countless excuses and myths for why they have not implemented a flex policy. In fact, the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance has boiled these myths down to the fear of losing the 5 C’s:
Loss of control
Loss of culture
Loss of collaboration
Loss of contribution
Loss of connection

Predictions have proliferated, especially ones that presuppose a new normal of WFH, WFA, and a super-migratory post-pandemic diaspora that will re-shape second- and third-tier geographies and give new meaning to job center hubs.

What better time to focus intensely on the art of listening and the science of learning what buyers, would-be buyers, and would-be American Dreamers prefer, want, and need from those whose livelihoods and talent focus on new forms of shelter and community?

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John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.


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