Leadership

Thanksgiving Wishes To Workers Among Workers In Homebuilding

The transformation we've seen begin in residential real estate, construction, and their ecosystem in the last several years is one with both the future of home and work at the heart of it, toward expanded belonging. So, thank you.

Leadership

Thanksgiving Wishes To Workers Among Workers In Homebuilding

The transformation we've seen begin in residential real estate, construction, and their ecosystem in the last several years is one with both the future of home and work at the heart of it, toward expanded belonging. So, thank you.

November 23rd, 2022
Thanksgiving Wishes To Workers Among Workers In Homebuilding
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At Thanksgiving time in 2022, a pair of futures – of home and of work -- zoomed in ahead of schedule. Here they are now, tangled together somehow as a big riddle to solve this decade, or else.

A quote we noted last year at this time feels timeless.

To us, our house was not unsentient matter -- it had a heart, and a soul, and eyes to see us with; and approvals and solicitudes and deep sympathies; it was of us, and we were in its confidence, and lived in its grace and in the peace of its benediction.”

Mark Twain

So, we'll either do what's got to be done to overcome our challenges with those tangled futures, or we'll learn what not to do.

Either way, one thing we're most thankful about, having met, spent time with, listened to, learned from, felt for, and seen in action for more than 20 years – the people whose livelihoods spring from making homes and neighborhoods for others – is this:

  • Homebuilding transformation happens today, now, always. It goes on in infinitesimal ways 24/7 among countless people relating to people, working together, working for one another and for others. The transformation we've seen begin in residential real estate, construction, and their ecosystem in the last several years is one with both the future of home and work at the heart of it, toward expanded belonging.
  • The pulse of that transformation – be it in building technologies that will one-day industrialize homebuilding, in capital investment and lending, or in the sphere of local and non-local policy – is cultural and its future stands on the shoulders and backs of past giants and present everyday people.

The heart of both the future of home and the future of work is belonging, a word that comes to mean what it does via its origins in the 14th Century.

Mid-14c., "to go along with, properly relate to," from be- intensive prefix, + longen "to go," from Old English langian "pertain to, to go along with," which is of uncertain origin but perhaps related to the root of long (adj.). The senses of "be the property of" and "be a member of" are attested from late 14c. Cognate with Middle Dutch belanghen, Dutch belangen, German belangen.

Belonging – like a livelihood and a good home – is a primal need, something others permit, something we make happen, and something we treasure always as a gift. In each case, somebody pays for it, somebody works for it, others permit it, and somebody flourishes because of it. Its value spreads.

They're where necessity, effort, achievement, and gratification converge.

Simply, these are the superpowers of people who own, run, work for, partner with, and engage with the nation's capacity to develop and build homes and communities. Their constantly-refreshing and updating capability is in bringing belonging into the real world in real time.

That doesn't happen by accident nor by fate, which is how and why we're both grateful and hopeful this Thanksgiving Day, even as dark days and hard times sit squarely in the path of better times for our business community and its people. We know they've got both staying power, and the ability to step up, partly because of the mantle of belonging they put on every day and in everything they do, and partly because they work so that others may wear that mantle of purpose and belonging as well.

Future people count. There could be a lot of them. And we can make their lives better. To help others as much as possible, we must think about the long-term impact of our actions.
The idea that future people count is common sense. - The Case For Longtermism, William MacAskill

An instance comes from a more personal side of life.

The person I've come to know and love the best in my life got heralded as a hero in Spring 2020, when Covid hit.

She'd get up, go out, and do her job. And for that, many people who know her or came in contact with her regarded her as a hero. For her, though, what she woke up and prepared to do that day when she arrived on the job – taking care of patients in hospital units suffering from a brand new, often fatal coronavirus – was like anybody else going to work. She would gown-up, double-mask, wear a protective face shield and gloves, and then go do what she'd schooled, trained, and practiced doing for more than four decades, trying to help sick people get better.

She'd shy from being called a hero, for she thought it should apply to others, not her.

I'm doing what I signed up to do, that's all," she'd say. "It's a time like now that's the reason I've worked my whole career. To be ready to do this."

To others, her actions show bravery. To others, her attitude and resolve – to simply go and do her job the best she can – show nobility.

What's come clear to me about the people who make up the community that is homebuilding, development, design, manufacturing, distribution, and all the related stakeholders is an identical trait and regard for what they do.

Again, the bright spots to be thankful now remain those we took note of last year:

  • Embrace of new homes .... The moment the COVID-19 pandemic laid its heavy hand on life-as-we-know-it, a collective switch flipped. Because of all the groundwork builders had done for decades to make new homes safer, healthier, more-connected, and more resilient, no refuge nor sanctuary for the flocks of people seeking it offered what new-homebuilders and developers design, produce, and activate in their 2,300-or-so square foot homes and communities.
  • Policy support ... Recognition that the essential nature and societal fabric impact of the livelihoods and ongoing work of home production and a robust pool of ready-demand for the output bridged two Presidential Administrations, bipartisan action, trillions of dollars of support in low borrowing costs for all, forbearance programs, stimulus, etc., and sustained focus on housing as a necessary and increasingly critical dimension of America's stability and dynamism.
  • Demographics ... Millennials' partially-delayed arc on the path to peak earnings, their lifestage pivots to households and communities that they intend to mark with their own signature, and their roles in regenerative family formation give pan-cyclical visibility to the promise of community making; as does the universe of wealth-holding 55-plus adults, powered by healthier aging and expanding community options.
  • Leadership intention/presence ... Clear signs that evolving and committed paths of improved respect, regard, and care for workers at all levels of housing's value cycle – asserted as essential business success tools, investments, and imperatives among industry leaders  -- can and will transform residential real estate and homebuilding workplace and jobsite culture to attracted skill, talent, merit-based associates of all colors, creeds, gender, and financial levels.
  • Innovation, technology, data science ... "Better homes, built better" today comprises holistic solutions around health, location and placemaking, access, lifetime value, environmental, economic, and social impact, durability, attainability, aspiration, work-life balance, empowerment, and well-being. Innovators in process, leadership and strategy, capital applications and investment, building technology, design, and engineering, materials sciences, home technology, and friction-freer buying-selling-renting of properties suggest the early 2020s will go down as the early-curve inflection point for innovation solutions for housing.
  • Partnership as a strategy ... At no time like the present has the risk-benefit profile for future-fitness, sustainable prosperity, and dynamism so favored operations and investments in an aligned ecosystem of trusted partners. From the basics of attracting a new next generation of human talent and workers into the field, to the capability of securing resilient supply chains that support just-in-time lean asset light investments, even-flow production, and long-term value-generation solutions platforms. Learning to collaborate – as a foundational goal – has gained a strategic foothold.
  • Resolve/no-quit and fun ... Such are the human souls of those who choose homebuilding as careers that the obstacle course of messy reality stirs redoubled effort, fiercer determination, and an elevated focus on what matters most. Then, to top that off, they have fun, infectious, contagious fun going at it.
  • Adaptiveness ... Understanding, as Mark Twain notes above, that houses – single-family, multifamily, attached, detached, vertical, clustered, rural, or urban – are not "unsentient matter" nor a "consumer durable" nor a unit, but places with "hearts, and souls, and eyes to see us with," builders and their partners constantly reframe the business that they're in around the people they serve.
  • Kindness ... where else, other than in the homebuilding community, do lives get touched and lifted and hugged and nurtured, as they do everyday of every week of every month of every year in homebuilding. Programs such as the Building Homes for Heroes initiative willingly embraced by Melbourne, FL-based Holiday Builders and Habitat for Humanity’s Veterans Build program, Operation Finally Home, Homes For Our Troops (HFOT), the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program, The Warrior’s Project, sponsored by Operation: Warrior’s Path, Operation Homefront's Homes on the Homefront, and PulteGroup's decade-long Built to Honor. Kindness and support run deep in this livelihood.
  • Resources ... Finally, what ensures the certain capability of individuals and teams – across the many bridges that connect homebuilders to investor-lenders, developers, planners, municipal officials, Federal policymakers, manufacturers, distribution partners, architects, engineers, building crew members, data scientists, etc., to meet and overcome the severest most threatening and existential challenges is the foundation of plenty. Those resources may be finite, but their limits define opportunity to learn to replenish them and help them regenerate as we discover – again and again – what home means and why homes matter.

You make up a culture of people who show up and do your job, and in so doing transform on a daily basis the present and future of work, of home, and of belonging.

We say, thank you for all of that.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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