Contractors struggling to find accommodation while working away from home
A new report highlights the logistical challenges facing the corporate housing and contractor accommodation sector during Covid-19 lockdowns.
Contracting teams including infrastructure firms, builders, healthcare workers and engineers, are facing a dwindling supply of suitable accommodation, as national lockdown measures continue to bite. But while demand is increasing, accommodation providers are becoming nervous about housing teams of temporary contractors who are required to work away from their own homes.
In some parts of the UK, accommodation supply has shrunk by more than 70%, and more than half of property providers focused on the contractor and corporate housing market, are feeling “concerned and worried”.
The report, ‘State of Contractor Accommodation and Corporate Housing’ was commissioned by ‘The Right Property Group’, and Comfy Workers, and investigates current industry challenges facing the professionals who book corporate housing for their teams and companies.
With the UK government and local borough councils recommending ‘bubbles’ to help curb the spread of coronavirus, apartments and residential houses are fast becoming the preferred choice for contracting teams, rather than hotels and other communal and shared spaces. This growing trend is expected to continue after lockdown, as companies consider ‘whole property accommodation’ for housing larger groups of employees.
The report also reveals how accommodation providers are increasingly keen to house only one type of guest, choosing between corporate housing and contracting teams, or leisure focused guests. According to 100 serviced accommodation providers, their feelings on the future are of increasing unease. Just 21 per cent expressed optimism or positivity, with almost 60% reporting they were worried and concerned.
The shrinking supply of self-contained and serviced accommodation is also clearly shown on leading online booking platforms, such as booking.com and Airbnb. Most towns and cities are facing considerable reductions in suitable accommodation. London, for example, had 70% in supply cuts, while the general trend in other areas show reductions of around 20%.
The report specifically highlights the concerns for teams of specialists, and other highly skilled workers required to work away. Unlike other team members, specialist roles are more difficult to be replaced. To prevent contamination from larger ‘bubbles’, specialists are being housed alone, or with only a few people, increasing demand for smaller housing units.
With Government lockdown guidance constantly changing, the report reveals the vital importance of increased flexibility. Cancellations and date changes are more common than ever, and adapting to them is crucial. Downscaling is a situation that often requires the most flexibility, especially as sites can be forced to close at very short notice. All respondents to the survey mentioned flexibility as vital for business success.
The coronavirus pandemic is a world-shattering event whose far-ranging consequences can only begin to be imagined today. But just as this disease is shattering lives, disrupting markets and exposing the competence, (or lack thereof) of governments, it is already showing the growing importance of working together, in partnership and trust. Although accommodation hosts and their guests have always depended on each other, this new report shows while battling the virus, this relationship is now becoming indispensable.