COVID-19: how the pandemic has impacted on RICS

"As professionals, we know the value of trust. It underpins everything we do"


  • Timothy Neal FRICS

22 October 2020

Illustration: Danilo Agutoli

Change can mean very different things to different people. However, no matter whether it comes from an external source or from a decision we make ourselves, our overall sense of control is paramount to how we view change.

This fundamental aspect of our psychology is what has made so much of the past six months so very challenging, and emotionally so hard to accept. We all know the sacrifices this has entailed – some disruptive, some tragic. 

At the level of public policy, the extent and nature of restrictions have varied around the world, but a major element of all responses has been the need for trust. Where we rely on others to make choices on our behalf, where we give up some direct control, in that space there must be trust – between people and their governments, between employers and employees, and between individuals. Without it, collective human life simply cannot function, and we undermine it at our peril.

As professionals, we know the value of this trust. It underpins everything we do as we work to fulfil our purpose of public advantage, and it is critical that we maintain this golden thread running through our actions and words in the course of our work, especially at this most stressful of times in our public life. 

I have been greatly encouraged by the way RICS professionals have grasped the importance of this moment, shown by the extraordinary resilience that they have demonstrated in their dedication to delivering for those they serve. I recognise the commitment that this has required, and it is to their credit that they have adapted so swiftly to enable clients and our wider societies to pursue both essential and discretionary activity in the built and natural environment.

Amidst this, we must acknowledge the need to pursue vital ongoing efforts to enhance and evolve how professionals meet the changing needs of society. This includes initiatives such as the Rules of Conduct Consultation, and the independent Review of Real Estate Investment Valuations, both of which aim to ensure that the ethics and standards that RICS professionals embody are relevant and trusted by the people, clients and societies that they support. I encourage you to consult the web pages and share your views on these important projects – the deadline for comments is respectively 23 October 2020 and 7 December 2020. 

I would also highlight the newly published Procurement of Facility Management code of practice, which will help drive transparency and consistency in this intensely relevant and fast-moving area.

Many of you will be aware of the changes that RICS is proposing for its own operating model in order to safeguard its long-term ability to support the profession sustainably. The acceleration of the digital transformation that did so much to support resilience during the pandemic’s early stages will surely support RICS’ ability to navigate the future, however opaque that future may seem. 

We must also recognise the uncertainty that aspects of the proposals may entail for RICS’ people, many of whom I know well from a lifetime of work together on issues we all care passionately about, and all of whom I admire for their professionalism and dedication to our shared mission. My thoughts are with them all at this challenging time.

"I have been greatly encouraged by the way RICS professionals have grasped the importance of this moment"

Change takes many forms, and it cannot always be something that we control. However, I know that by having confidence in our skills, and faith in the professionalism that personifies the whole RICS community, we can face the future with sureness of purpose and confidence of success, no matter what that future brings.

My best wishes to you all.