Five skills every surveyor should be developing in 2021

With COVID-19 putting unprecedented pressure on our businesses, and repeated lockdowns leaving us with more time at home, now is a great time to build up your skill sets in some crucial areas


  • Brendon Hooper

13 January 2021

Illustration: Veronica Cerri

1. Client management/soft skills

Professionals in direct contact with clients and customers should always look for ways to improve those business relationships. This has become more important than ever at a time when our ability to maintain those relationships in person has been curtailed.

Building a trusting relationship with clients and customers can be achieved by strengthening your array of soft skills, which include how you communicate and behave with others, how you make decisions, and how you organise yourself and work.

You can enhance your communication skills by meeting new people and working with them. While opportunities to do this have been limited by the pandemic, you could still consider volunteering somewhere you will talk to the public, such as helping people who have been forced to self isolate. Or, if you’re in lockdown, consider an online course in how to give more effective work presentations. 

To develop your leadership skills, consider mentoring, resolving conflict between friends or colleagues, or motivating others by organising fun or educational activities.

2. Get into BIM and other digital productivity tools

As most professionals know, the use of technology is now completely intertwined with our day-to-day business operations, and with the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is a relationship that will only grow stronger over the coming years.

Companies should always try to ensure they are up to date with the latest technological developments that are revolutionising our ways of working. For example, building information modelling (BIM) has now become a common methodology used on construction projects, and to maintain a competitive offering, you must be able to understand how it impacts your work, and how your projects may need to be managed through it.

By learning to implement BIM into your work, understanding how it’s evolving and how to take advantage of its development, you can better demonstrate your added value to clients.

3. Sustainability

Sustainability has become absolutely integral to good business practice. Today, there is a growing emphasis on businesses to highlight their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, which socially conscious investors such as BlackRock CEO Larry Fink are increasingly looking to when screening potential investments. 

ESG criteria also help investors avoid companies that could pose a greater financial risk due to their environmental or social practices.

Therefore, to keep your business attractive to investors, clients and customers, managing staff should regularly consider their company’s energy use, waste and recycling levels, the amount of pollution they might produce, which environmental regulations they should be complying with, and which sustainable products could be used throughout the business.

Moreover, does the company work with suppliers that hold the same values? Or what more could be done to encourage employees to volunteer in the local community?

4. Personal resilience

The Harvard Business Review defines resilience as “the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity.” And according to the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, the ability to build resilience is a skill that will serve you well in an increasingly stressful work world. Furthermore, research by PwC found that companies that encourage resilience training benefit from lower health care costs, higher productivity, lower absenteeism and decreased turnover.

People working from home, perhaps alone or while juggling childcare, can experience a wide range of emotions during the day. Training yourself to manage your emotions, as well as understand others’, is vital for interacting day to day with co-workers, friends and family.

5. Growing your business

In less unusual times, even for very-well established businesses, maintaining growth can be a challenge. The pandemic has only made this challenge harder. However, businesses should continue to take the time to explore individual ways in which they can grow.

Among the measures you should be considering are:
  • looking into how you could increase your sales or services, both to existing and new customers;
  • improving your products and services by researching and testing changes with your customers;
  • looking for additional sources of funding, such as bringing in new investors;
  • training your current staff, which could include working with apprentices and mentors.

In addition, businesses should be prepared to adapt to the constant changes happening around them. This means being flexible where possible, and motivating and engaging your teams in building the future, via short-term, long-term, local and global perspectives.


RICS Professional Support Packages for 2021

RICS’ new professional support packages have been designed exclusively to help members and candidates advance their professional development, navigate their way to professional status or drive their organisation forward in 2021. 

Whether you are an RICS candidate, an RICS qualified professional, or you simply want to provide greater support to your team, a Professional Support Package will allow you to access courses on topics such as the five listed in this article – as well as many others – for one flat fee throughout 2021. 

The package will last until the end of the year (not a 12-month period) so it is recommended to sign up as soon as possible. What’s more, a discounted offer is available until 15 January, so sign up now.