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My New Normal: CBRE Manchester's Joe Rigby On Kids, Lego And Home-Working Dads

This series aims to capture a moment in time, talking to men and women in commercial real estate about how their lives and businesses are being transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.

We've heard of dad dancing, and dad clothes, but is there such a thing as dad home-working?

CBRE Manchester Director of Occupier Services Joe Rigby is, like most of the city’s property industry, working from home. 

But he's not alone because his wife and children are also working from home, which creates new problems and rewards for parents like himself.

My New Normal: CBRE Manchester's Joe Rigby On Kids, Lego And Home-Working Dads
Joe Rigby and the kids, all working from home

Bisnow: Describe your work-from-home life. 

Rigby: The day starts with some exercise at 6am, at 8am it’s a daily call with John Ogden, CBRE’s northern region managing director, on supporting our people and clients, then significant bandwidth is being taken up on multiple Zoom calls with clients and team members. My wife is now home-schooling our two children, who are 3 and 6, whilst continuing to run her own business and doing an incredible job — I try and log off around half past five. 

Bisnow: What was your lowest low and the highest high these last few weeks?

Rigby: The lowest low was hearing that some of my friends and colleagues have been affected by COVID-19.

The highest high was celebrating my son's sixth birthday at home and building Lego all day!

Bisnow: What are you doing at home to keep your sanity?

Rigby: Checking in on family members via FaceTime, Peloton bike riding, being a football coach to my kids with cones and nets for drills and shooting practice, and a virtual poker tournament every Friday with my mates so I can continue to lose money to them even in isolation ...

I am missing going to watch my beloved Manchester United so when everyone is in bed I’ll watch a few reruns of games of years gone by (when we were slightly more successful). 

Bisnow: What have you learned about your business or the industry in the last few weeks?

Rigby: Firstly, in terms of the CBRE business, just how resilient it is. How we are organised both globally and regionally has ensured that we can keep up business as usual for our clients. Everything that has come out both in internal and external comms has been really positive, which has directly impacted the team.

In terms of the industry, everyone is clearly pulling together. This is affecting everyone in a multitude of ways but how the industry as a whole has reacted has been amazing to see. 

Bisnow: How do you think the coronavirus could permanently affect the way real estate does business?

Rigby: We are certainly in extraordinary times, which is forcing people, teams and organisations to think and work differently. How this will change the industry is yet to be determined, but we are in the midst of the largest workplace analysis ever undertaken. 

People will always want to interact and see people in person. Building personal relationships is not only great for productivity but more importantly it’s great for the mind. Whilst occupiers may look to review their strategy in terms of how they occupy space, there will always be a place for the office (just ask my wife).

My New Normal: CBRE Manchester's Joe Rigby On Kids, Lego And Home-Working Dads
Fun for all the Rigby family

Bisnow: How are you transitioning your life and business to the home front? 

Rigby: I spent a period of time working from home in previous roles at CBRE so adapting to the working environment wasn’t too much of a challenge. I am well set up in terms of technology and the applications that are embedded into our systems enable us to communicate frequently. I'm not sure how we all would have coped 15 years ago.

Bisnow: What is the state of your business at the moment?

Rigby: I am lucky to be part of this great company. Our CEO, Bob Sulentic, announced on Monday that CBRE aims to raise $15M, which is to be allocated to CBRE Foundations, a COVID-19 fund that will support community needs around the world. The company have committed to donate $5M and then match employee contributions up to a further $5M. It’s by far the biggest donation and fundraising programme CBRE has ever undertaken. For me this speaks volumes and shows how well CBRE is positioned to rise to this challenge.

Bisnow: What is your greatest business concern right now?

Rigby: My greatest concern is for the people that feel isolated. I have a wife and two young children who keep me occupied when out of work. We have employees young and old who live alone and cannot visit loved ones due to government restrictions. I can’t imagine how hard this must be and making sure these people feel connected should be everyone’s priority.

Bisnow: What are you most hopeful about today?

Rigby: There is lots to be hopeful and more importantly thankful for: the amazing NHS and the critical work they are doing and science saving the day and finding a vaccine.