It is that time of year again when conveyancers from across the UK come together to discuss important matters within the industry and trends for the future – National Conveyancing Week 2024.

The theme for the second day was mental health and well-being in the property sector, a topic that is often overlooked. In 2024, what are the residual impacts of COVID-19 on our sector’s mental health, what are the pressures faced by conveyancers, and what does working from home mean for our mental well-being?

Four years on from the COVID pandemic

While it may seem a long-distant memory for some, some within the industry believe that conveyancers are still reeling from the impacts of COVID-19 on UK property transactions. Robin Wells, Head of Sales Operations:

“I still firmly believe, as much as people will deny it, we’re still in a post-COVID slump in terms of struggling to cope with what happened and struggling to cope with what is normal.

The loss of human contact felt during the pandemic and since the shift to working from home has undoubtedly left many feeling isolated and lonely and grappling with the question of what normal now means. Robin goes on to say:

“What is normal now? What’s a normal working environment? What’s work-life balance? What should that be? These are all buzzwords and things that are being said, but actually, what is it? What’s healthy? What’s not healthy? I think people trying to come to terms with that and find out what it is and how they get the best out of themselves and the best quality of life while working in this environment is tough”.

It may be that, in many ways, we are all still somewhat shocked by what happened in 2019 and 2020. Not everyone has had the chance to go back, debrief, and have a collective conversation about what happened, how we felt, how we now feel, and what it now means for our livelihoods. National Conveyancing Week provides an excellent forum for this to happen.

The relentlessness of the industry on mental health and well-being

For conveyancers in the UK, the relentlessness and demands placed on them can have a negative bearing on their mental health and well-being. The seemingly endless cycle of meetings on Teams and Zoom can also make us feel disconnected. This is a sentiment that Robin Wells, Head of Sales Operations at OneSearch, resonates with:

“It is nice to go out with a customer out of the office and just say, how are you? It’s as simple as that. How are you? You’re not selling anything. That comes later. But you’ll just say, how are you? How have you been? How are you feeling? I mean, because of COVID, people don’t talk like that anymore. It’s straight onto teams, straight onto an agenda”.

So what is the solution? For Elizabeth Jarvis, Managing Director, the key is setting boundaries and being present with loved ones:

“It is easier said than done and as somebody who used to be the world’s worst for being on email late at night, it is putting firm boundaries in place for yourself. Not just for you but for being present for your loved ones, for people around you and your family. Because I think we all recognise that when your home life is going well then that has a really good positive impact on your professional and your working life too. So you don’t just owe it to us, we owe it to the people who are closest to us as well”.

Emotional rollercoaster

Conveyancers often find themselves responding to the demands of a market that is either overheated or in a lull. The impact of this on mental health is overlooked, but the reality is we are sometimes swinging from too busy to not busy enough, resulting in concerns over job security, a genuine ‘emotional rollercoaster’. As Elizabeth Jarvis explains:

“You see, when you look at it, you think when it’s boom, it’s stressful because we’re running about like mad trying to get all these transactions through when we think about 2022, everybody was just running to stand still. People were working huge hours, you know, just trying to get all these transactions through and make the most of a really buoyant market…And then the market flattens and goes towards a natural connection again and it takes time for it to come back. And then that’s when everybody realises that they need to be really competitive. And how do they do that? And, you know, how do they retain the talent through the difficult periods?”.

Final words

We should make the most of any opportunity to discuss the mental health of conveyancers. We have all been through such an immense period of turmoil in the form of COVID-19, and market conditions remain uncertain with the background of war in Ukraine and stubbornly high mortgage interest rates. The more that we can all get together, laugh, reflect, and be optimistic about the future, the better for our collective mental health. For Elizabeth Jarvis, “It is about getting in to see a customer, getting to see your colleagues again, having that laughter brought back in again into daily life”. After all, the British are experts at this; a packet of your favourite biscuits, a cup of tea, and a chat, is sometimes all it takes to feel ‘normal’ again.