Our Super 8: The Sessions We are Really Looking Forward to at Housing 2020

CIH Housing 2020 speaker sessions

In 2020 and for one year only, the Chartered Institute of Housing's annual conference is going virtual. As always, the agenda looks to be jam packed with a host of industry expert speakers, here are sessions we cannot wait to see.

1.       Martina Lees and Sonia Sodha - 2020 reflections and looking to the future with leading commentators

Straight out of the gate on day 1, the 9-10am Keynote session features two of the most prominent journalists writing about the housing sector today.

Martina Lees is the Senior Property Writer at Times and Sonia, Chief Leader Write and Columnist at The Observer.

Their session will “reflect over one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory” as “the expert panel of political commentators will work through what these unprecedented challenges mean for the sector and our communities going forward.”

The hour-long slot will also discuss uncertainty created around Brexit and the current transition period and its implications to the housing sector and its wider impacts.

This session is only open to delegates, so do ensure you register as a delegate should you wish to join us in attending.

2.       Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP - Keynote address from the Housing Minister

Undoubtedly, one of the standout speaking sessions at Housing this year is the address from the Minister of State (Housing Minister).

Christopher Pincher was appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 13 February 2020.

Although specifics of the speaking session haven’t been released just yet, this session will be a must-attend for delegates concerned with how government policies are informing the activities of the sector now and into the future.

Join the Minister of State at 1pm on Monday 7th September.

3.       Fusion 21 and Tpas - Involving tenants in procurement and asset management

As this is an important subject for many of our clients, it is one that close to our hearts too.

Tenant engagement has been a hot topic for some time now and in this Innovation Hub session, Fusion 21 and Tpas present their findings of a joint research project on the matter.

In what is likely to be an insightful session, colleagues from both organisations will be joined by real tenants and housing provider procurement team members to outline “ways in which tenants can shape asset management and procurement at a strategic level.”

Alongside this, how ongoing tenant field testing and dialogue drives improvements in the products and services purchased by landlords.
After all, the tenants are those who live with the results of their landlords’ procurement decisions, therefore their input is warranted and should be valued.

The sessions takes place on Monday 7th September at 14.45 and is available to all conference goers.

4.       Sophie Seddon and John Palfreyman – How Housing Associations Can Benefit from Agile Working

Of course, we are slightly biased with our next selection as Sophie and John are Novus directors. However, if you are working for a Housing Association or Contractor, this one will be well worth a watch.

Taking place in Housing’s now famous Fringe arena, the session will focus on how “Agile working is about bringing people, processes, connectivity and technology together, to find the most appropriate and effective way of working.

Sophie and John will discuss what agile working truly means in our sector, the benefits of agile working practices for housing associations, and by extension, how it ultimately benefits tenants.

We hope you can make the speaker session; it takes place on Tuesday at 11.45am in the Fringe.

5.       Juha Kaakinen and Steve Douglas - Identifying new and innovative ways to tackle homelessness

Much of the social value work that Novus has done over the recent years has addressed homelessness in some way.

That’s why we’re really keen to hear what Juha Kakkinen and Steve Douglas have to say about innovations in tackling homelessness in their Keynote session on Tuesday.

‘Home’ means more than a roof over our heads they explain in their preview.

Their speaking event will discuss what it means to have a home and question whether we lose more than merely a place to sleep if we do become homeless.

We are hoping that their session will identify opportunities where the sector might make radical changes to benefit the homeless and inspire action to help tackle this issue.

Delegates can catch this session on Tuesday 8th at 10.30am.

6.       Chyrel Brown, Natalia Rogaczewska, and Joe Lane - Supporting tenants and communities through the COVID-19 recovery

How the sector recovers from the Covid-19 crisis is going to be a critical topic in the coming 12 months and beyond. This is a significant challenge particularly in the face of the deepest recession on record.

Shelter, the housing and homeless charity estimates that around 1.7 million renters expect to lose their job and Citizens Advice estimates that 2.6 million renters expect to fall behind on rent.

This speaker session discusses what can be done to support those people at risk.

Exploring the government’s interventions and welfare reforms required in supporting vulnerable tenants through the recovery, the speakers will explore practical strategies for landlords and what learnings can we acquire from other countries?

This session will take place on Wednesday 9th at 10.30am in the Fringe.

7.       The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP - Keynote address from the Secretary of State for Housing

Although there are no specifics as to what the Secretary of State for Housing will be covering in his session, it is sure to be a highlight of Housing 2020.

We are hoping that the session provides insight into the Government’s latest position and perhaps outline initiatives that are going to shape and influence how the sector behaves going forward.

Robert Jenrick was appointed Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on 24 July 2019 and is is responsible for the overall leadership and strategic direction of the ministry.

You can join the Secretary of State for Housing on Thursday 10th at 10.30am in the Keynote arena.

You will need to be a delegate to view the speaking event. You can register here >>

8.       Miles Attenborough, Colin Hall, Tara Gbolade, and Dr Ahsan Khan - Innovative and practical solutions to achieving sustainable homes and communities

Sustainability in construction and housing has been a key focus for a long time now but never has the issue been in such sharp relief.

The session will look at how we can transform the way we design, construct, and consume energy in new homes to enable a more sustainable future.

As experts in the field, the 4 strong panel will discuss practical examples of the available innovations and how they can be used to overcome the barriers to sustainability in homes.

Join us at Housing 2020

There is still time to register for the event >>

Novus are one of the main sponsors of CIH Housing this year and are exhibiting all week. We hope that you can stop-by our virtual stand and take the time to have a chat with a member of the team. See you on 7th September!

lady working from home


Here are our top tips to help remain healthy, happy, and productive whilst you are working from home. Like many businesses across the UK (and indeed globally), Novus closed their offices on Monday 23rd March in an effort to help halt the spread of coronavirus. Since then, working from home has become a new normal for many office-based colleagues up and down the country. For some who had previously worked this way on a regular basis, the situation was almost "business as usual" but for many, this proved somewhat unchartered waters that took a period of adjustment. Increasing infection rate With increasing coronavirus infection rates observed throughout September 2020, the Government once again recommended that people should work from home where possible. To help stay healthy, happy, and productive whilst working from home, we have compiled some top tips for colleagues and management. 1. Maintain regular hours of work Creating a healthy work life balance whilst working remotely can sometimes be hard, as there is the danger of the days becoming (at least to begin with) a little unstructured; starting earlier and finishing later due to getting caught up in work tasks. However, it is important to still that you structure your day like you would in an office, give yourself a start time, lunch time, and finishing time. And, make sure you stick to them! 2. Schedule breaks Again, structure and routine are important when working from home. It is very easy to get caught up in your work, extending your working times, not taking any breaks, and even working through your lunch. Regular breaks are an ideal way of keeping your mind fresh and maintaining productivity levels. Therefore, we suggest you schedule breaks in the same way that you would when working in the office. Get up and make yourself a cup of tea/coffee every so often and do ensure that you take a proper lunch break - eat, re-hydrate, and stay away from your emails! Maybe you could sit in the garden (weather permitting) for half an hour for a change of scenery? 3. Have a dedicated workspace No, you don't have to sit at a chair and a desk, it could just be your kitchen table! But just because you aren't in the office doesn’t mean you can't bring the office to your home, just set up camp somewhere you feel comfortable, won't get too distracted and (preferably) a place with a decent amount of sunlight. Dedicating a specific space adds familiarity, structure, and a sense of routine to a potentially unfamiliar situation. Why not tweet us a picture of your working from home space? @_NovusSolutions 4. Plan your work list Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to plan what you will be working on the following day. We've found that this will helps us to prioritise your job list, hit the ground running, and really focus on your work tasks.  5. Stay connected Whilst working from home can initially help you focus on work in the short term, it can become quite lonely in the long term, with one of the main complaints from remote workers being the feeling of social isolation. For the benefit of your own mental health and the quality of your work output, it is important to stay connected with your colleagues. Make use of technologies that enable video conferencing and instant messaging to stay in touch with your peers and always remember that you are part of a team contributing to a bigger picture. Managing a remote team: top tips for managers Along with the change in 'normal' office working comes a change in the way that we manage colleagues remotely. 6. Schedule monthly one-to-one meetings with each team member Staying connected with your team is crucial to maintaining a positive relationship with them. Host meetings from a distraction-free environment and minimise background noise where you can. Here is the opportunity to discuss colleague concerns, reinforce team wins and successes, and generally just have a chat - never underestimate the power of asking someone "how are you?" Be sure to focus your discussions on colleague welfare, setting SMART objectives that benefit not the only the business objectives but personal development. 7. Recognise that everyone is different Some colleagues may be perfectly happy working from home but for others, nothing could be further from the truth. Take the time to understand your team member's views and individual circumstances. 8. Trust your team You must trust that your team will work diligently towards their objectives without you controlling every aspect of how they carry out their work. We have seen over lockdown that performance has been as consistent as it was when we were all working in the office. Trusting your team to work conscientiously when you cannot see them is fundamental to the success or otherwise of flexible working in your team. Focus on the objectives you have set your team and if they are achieving them, and how you can support if not. 9. Watch for signs of burnout Research has shown that flexible and remote working carries a potential risk of colleagues working too many hours, resulting in early burnout and harm to a colleague’s wellbeing. Burnout often causes people to feel drained and tired, lacking the energy and motivation to complete their work. Burnout may also present physical symptons such as headaches or even stomach aches. A prolonged drop in normal performance levels should raise a red flag and warrant a conversation around colleague burnout. 10. Look after yourself! Make sure you look after yourself and the people around you by understanding and complying with all health and safety information. Things are changing all the time and it’s really important to keep up to date with Government COVID-19 guidelines. Claim tax back for working from home Not really a top tip but worth knowing, you can claim tax back while working from home.  Head to this page on the Government website to find out more. Have some working from home tips of your own? We hope you have found these tips useful and thank you for your support during this time. If you would like to contribute your own ideas to these tips, please share them via our social media channels. We can be found on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


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