How we’re reimagining housing

22nd November 2018

At RHP, we’ve just rolled out our new five-year strategy, setting out our big goals until 2023.

On the one hand a lot hasn’t changed for us – our purpose remains to provide good-quality homes and excellent services to anyone who can’t afford to live locally. Nothing particularly different there to what most of us in the sector are striving to achieve.

However, through our new strategy we’re aiming to reimagine housing. And by that, I mean trying things differently, pushing boundaries and disrupting the norm. Why? Because we want to build as many homes as we possibly can whilst simultaneously providing the best online service in the UK.

And to be able to achieve both of those things at the same time, we definitely need to use our imaginations.  

We plan to do this by focusing on four key areas:

1.       Reimagining service 

Imagine a world where customers find your website a joy to use.

We’ve come a long way on our journey of digital transformation and we plan to take this to the next level by 2023. I’m a true believer in digital by choice and I want our customers to choose our services because they’re better. Simple as that. In order to do this, we’ll be investing more in technology, improving our self-service options, so for the main part people won’t even need to contact us.

By 2023 we aim for 90% of all interactions to be made online (to date we have peaked at 70%) and we want our website to be more of a ‘lifestyle platform’ where customers go to reach other useful services not just our own.

And the best bit? Moving more services online will increase our efficiencies so we can build more homes and invest more money in improving our existing ones. 

2.       Reimagining money

Imagine a world where good quality homes are super low cost to build and run.

We know that to be able to achieve what we’re aiming to, we need to remain financially strong.

We believe that a key lever to releasing more financial capacity is to reduce our operating cost per home. In fact, we’ve become a bit obsessed with this and have already brought ours down to around £2,807 (17% better than our London peer group).

But we’re not stopping there – by 2023 we want it to be £2,500 and we’re not prepared to compromise on quality.

We’re of course thinking beyond 2023 too. We want to make sure we have the financial capacity to fund a long-term development programme of around 200 to 250 homes per year until at least 2028.

3.       Reimagining homes

Imagine a world where anyone who needs a home can access one at a cost they can afford.

We want to help more people to live locally whatever their need. Over the next five years we aim to build 1,000 new homes (double the amount from our last five-year strategy) and plan around half to be for social rent and half to be for young people struggling to rent or buy privately.

These won’t be any old homes either. They’ll not only be good-quality builds, but they’ll be smart and digitally enabled, using technology that connects a home and talks to us. Therefore, we’ll be able to fix any problems before a customer even knows they have one. Magic.

And we won’t just be applying this ethos to new homes – why should our current customers miss out? We’ll be investing more money in our existing homes, keeping them at a good standard and will be trialling smart home technology in both new and current properties with the view to rollout in both.

Modular construction techniques will help us keep building costs down, as well as providing a great solution for the intermediate market (those struggling to rent privately or still living with their parents). Our very own modular product LaunchPod will offer sub-market rent, allowing people more opportunity to save for a deposit and perhaps even use it as a stepping stone to buy one of our Shared Ownership homes. 

4.       Reimagining work

Imagine a world where work is what you do not where you go.

We know that our people will be our most valuable asset in achieving our ambitious goals over the next five years. Our special culture will be characterised by innovation and creativity – a place where ideas and bravery are valued, supported and encouraged, and where we get the very best out of people.

Our aim is for people’s work to fit around their personal lives and not vice versa. We want our employees to feel in control of how, where and when they work. We have started on this journey, looking at increasing the flexibility around how people work, however we still have some way to go.

People are increasingly building ‘portfolio careers’ defined by diversity of organisation, industry and roles. At RHP we describe this as seeing your career as a ‘climbing frame and not a ladder’ and will be finding more ways to support people to build up different skills in different areas.

We also plan to boost our investment in Learning and Development, making sure all employees have the skills they need to deliver an exceptional online service.

Quite simply, we aim to be the most exciting place to work in the UK.

And that’s not all.

We’ll continue to punch above our weight, becoming the test bed for new ideas in the sector, openly sharing our learning of what works and what doesn’t.

We want others to help imagine this new world with us and that’s why part of our strategy is to form partnerships with different types of like-minded organisations.

So, I challenge you to reimagine housing too. It’s easy if you try.

David

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