The Ethics of Innovation in a PropTech-centric Workplace

Regardless of your business or the industry you’re in, technology and its pace of change, is forcing you to adapt at an unprecedented rate.

Adopting technology into your growth strategy is a no-brainer. But some technologies require the type of change that has a real impact on human values, like privacy. Without a clear ethical position, employees lose faith in their management’s integrity, and rather than benefit from tech, the business suffers.

When adopting technology, companies need to do more than just ensure regulatory compliance. To retain the trust of increasingly sceptical workforces, consumers, and even public, they must invest even further.

Is there a Sheriff in Town?

Somebody has to be on top of things, to make sure the proverbial mick isn’t being taken.

A property management company that installs the latest people management software in order to know who, what and when is going on in their apartment building, is understandable enough. There’s nothing wrong in having sensors detect how many people there are on premises at a given time. That data is useful in optimising the consumption of electricity, or ensuring compliance with insurance requirements. But who decides where the sensors are installed and where their purview ends? Should biometric sensors be able to see what you’re up to within your apartment?

Many businesses are now employing Ethics Officers to avoid any blurred lines. To ensure that technology, despite all the good intentions behind it, isn’t used to abuse.

Attention to Detail 

With the exception of those few industry dinosaurs, the use of PropTech is exploding. Property companies are recognising the need to fold-in new management policies in response to seismic paradigm shifts.

The right technology should empower the workforce, not compromise it. Tech’s impact on productivity can be enormously positive if integrated correctly.

Take virtual property tours during the pandemic. As the industry literally ground to a halt, estate agents were able to show their properties remotely – and more importantly – safely, thus giving their business a vital lifeline.

Against the Algorithms

Recent advances in technology have offered employers many new powers. For example, the rise in flexible working environments has seen the emergence of new technologies that track workforce behaviour from wherever you’re working. But there’s a flipside. For example, Keylogging technology can often leave team members feeling mistrusted. Retaining and hiring talent becomes a problem directly resulting from the mis-application of tech.

An algorithm might say ‘yes’, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always the smartest move for a company to adopt a certain tech strategy or application across the entire business.

Handle with Care

Any new tech project that sits in conflict with a company’s core values and culture is most probably doomed to fail. Perhaps more concerning though, are companies that misuse technology or data. What happens if digital adoption goes wrong?

If caught breaching data protection laws, firms can face hefty penalties.

And what of those who suffer as a consequence? Take content writing technologies. Algorithms whose input biases result in misrepresentations of facts, can have serious ramifications. You can’t describe a property as ‘bright’ if it hardly gets any natural light. In such cases It’s just not acceptable to blame the technology. Senior management should be accountable for any decision that may affect the business, both financially or ethically.

Take it from the Top

The first step is to hire the right people to manage your technological expertise, at senior level. Choose the right PropTech from the range of options available, that help you achieve your goal. Employ an expert. Someone who knows what the tech team is doing, and why they’re being employed to do it. Or consider hiring external ethics ‘Guardians’, as some companies are now doing. Make them accountable for the technological decisions the company makes. 

But ultimately the buck must stop with the chief in command. Ethics and innovation is undoubtedly a balancing act. But trust and transparency is also an attitude that needs to come from the top.

The Bottom Line

PropTech apps are there to solve a problem. As long as they’re used in the right way, and well-managed internally, bottom lines increase. Customer experiences are elevated. Employees perform to their optimum. And businesses reap the rewards.


OVERWRITE.ai is a world first, user-friendly marketing solution that allows estate agents to instantly autowrite unique, search-optimised property descriptions, taking the boring out of the daily grind.

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Amarri L
17 days ago

Great read. Thanks.