Jarred Kessler is the CEO of EasyKnock.
If you ask me, working from home is amazing. You can wear pajamas from the waist down, you have no commute and you can even sleep in. I understand that the process of reading on a train or after-work drinks with your co-workers has been lost, but there has also been much to gain. Pre-pandemic, the real estate industry was lagging in remote work opportunities, but we’ve shown we’re as adaptable as any industry out there. The fast-paced nature and culture of the real estate industry do present some unique challenges, though. Here is some of my best advice to keep your real estate business humming, even while you’re working from home.
Create A Designated Workspace
Your garage (or as we call it in my house, Le Garage) is not only a Covid-safe area, it’s also an often underused area that’s perfect for a home office. As you work you can have fresh air coming in through the open doors, or you can purchase a moderately priced plug-and-play heating or cooling unit if you need a more temperate climate. In your detached workspace, take advantage of whatever direct light you can access. Regulated sunlight may reduce headaches, stress and drowsiness in workers, and possibly even increase worker satisfaction and combat anxiety. Adding a rug or carpet and inexpensive personal touches like proper work lighting can make it feel more like a room than a garage. If you don’t have a garage, you might be able to construct a shed that is not connected to your house for the same use.
Creating a structure or space that can hold guests or have an office set up, all while maintaining space between your main house, can be a huge bonus. This could be cheaper than you think and, as a bonus, add more resale value than you might expect.
Don’t Think You Have To Sacrifice A Traditional Morning Meeting
Whether you’re in a more traditional real estate brokerage or a real estate tech startup, a lot of companies in this industry opt for a morning meeting to get everyone off on the right foot and up to date. The industry moves fast, after all. With the pandemic, it’s not as simple as throwing down a dozen donuts to draw a crowd into the conference room. But that doesn’t mean you should give up the morning meeting if you feel it’s important for your business.
Set a virtual meeting, but make sure that you keep it short and sweet by sticking to a simple meeting outline. Zoom fatigue is real, and you can help combat it in your staff by sticking to the essentials. You might also consider incentivizing morning meeting attendance and/or participation. For instance, budget to have a delivery service send some donuts and coffee for each staff member who showed up and made a contribution at every meeting over the course of a week.
Take Advantage Of Industry-Geared Virtual Networking Events
Conventions almost seem like a weird fever dream at this point. Did we really travel cross-country to conventions, stay in overcrowded hotels and sit in rooms packed with people to get the latest dish on the industry? Oh, yes, we did. Now, many of the same outcomes can be achieved through virtual networking events. We can get together online via video conference, chats or even virtual reality events and learn a lot of the same things and meet a lot of the same people.
At EasyKnock, we’ve even set up virtual events for our staff that aren’t necessarily work-related. For instance, we moved our holiday party to a virtual platform. It allowed us all to get together, celebrate and communicate so that we could connect and team build. Other team-building events go over great in a virtual environment, like office game night or virtual happy hour.
Remember That Work And Life Are Separate
In the real estate business, it’s hard enough to manage some semblance of work-life balance, but this has been especially true during the pandemic. It’s so easy to just go do one more little thing when your desk is just across the house that you’ve been in almost 24/7 for a year or better. That’ll wear you down, though. No one can be “on” all the time. It’s important that your staff knows that, too, and that your company culture enforces the idea that downtime is a good thing and not something that’s going to set them back.
Set working hours and stick to them. When it comes to client contacts, it can be even harder to set aside work until the following day, but laying out your working hours ahead of time so that clients know when it’s appropriate to call and when it’s not can help. At the very least, make sure that you put it all away on occasion. Shut the door to your office and pretend it’s not there on the weekend so that you can spend time with your family and friends. We are in a new world and it can be exciting.
If you have the ability to upgrade your home and workspace and want to, this is a great time. If you are a little more challenged right now, there are small ways to make changes. At the end of the day, if it’s warm enough, there is nothing better than working in your backyard — all you need is a table, umbrella and Wi-Fi and you can connect with the whole office safely from your own home. The pandemic has forced us to adapt and change the way we handle business, and I think that it will change how we work from here on out, even when in-person interactions are safe again.