Work from Home: Can You Keep the Brokerage Business Going?

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The world seems to be in an indefinite pause, as the novel coronavirus outbreak surges. In the real estate industry, there’s also a lull, as open houses get postponed and negotiations come to a halt. Although all of these may be gloomy at a glance, believe it or not, real estate business operations can continue — without compromising the health of your employees. The key? A work-from-home (WFH) arrangement. 

Here are some of the frequently asked questions on how you can pull off this work set up:

How Do We Prepare a Brokerage Business for a Work from Home Set up?

First things first, set specific goals. The most important question you should ask is: what exactly should your brokers accomplish? Beyond the work itself, the quality of the output you expect from them should be crystal clear, as well as the timeline they’re supposed to work on before you send them home. The more detailed your expectations are, the better. Remember, once you send them home (and community quarantines or lockdowns are put in place), you might not have a good opportunity to interact with them physically, so you want to get things in order right before you transition to WFH.

Aside from the work, the gear is equally important in preparations. Obviously, your brokers would need tools to accomplish their tasks in this work set-up. At the most basic level, they should have a laptop and a smartphone. Use task management software to monitor the progress of work. An official instant messaging platform is also necessary to keep communications centralized.

How Can I Keep Employees Engaged?

Schedule regular online meetings. The day and the frequency would depend on your company’s needs. What’s important in these meetings is you focus on three things: accomplishments, to-do’s, and concerns. Think of it as your weekly team huddle discussing progress reports. Before you transition to WFH, agree on the video conferencing tool you’re going to use.

Aside from team huddles, it’s also good to have one-on-one check-in meetings with employees. Some concerns, especially personal ones, may not be freely discussed in team gatherings. The one-on-one should help address that. At the same time, this will boost the morale of each of your members, knowing that they can depend on their leader at such a time of uncertainty.

What Do We Do with Our Open Houses?

If you want to be on the safe side, postpone them indefinitely. Of course, if there’s a community quarantine in the location of your site, your brokers should stay indoors and strictly work from home. Encourage them to use alternative ways of showing property to interested buyers, say, through photos, videos, or 3D virtual tours on your website. Clients may not see the actual thing, but this will definitely keep them interested.

If ever there’s no lockdown yet in your area and you decide to push through with an actual open house, practice great caution. Set up alcohol and sanitizers at the entryway of the property. Place soap and tissue in bathrooms. Practice social distancing and encourage clients to disinfect before and after the tour. When the walkthrough is done, sanitize surfaces that are commonly touched, including doorknobs, stairway handles, windows, and kitchen countertops.

The bottom line is, tell your brokers to be discerning of the risk situation in the specific locations of your properties. Monitor what’s happening in those sites and send updates to your messaging platform.

What About Our Other Events?

As for any seminars or networking engagements, again, exercise caution. If it’s possible to take it online and keep people working at home, that would be the best situation for all parties involved. Use available technologies, such as software apps to support your online gatherings.

If you do choose to go with the physical one, scale it down to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to more people. Open windows and doors whenever possible to make sure the venue has good ventilation. Record the names and contact details of attendees and give them a heads up that you’ll share their information to health officials if necessary.

What If Employees Still Want to Report to Office?

Practice cleanliness in the workplace in all aspects. Sanitize common areas and surfaces, such as desks, tables, phones, and laptops. Make sure that trash bins have lid covers to prevent the spread of the virus from used tissues. Set up alcohol counters in shared areas.

As for personal hygiene, employees should practice regular handwashing and avoid face touching. 

The novel coronavirus has an extensive impact on plenty of businesses, especially in the real estate industry — all the same, you can do something in preventing losses and threats in your operations.

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