Fiona Petrie is the EVP and Managing Director of RE/MAX INTEGRA U.S., the U.S. branch of the world’s largest real estate sub-franchisor.
While real estate is a highly mobile industry, it was customary for most agents to work in the physical brokerage locations prior to Covid-19. Traditionally, most brokerages have offered agents the flexibility of working remotely or in the office, either within a private or shared workspace. For agents, there tends to be great comfort in knowing they have an office to use should they desire.
Amid the pandemic, many states implemented regulations that forced professionals from several industries, including real estate, to work remotely for an indefinite time period. While many agents may have previously split their time between remote and in-office work, the new regulations forced them to take a hard look at their ability to effectively work from home.
As we continue to navigate the lasting impacts of the pandemic, many agents may look to optimize their working situation in order to become their most productive selves. For those agents, read on to find out what it requires to become a remote warrior.
Tips For Becoming A Remote Warrior
• Hold yourself accountable. Create a schedule for yourself, and stick to it. The day-to-day responsibilities of a real estate agent can be highly unpredictable, with sporadic client communications around every corner. When possible, always ensure that you know what tomorrow holds. Set daily micro-goals that contribute to your overall productivity.
• Find an accountability partner. While self-accountability and internal motivation is imperative in a remote setting, sometimes our own resolve may stumble in these challenging times. Having an accountability partner can help keep you in check and on track. Find a colleague you admire, and band together to create a support system focused on continuous productivity. Schedule regular check-ins to keep each other updated.
• Establish a workspace. Create a home office or determine a space that you can effectively work in. Set ground rules and boundaries with your family or housemates, and ensure those around you are aware of your designated workspace and work hours.
• Embrace technology. The sudden shift toward a virtual workforce has forced the real estate industry to modernize. Overnight, agents began to test out digital solutions that have long existed but may have previously been overlooked in this industry. Zoom, DocuSign and virtual tour platforms are enabling remote transactions across the industry. These solutions are empowering agents to provide a safe yet efficient experience for clients. Agents who embrace and seamlessly integrate these technologies into their business will thrive during these uncertain times and beyond.
Tips For Managing Remote Warriors
• Arm your agents with tools for success. As a broker/owner, it is your responsibility to equip agents with the tools and knowledge they need to navigate changing business and industry practices. Do not assume that your agents have the knowledge they need in order to succeed in a remote environment. For example, if you expect your agent to hold virtual open houses, make sure they have been trained on the latest technologies such as 3D home tours. Assess your agents’ weaknesses, and be available as a guide and a resource.
• Communication is essential. In-person interactions have historically been the bread and butter of the job — client meetings, open houses, etc. Real estate agents are highly sociable people. In a remote workforce, brokerage owners need to acknowledge their agents’ need for socialization and promote dialogue between peers and managers. It’s critical for leaders to communicate two to three times more with remote workers than you typically would. Set regular virtual meetings and ensure that your agents are well supported.
• Find new avenues to express company culture. Company culture is a buzzword in business, often used to attract new talent. During these times, it’s imperative that broker/owners place a special focus on maintaining and promoting a strong company culture. In a remote setting, managing brokers must find ways to continue to virtually express this culture. Virtual happy hours have become increasingly popular over the course of the pandemic. Some even put a twist on the event with game nights, cooking classes, themed costume parties and more. For brokerages experiencing video fatigue, utilize private Facebook pages. This can be the perfect channel for sharing and celebrating agents’ accomplishments and milestones.
Remote work undeniably has its benefits. For some, it will dramatically increase productivity. For others, it will promote a healthier work-life balance. Broker/owners are seeing the success of remote work, and this format will likely continue even after the pandemic. Both agents and managing brokers must remain nimble and tenacious while empowering themselves — and each other — to be remote warriors.