As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shift and evolve, more companies are rethinking their work from home (WFH) policies and operations.
We know the crisis will leave a lasting mark on our communities and businesses, and some experts are predicting a large scale shift to WFH long after the days of the coronavirus are behind us.
And that makes sense for big tech companies, but could WFH really become the default in a business as personal as real estate?
As a remote-first company serving the real estate community, we know remote work and we know real estate. We’re here to help you make sense of the shift to WFH by offering insight into how real estate agents are staying productive today, along with evergreen tips to help you create the best possible work from home experience, now and in the future.
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According to a study from the University of California, it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back to productive work after being distracted. And it doesn’t matter what distracted us—a Twitter notification, a chatty spouse, an unexpected call. It could be anything.
But every distraction will cost you.
If you’re a real estate agent working from home, your first priority is to protect your focus. So, take the time to create and sustain a distraction-free home office. (And yes, it’s totally ok if it’s just your dining room table.)
Next, set aside one hour per day for distraction-free prospecting. Most agents will find mornings work best, but any time during the day is fine. What matters is that you find a time you can stick to.
Here are a few tips to help you focus while working from home:
“With the uncertainty in our market, I use my CRM to help me stay in flow with the potential clients in my pipeline. Each day, I prioritize reviewing and working my Follow Up Boss tasks. NOTHING comes before my tasks are complete each morning.”
— John Ringgold, CEO at Team Ringgold, Keller Williams One Legacy Partners
Source: Anonymized data of more than 50,000 knowledge workers worldwide found that most of us can’t resist checking our email or messages for longer than an hour.
When it comes to productivity killers, stress is one of the usual suspects.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 56% of workers claimed that stress and anxiety affected their work productivity the most. Unfortunately, working from home can add to the problem. Loneliness, lack of communication, and difficulties unplugging top the list of struggles every remote worker will inevitably face.
The pressure can be double for real estate agents.
As a Realtor, you’re seen as a leader in your community. You’re expected to inspire strength and confidence—but that can be hard to do if you’re coming from a place of stress and anxiety.
Beyond the common advice to try breathing techniques, meditation, and get as much exercise as you can, there are a few other WFH productivity tips that can help.
Here are a few ideas to keep your stress in check when working from home:
“I believe the consumer will be needing our advice and help even more once things settle down. At this time, I want to be a valuable resource to anyone that has questions about how the virus is affecting the market. But beyond anything critical, we have been focused on responding to our clients and prospects with humanity and empathy on how this is affecting them, healthwise and financially, given all the recent job cuts that should continue to happen over the next couple of months.”
—Judith Weiniger, CEO & Broker, Weiniger Realty
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Without the hours spent commuting, meeting with clients, and hosting open houses, some agents are finding a luxury rarely available to them: time.
If that sounds like you, you may want to use your precious extra time to focus on improving different aspects of your business that can help you make up for short-term losses, while setting up new workflows, scripts or systems that will generate value in the long term.
Here are a few ways to use your extra time now and reap the benefits later:
“One thing I learned after going through 2008 is Realtors are always looking for excuses and reasons why their production is lacking, it makes them feel better about failing. The 2008 recession was used for just that, as an excuse to be lazy and not show up! But these excuses created an opportunity for those agents that pressed on. The same thing is happening now, an opportunity is unfolding for any agent that is willing to dig in and get creative. Even if you are in an area that is 100% shutdown this is the time to focus on the infrastructure of your business. At minimum we have the ability to come out of the other side more educated with better systems to serve our clients. Regardless of what you may be hearing, know THE DUST WILL SETTLE and it's up to you to decide where you will be standing when that happens. Will you be ready to go or will you be trying to catch up to those who used their time wisely? Only you can decide.”
— Brandon Tyler, Team Leader, Progressive Properties
Even if you can’t physically go to an open house or inspection, people still need to buy homes to live in.
Luckily, with a little help from technology, the majority of the essential real estate operations can be done remotely and online from home.
Here are some of the services you can offer your clients even while working from home:
“We are completing virtual buyer meetings with our clients through Zoom. Not just a basic conversation but an actual presentation to let the buyer know about the process and also the current state of the market. We are then figuring out if they are really interested in proceeding and moving forward with a PQ with one of our lenders. From there, we start assisting the client on collecting all of the docs that the bank will require and send them lists of properties.“
— Alex Lopez, Founder and CEO, Homeway Realestate
No matter the market situation, there are always people who need to hear from you. But there’s a big chance you won’t be the first or even the second person calling your prospects.
If you really want to stay productive while working from home, it’s crucial to adjust your messaging and tone to make it easy to have daily conversations with the people in your database.
Here are some tips to think about when connecting with new leads:
“Literally the best time to double down on databases: organization, categorization, lead flow, action plan. Use the time to just reach out to your people, one by one, and just ask if they are ok. Please please don't ask if ‘they or anyone they know is looking to buy or sell’ right now, just check in.”
— Lee Adkins, a member of the Board of Directors at the Atlanta REALTORS Association and the Head of Growth at Amplified Solutions
Follow Up Boss makes it easy to log your daily actions for a complete picture of your work from home productivity.
Now more than ever, you need to stay organized.
Use your CRM to group and tag your contacts so that you always know who to contact when. Take notes on all your interactions so you can pick up where you left off and set automated drip campaigns for people with a longer buying or selling timeline.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your CRM when working from home:
“My advice to agents... your database is your BEST form of future business. We often feel embarrassed that we haven't maintained touch but you can choose to start today. Our rule is if you don't record it in Follow Up Boss, it hasn't happened! I keep notes about all communications (calls, notes and pop by's) and set calendar reminders to follow up with people (you know that person who you run into at the grocery store that says they are selling in the fall. I set a calendar reminder to follow up in August). If you are not diligent to input the information immediately, you may have lost a future paycheck. Most of all, stay in touch with relevant information if you want the referrals you have to earn them.”
— Cindy Greenya, the Team Leader for The Talbot Greenya Group of Keller Williams Realty.
Real estate has experienced its share of tech disruptions and the current work from home boom is no exception.
What we’ve learned from the Realtors and brokers in our community is that, no matter what the situation, there’s always a way to adapt. If you or your team need any help establishing productive work from home workflows, feel free to reach out to us at any time.