Tips and Tools For Managing a Remote Team for Your Real Estate Business
Remote work is pretty hot right now.
More than 50% of Canadian workers say they work outside the office at least two days each week. That means more than half of the entire workforce has some experience as a remote worker.
Us real estate agents are amongst the original remote workers; the job naturally requires agents to be away from the office, and often.
But what about the people that work for us? Like our social media mavens or virtual assistants? Should they be working out of the same office? Is it necessary?
If you, like the average REALTOR®, only have one to three people working for you and your business (we’re not talking about the staff at the brokerage you work with), then remote work makes sense.
You can reduce overhead and office costs, and boost productivity – all while improving the satisfaction and work-life balance of your employees.
It’s a win-win situation — IF you manage the team correctly.
In this post, we’ll explore the tricks, tips and tools that REALTORS® need to successfully manage a remote team for their real estate business.
Know Which Job Types Are Best Suited to Remote Work
Be realistic about which roles can be successfully fulfilled remotely, and which need to be based out of an office.
Marketing is well suited to remote work. An assistant who often needs access to paper files is not, but a virtual assistant – as the name implies – is.
Be Clear About Expectations
It’s important that you trust your remote employees to do their jobs effectively, wherever they’re working from, but setting ground rules and being clear about your expectations is essential to keeping the machine running as it should. Processes and guidelines help everyone stay on the same page.
Things to think about:
- Hours. Will everyone be starting and ending their day at the same time? Is there a window of time you expect everyone to be active during — say, between 10am and 3pm — but start times and end times can be decided individually?
- Communication. How will you and your team stay in touch? What level of responsiveness do you expect? Will you kick off each day with a conference call to ensure you’re all on the same page.
- Tools. What software and apps will everyone use to communicate and share files? (More on this below).
- Policies. The rules governing things like vacation time, personal days and lunch breaks are clearer when all employees work from the same office. For remote workers, you’ll need to define them yourself. How far in advance does an employee need to notify you of a planned absence? Should an employee notify the group when they’re signing off for an hour?
- Accountability. How will you ensure that everyone’s getting their work done, and in a timely manner? Perhaps employees start the week by sharing their weekly task list and end it by sharing what they accomplished.
- Perks. In an office setting, perks like wine on Fridays or a weekly catered lunch can help boost employee morale. How will you adapt that for remote employees? Group lunch once a month? Reduced hours on Friday afternoons in the summer?
Equip Your Employees
The tools your employees use become all the more important when they’re working from home; the right supplies help unify the team and keep it productive.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of great tools that keep everyone on the same page and able to perform their roles effectively. Here’s what we recommend:
Create, share, organize, collaborate on, store and download spreadsheets, forms, slideshows, text documents and more using Google Drive. For remote workers, it’s like the virtual version of a shared drive combined with Microsoft Office.
To use Google Drive for business, you have two options:
- You and your employees can each sign up for a Google account, using your business email address. Everyone can then create shared folders in Google Drive that the whole team will have access to.
- You can sign your team up for G Suite, which is Google and Google Drive for businesses. If you don’t need a lot of storage, you can sign up for US$5 per user, per month. For nearly limitless storage, the price increases to US$10 per user, per month. Either level gives employees access to shared calendars, a shared Drive and secure team messaging.
You and your employees will likely be signing in to many of the same websites. Instead of entrusting each employee to remember sensitive passwords, use LastPass, an online password vault, to share them.
For about US$2.50 per user, per month, you’ll be able to securely share and store login information, keep sensitive information confidential, and add or revoke employee access as necessary.
If we had to recommend just one tool for your remote team, Slack would be it.
Slack is the king of communication tools. The platform is like an instant messaging service, shared file server, online meeting spot, conversation archive and collaboration tool all rolled into one.
Slack gives you and your employees the ability to:
- Have real-time conversations
- Send files back and forth
- Revisit archived conversations
- Start audio or video calls
- Make to-do lists and workback schedules
- And much more, thanks to the thousands of apps that can be connected
Small teams can use Slack for free, though the free subscription comes with very little storage, archiving of a maximum of 10,000 messages, and only up to 10 app integrations.
For greater capability, go for the standard model, billed at US$6.67, per user, per month.
As every real estate agent can attest to, there’s a freaking ton of paperwork that needs to be signed and shared. It may seem like the one business activity that can’t be executed remotely, but fear not: there’s HelloSign.
This platform makes it simple to fill out all kinds of forms and add a legally binding digital signature. HelloSign also makes it easy (and elegant) to send forms and contracts between clients and staff, streamlining the process and keeping everyone organized.
For US$13/month, you can send unlimited documents per month but only from one sender. For up to five senders (plus five document templates, document branding, an in-person signing option, and more), you’ll need to pay US$40/month.
Do you have remote employees for your real estate business? What are your tips for making it work?