No matter how your agency pivoted during lockdown, the reality is that remote work has become the new normal.
Some companies, like Twitter and Square, are allowing staff to work from anywhere – all the time – wherever they feel most creative and productive. Others are offering a 50/50 split, or another mix.
Whichever direction you’ve decided to go, remote work brings with it a unique set of challenges which, if not appropriately considered and planned for, could derail your agency.
I’m not just talking about the five minutes wasted at the start of a meeting – waiting for everyone to log into Zoom and check everything’s in order (“Can you hear me? Can you see my screen?”) – I’m talking about the roadblocks. The dips in motivation, the inability to properly coach staff… the big things.
As a company, we’ve been observing our Rexlabs customers over the last few months.
It seems to me that the businesses that have adapted best to COVID and the challenges of remote work are doing four things very effectively:
In the real world, leaders spend a lot of time training their team. But, when people are remote, there’s less opportunity for coaching.
The most successful agencies are the ones whose business owners are able to communicate, with a great deal of clarity, what they want their people to be doing – and how they should be doing it.
Our most successful clients have been very clear in setting expectations about how particular types of customers are expected to be treated, what processes need to be followed and in what sequence.
This is not just in terms of the boxes to be ticked, but also in terms of communication with customers. These things are difficult to correct if you don’t have a really clearly communicated set of expectations.
We built tracks and templates into Rex for this reason. Our customers can define sequences and pre-written templates with the right tone, the right language and the right unique selling proposition that their staff can use to communicate by email, by SMS, by letters with their own customers.
One of the things that makes a great culture is celebrating wins. High performing teams give each other five times as much positive feedback as they do constructive feedback.
How are you celebrating your wins? Where does a salesperson go to write up the listings they’ve won, or the off-market sales they’ve put together?
For Rex customers, all of this is surfaced in the main dashboard stream so staff can stay informed and give each other a virtual backslap, or a high five.
We also use Rex internally, to record our sales and customer feedback for our customer care and product teams. Rex’s integration with Zapier posts that note into Slack.
So, we use Slack for communication and Rex for customer management – and Zapier is the bridge. What’s the bridge between your tools that allows your team to communicate and translate issues?
Real estate is all about consistency.
To be successful, you need to be consistently sending market updates, consistently looping your vendors in about open home attendance numbers and feedback, and consistently upskilling. But this need for consistency also extends to the standards you set for your people.
Great people want to meet high standards. To get the best from your team, you need to be consistent about what you expect – and then measure progress.
Real time measurement helps your people stay motivated and on track, consistently. Plus, it lets business owners and managers understand whether or not conditions are changing in the background.
The best teams make sure their tools and processes can carry. Are you thinking about how your tools carry into the different dimensions – when people are working from a cafe, or their couch, on the laptop, at their dining room table?
This is a concept that we use in product design all the time. We think: this is the beautiful path we designed… and this is the path that people will actually follow.
Ask yourself, are the tools and procedures you’re using simple enough for people to follow? Are they giving staff the fastest (and easiest) path to get where they’re going?
For our customers, Rex has a companion mobile app called Pocket which does everything a sales agent might need to do on the go.
As you’d probably expect, usage skyrocketed as we went into lockdown – and because it works in the same way as Rex, our customers had no teething issues. They were able to pick up exactly as they had left off in the office.
The point is, you don’t need to know where your people are, or what they’re doing – but you do need to know that wherever they are, they’re able to do what they need to.
Are you prepared for the new normal?
Can you provide clarity?
Are you celebrating wins and do you have ways to communicate what’s important?
Are you setting clear expectations and ensuring consistency?
Can you and your teams carry your tools to where you work?
At this moment in time, you have a profound opportunity to empower your people. To embrace this change. It’s extraordinary, really.
Take up the challenge, and use remote work to your benefit.