There are tangible measures businesses could implement to replicate the sense of community that an office offers for employees working from home, an industry expert has suggested.
According to director of Coronis Franchising Jodie Stainton, businesses (including those in the real estate sector) have successfully facilitated working from home arrangements for their employees but have not managed to transfer the work experience of an office into the homes of employees working remotely.
“It’s really easy to do a morning tea or something like that in the office, which allows employees to spend time together, but it’s a lot harder to include everyone when they’re all working remotely,” she told REB.
Noting that around 30 per cent of property managers resigned out of the industry in 2020, Ms Stainton said it is a significant concern to lose that talent.
“Therefore, the next step that we need to make sure we’re doing is being able to transfer that work experience to the home,” she said.
A recent survey from financial services firm Findex revealed that one in four small businesses is already witnessing higher than usual turnover ahead of the much-discussed “Great Resignation”.
The survey of 500 small-to-medium enterprises (SME) revealed that more than one in two small businesses (53 per cent) were concerned about their ability to retain staff over the next 12 months, while 33 per cent reported a notable drop in employee satisfaction in just 12 months.
According to Findex, this drop in satisfaction could be stemming from an employer/employee disconnect. Half of the businesses have not consulted with their teams on their preferred working-from-home model and have no intentions of doing so.
Ms Stainton suggested that businesses could build communities within their systems to ensure that employees can communicate and “buddy” with each other.
“A lot of employees learn on-the-job through osmosis and pick up on what’s happening in offices,” she said.
“All of a sudden, that goes away. So, it’s about making sure that you’ve got an online structured learning program for employees, and you’re arranging one-on-one catch-ups with your staff.”
In addition, maintaining a culture of rewarding and recognising employee achievements is key to engaging staff even though they are not in the office, she added.
To increase efficiencies in their businesses, real estate agencies operating remotely could implement integrated systems that “talk to each other” to avoid double handling of data, Ms Stainton said.
She also encouraged agencies to implement a CRM system that is mobile-friendly, which would allow clients to ring them from their phones, and integrate calendars on their websites to allow clients to book appointments online.
Moreover, segmenting clients and optimising marketing strategies that deliver targeted information to them would allow agents to develop loyalty programs to support those clients, she said.
“I think that level of sophistication is really needed these days,” Ms Stainton said.
Find out more from Jodie Stainton on the tools and strategies required to run a remote agency while being more accessible at REB ReInnovate. Click here to secure your spot.