Jeff Thompson is managing partner at Windermere Group One in Richland, Wash. The brokerage is a member of Windermere Real Estate, which is comprised of 300 offices and more than 6,000 agents throughout the western United States.
Why Real Estate Pros Need an Office Environment
Though technology enables agents to work entirely remotely, there may be solid benefits of coming into the office to collaborate with colleagues. These programs can entice them.
April 15, 2019
Thanks to various technological advancements, from CRM software to 3D home tours and paperless contracts, the world of real estate has been transformed. Modern technology has empowered agents to rethink not only how they work with clients but also where. Many can now conduct their business entirely in the field, rather than coming into an office.
This migration is happening across industries, with about half of American professionals working remotely in some capacity, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace Report. Such a shift has its benefits: Studies have long connected more flexible work environments with happier employees and better work-life balance. In fact, the same Gallup report confirmed that employees who work remotely three to four days a week have the highest engagement levels.
However, you can have too much of a good thing—even when it comes to flexible work. Those who work entirely remotely say they are less likely to be involved in workplace goal-setting, receive feedback from coworkers, or participate in performance reviews with managers, according to the Gallup report. In light of these findings, there’s something to be said for bringing agents back into the office occasionally.
Migrating Back to the Office
Gathering agents together in a positive environment helps foster a culture of collaboration, constant learning, and camaraderie. Of course, getting agents back into the office is easier said than done, especially if they’re used to working remotely full-time. But it’s not impossible. The idea is to make the office feel less like a ball and chain and more like a supportive hub. Here are a few weekly events every real estate office should host in order to get agents to come in.
- In-office sales meetings. This is just one way to get agents face-to-face. They can exchange information on new listings, receive updates on market changes, talk about new client opportunities, and collaborate on marketing plans. While you may not think a meeting is an exciting incentive, my brokerage, Windermere Group One, reports an 80 percent attendance record at weekly sales meetings because agents can brainstorm creative ideas, pick up overflow clients, and provide emotional support to each other during a sales slump.
- Training opportunities. You can think of training in terms of group sessions and one-on-one work—or, ideally, a combination of the two. At Windermere Group One, agents gather on Monday mornings to time-block their schedules and start their week with the right mindset. Wednesdays are for contract training, where agents are encouraged to understand every paragraph of the contract and be able to present it to clients in common terms. Thursdays are dedicated to either social media training or the habits of top-performing salespeople. Agent-to-agent mentorship is another option. Having more established agents sit down in person with new agents cultivates engagement on both sides of the equation. Established agents will feel like valued experts who are helping drive the company forward, and newer agents will feel supported as they acclimate to a new job or, potentially, a new industry.
- Cultural events. Despite what you might have heard, coming to work can be a fun experience. Real estate is a challenging business with very few days off, so when possible, it’s important to partake in celebratory company-sponsored culture events. This might include birthday celebrations or happy hours, but it should also include things like giving back to your community. Seventy-seven percent of workers believe that volunteering alongside their colleagues strengthens their work relationships, according to a 2017 study by United Healthcare.
Technology has made practicing real estate highly mobile. It allows agents to work from quite literally anywhere with an internet connection. But just because agents can exclusively work from home or coffee shops doesn’t mean they should. By delivering one or two valuable in-person experiences per week, you’ll remind your agents how a little face time can do a lot of good.