A work-from-home property manager in your company may require support to get everything they can from the opportunities remote operations can offer. Though working from home has been a change for many, businesses in many sectors have woken up to the possibilities that working with remote employees can provide. Property management is no exception to this.
Despite offering different opportunities, remote work requires adaptation on the part of the employee but also from the employer. Knowing how to support your existing or prospective WFH property managers will streamline your operations, promote employee satisfaction, and help you provide the best possible service to your clients.
How to Make “Work From Home” Work in Property Management
If you own a property management company, your business may have undergone several changes in the last few years. Embracing change can be challenging, but offers new opportunities. For companies in the property business, this can mean analyzing your processes, pinpointing areas for improvement, correcting inefficiencies, and supporting some or all of your employees to work from home.
WFH Research reports that 40% of US employees now work remotely at least one day a week. This means that providing solutions for office and WFH employees is a reality for many businesses in the US. With this in mind, it’s important to adapt to workers being in the office all, some, or none of the time. Luckily, there are many ways to cater to all your workers no matter where they are.
Set Out a Clear Company Plan
Post-COVID, property managers may be working from home for different reasons. Factors such as whether or not your company has a physical office and the reasons for employees wanting to work remotely will affect your policies.
- Health and Safety. Clear policies should be set that establish expectations for employees if or when they go to the office and for meeting property owners and tenants.
- Reassure Clients. A shift towards working from home may mean some changes for your clients. The priority should be to reassure clients that business will continue as usual. Ensuring smooth communication with their property manager and maintaining or even improving the completion of daily tasks will show your clients that remote operations won’t impact their properties negatively.
- Transparency and Communication. Being in charge of remote employees makes communication more important than ever. Clear communication channels should be established, allowing fluid and swift communication between employer(s), property managers, tenants, and property owners.
Stay Connected With Software
Maintaining property managers’, owners’, and tenants’ relationships is one of the most important aspects of running a successful property management business. Having dynamic software solutions that keep everybody up to speed is essential for businesses that manage a large number of properties.
Software that can help with the management of all aspects of your business can include:
- Rental data apps. Your work-from-home property managers need to have full access to the same short-term rental data as your in-office property managers. For example, both office-based and remote employees would need login details for data apps like AirDNA.
- CRM software to maintain contact with tenants. Tenants may have pressing concerns that need to be addressed swiftly whether your property managers are in the office or working from home. CRM software that organizes your tenant contact information and provides a quick and easy way to update these details via email or messaging is essential.
- Online Payments. Property owners rely on receiving rent payments on time. The easiest way to ensure this is to provide convenient tenant solutions. Several platforms exist to facilitate online payments. Your company may benefit from providing more than one payment solution for your tenants as payment technology and trends evolve.
- Client Screening. Screening potential clients is now easier than ever with the right technology. Online screening services provide work-from-home property managers with the ability to run background and credit checks and generate a rental history report for each future client. Property managers should be encouraged to follow up on any red flags and get in touch with their references to avoid problems further down the line.
Use Technology Wherever Possible
Property owner and tenant services aren’t the only aspects of property management that can be streamlined with technology. Software can also help you manage the following aspects of your property management business:
- Accounting. Many companies offer accounting software to help you automate payroll, track hours and overtime, track customer information, and many other services that may help you simplify and update your accounting system.
- Tours. 3D walkthrough tours can be created to save multiple trips to the same property or to cater to people who can’t make a tour in person. This can be particularly appealing for property management companies that deal with out-of-state and foreign tenants.
- Inspections and Maintenance Tracking. Because inspections or maintenance may be carried out by different people on different days, it’s important to have one central system that can be accessed remotely.
Some platforms handle many if not all of these aspects in one place. Property management software may benefit some businesses as long as remote employees are fully trained on how to use the system and have the same level of access as in-office employees.
Encourage Working-From-Home Best Practices
As an employer, it’s vital to maintain a clear set of norms and expectations when working with remote employees. Using the available technology and setting clear standards means that you can maintain the same level of dedication from remote property managers as in-office employees, if not more.
Encourage your remote workers to follow these and any other norms you feel are appropriate for your company:
- Stay Connected. With so many tools to facilitate instant messaging and video calls, there’s no excuse for not keeping in touch. Your business can establish daily or weekly scheduled meetings and keep a constant stream of communication open by using Google Chat or another instant messaging service. Though this way of communicating with your team can take some getting used to if you’re more accustomed to an office environment, it is very doable and—for many businesses—is already the norm.
- Be Flexible. Working from home allows property managers more freedom and flexibility than working in an office. However, property management doesn’t always mean working 9-5. Though your remote employees can handle many tasks within their office hours, they must be flexible to handle extraordinary circumstances if and when they arise.
- Maintain Balance. Many offices report an increase in productivity when employees work from home. While managing properties can be unpredictable, workers must also be allowed to maintain a good work/life balance.
Tips for Maintaining Productivity and Balance
When hiring WFH employees, discuss how they can optimize their work time and maintain an appropriate separation between their work and home responsibilities. The following are some suggestions to mention or include in your employee handbook:
- Keep Your “Office” Hours. One of the benefits of working from home is flexibility. However, managing a business is easier if you know when your employees work. Keeping office hours as much as possible works for both parties, as employees can also clearly state when they are and aren’t available to be contacted.
- Create a Dedicated Workspace. This isn’t possible in every home, but creating a dedicated space for work can help with productivity.
- Eliminate or Minimize Distractions. Similar to the previous point, encourage employees to set up a space similar to how it would be in an office. Everybody is different, but watching TV at the same time as working probably isn’t the most productive setup.
- Establish a Break Area. Offices usually have a break room or social areas for eating, chatting, and resting. An employee’s home office should be no different.
- Control Non-Emergency Communication After Hours. This shouldn’t be a frequent problem for companies and employees that establish clear office hours. However, micro-managing your remote employees will only sow discontent. Respect must be mutual. Therefore, keep after-hours communication to a minimum and send emails rather than instant messages unless there’s a legitimate emergency.
- Shut Off Your Computer to End Your Day. This tip applies to employers and employees alike. Employers also need downtime and shouldn’t be expected to reply to calls or emails after hours. Logging off from your work phone or computer is a good way to separate work from leisure.
Important note about social media: The benefits and drawbacks of using social media and specifically WhatsApp for work were investigated in 2022. The study results suggested that while there may be some benefits to using WhatsApp at work, it tends to create information, communication, and social overload, leading to technostress. Employees who use social media for work also experience challenges separating work and home as they receive work-related messages outside of work hours.
As with all technology, the viability of using WhatsApp to communicate with colleagues and clients should be considered carefully. It is usually preferable to use a dedicated platform for work-related communications.
Adapt and Reap the Benefits
Businesses that were traditionally run from an office are facing new choices and challenges, but also new opportunities. Offering new or existing property managers the chance to work from home is an appealing perk that can keep your employees satisfied and productive.
By implementing the necessary changes, remote property managers can contribute greatly to the success and smooth running of your business. Adopting the right technology and establishing clear expectations for WFH property managers can help your business reap the benefits of this new reality going forward.