Ira Zlotowitz is president of Eastern Union, a New York-based commercial mortgage brokerage that closes $5 billion in transactions yearly.
As everyone is aware, the pandemic has largely cleared out offices nationwide. As of late October 2020, for example, only 10% of Manhattan’s one million office workers were reporting to the office, according to a Partnership for New York City study.
But, at least in Manhattan, one sector leads the pack in bypassing remote work. When it comes to returning to their original desks, the Partnership reported that the real estate industry has stood out for bringing employees back to the office. Seventy-three percent of the sector’s employees were already back in the office by October 2020, the study found. Employers in the real estate field projected that 87% of their workforce would be back by July 2021.
The Partnership discovered that an overall 48% of Manhattan employees anticipated a return to their offices by July. That means that the share of real estate personnel who might expect to return to their offices was 39 percentage points higher than that of the overall workforce.
Once the pandemic struck with vigor in March 2020, I, along with my fellow company leaders, joined with other businesses to implement various coping measures. As leaders, we concluded that we’d be able to carry on, at least temporarily, using remote operations.
In relatively short order, however, it dawned on me and the executive team that these new practices didn’t have to function as mere stopgaps. There was a realization that operations could be maintained just as well as before by transforming these planned temporary measures into permanent practices.
There are three fundamental changes within the business operations of my company that have now been institutionalized — and have allowed us, essentially, to go totally virtual. They focus on communications and internal knowledge, with plenty of application in your own company.
Video Meetings In Place Of Conference Calls
First, make an effort to replace most conference calls with Zoom calls. Aside from allowing many of these calls to be used — in edited form — as pedagogic tools, the face-to-face contact afforded via Zoon allows your employees to maintain a human and intimate level of contact with one another, despite no longer sharing a physical presence in the office.
Recording Calls For Learning Opportunities
Second, consider recording every Zoom call that contains content from which people could learn. Meeting participants should be informed that these calls are being recorded and know how to access them post-meeting.
Utilizing A Video Editor
Third, consider hiring a video editor — freelance or as part of your staff — with the skills to turn these recorded Zoom calls into finished products. The editor trims away portions lacking teaching content. Once the material is properly sliced and diced to a finished form, the recording can be added to a growing video library as a rich and lasting training resource.
In my firm, to my and my team’s pleasant surprise, the adaptation to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 ended up improving our capacity to train new brokers. Triggered by pandemic conditions, an ample library of training resources was created that proved critical to the success of a newly launched 21-day virtual training program for new staff recruits called ABC21.
There’s an opportunity to create your own improvements by making similar changes in your own company.
The national tragedy of the coronavirus called upon business leaders of all stripes to be creative and flexible — and to explore new ways of doing things. It’s possible to succeed in devising fresh approaches to your work operations that also decrease costs by reducing office spending — all while boosting efficiency and improving your ability to train new recruits. In my company’s case, the adjustments we made produced not only a better workflow but a greater training opportunity for new brokers.
It makes you wonder: Why did anyone have to wait for a crisis to occur before thinking to institute these improvements? What other untapped improvements are waiting to be discovered without the need for a crisis to snap everyone to attention? These are the questions business executives should be constantly asking themselves as they work to improve the operations and in turn the success of their company.
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