Communication Tips for Leading a Remote Team
The shift to telecommuting has been gaining in popularity for years, but with recent COVID-19 precautions being taken, a vast influx of professionals have found themselves working from home. This is proving to be an especially challenging change for real estate managers. By the very definition of your role, the ideal set-up is for you to be on-site managing said real estate. So how can you ensure effective and productive management in a remote setting?
When you can’t lean on face-to-face interaction in business, communication becomes a whole new ballgame. Several studies show 93% of communication is non-verbal (body language and tone of voice) so when all you have is written communication, that leaves a large space for misunderstandings. This is why it’s very important to over-communicate when working remotely. This may result in a few long winded emails or some repetitive phone conversations, but it’s necessary in order to make sure everyone is on the same page. You will see better results from your team and yourself if you can make this shift in thinking about communication.
Now let’s peel back the layers of that communication element a bit. On a normal day, before this new social-distancing-reality, your team members could regularly connect on a professional and social level. That social level is key as it creates very strong bonds and group mentality. Maintaining that in a virtual office scenario is doable, but takes some creativity. Is there a way to make sure that you’re continuing to have more social bonding in your group? Perhaps you can arrange for a virtual coffee meet-up once a week or virtual “water-cooler” chats with your team at a designated time each day, like this Forbes article suggests. Whatever the answer is, it’s highly important to maintain this element of connectivity in your team to maximize your communal productivity.
And on that subject, let’s talk about tools. We all know about the basic needs of a computer/laptop set-up, a work phone or line, and perhaps speaker and/or a computer camera. But what other digital tools does your team need access to for maximum productivity. Is there a group chat service you can use to make internal communication quick? Is there a phone or video conferencing service that can support your team? Be sure to think about what’s most compatible with Apple vs Window. And what about scheduling tools? With a remote work environment naturally being less structured, scheduling apps can ensure each person is optimizing their time and staying task-oriented.
The biggest worry most companies have when going virtual is productivity, and that’s completely understandable. It’s a big unknown for many, and to be thrust into it amongst a global crisis is hardly ideal. But it can work. The above tips are just a few ways to think about how to optimize productivity with a remote team, but there are many great resources online about going virtual, like this great article from Harvard Business Review. Currently, there are many successful businesses being run 100% remotely, so we know the model can work, even in property management. The key is taking the time to work through the changes with your team and being willing to adapt to new ways of getting the job done.
About the Author: Lindsay Konlande currently serves as the Association Assistant for IREM Houston. Lindsay earned her Bachelor Degree in Communication from Texas A&M and has several years of experience in marketing, public relations and copywriting.