Over the last year, real estate companies have experienced significant shifts in many areas of their operations, not to mention the lives of their leaders and employees. One of the biggest changes has been the shift to remote work, which has deeply impacted company culture.
It’s not easy to cultivate a healthy culture, and doing so while remote presents new challenges. And with an estimated 26.7 percent of workers remaining fully remote into 2022 – more than double the percentage prior to Covid-19, according to an Upwork study – leaders and teams will have to settle into the new remote normal.
Revamping cultural strategies to fit a scenario with less office time is critical because it affects the lifeblood of real estate companies: its people. And because culture plays such an important role in attracting, hiring and retaining skilled employees and agents, leaders must carefully focus on the health of their group, while physically distanced. A company with a happy team earns that reputation and becomes a magnet for talent.
Creating a healthy remote workplace requires vision, commitment and action; it won’t happen by itself. There are five proven steps to accomplish a thriving remote culture. Each step builds on the one before it; they are:
- Establish core values
- Design a smart plan
- Empower teams
- Facilitate purpose
- Refine communication
Many of these steps help in promoting culture during in-person times, but here the details are even more important.
Establish core values
The first part to creating a healthy culture without the aid of physical proximity involves creating and using core values. One way to do this is to include employees and agents at all levels to help define and clarify the current company culture that then leads to either a refined set of written company values or a new set if the company had none before.
With a written set of core values, updated for the remote era, the organization can use them as a guide for decision-making, hiring, goal-setting and performance initiatives. Formalizing the core values in the company systems and processes helps employees at all levels embody the values.
Design a smart plan
Companies, of course, are used to planning, but coordinating in a remote environment takes special care on rollout, the decision-making process and communication flow. When looking to implement a company plan, leaders should bake in the core values it established in the first step.
As they disseminate this plan throughout the company, they should view it as a collaborative effort with employees, especially in remote work environments. Once the planning process is complete, employees, with their managers, break down tasks into monthly, weekly and daily activities that will fulfill on the objectives. This creates clarity and boosts positivity among teams.
When every person in the organization embraces the core values and has completed an effective remote planning process, then they are able to take ownership of their job and how it impacts overall success. Leaders and managers should clearly define the expectations of reports, with their participation, and empower them to fulfill their roles. This holds true for agents, too, even though that conversation and relationship does not fall into the managed bucket.
Each employee should feel ownership of their tasks and responsibilities. This means that they commit to achieving the plan and goals as outlined for each week, month and year, and maintain accountability with managers and colleagues on at least a weekly basis.
With a formalized set of core values, a smart plan, and empowered employees, the company as a whole has built a framework upon which team members can clearly see how they support the company’s end goals. This facilitates a strong sense of purpose.
When each person is committed and understands why they are doing what they are doing, their satisfaction and sense of accomplishment grows and builds company culture and successful goal attainment.
Finally, with all these pieces in place, companies need to be hypervigilant about maintaining productive communication. This involves carefully determining the structure by which the company communicates. Is it typically top-down, bottom-up or bi-directional? All work, but the structure needs to be clear for each team at the company.
Then teams need to practice clear, effective communication, which will lead to more coordinated action. In a company suffering from a lack of coordinated action, leaders and workers will notice delayed projects, subpar work and frustration.
One of the best ways to keep communication productive is to refine and coach teams on how to clearly work together. Establishing clear requests is one example. A request is a specific activity with a deadline. The requester makes a request and the person on the receiving end can either accept, decline or re-negotiate. Powerful requests with a deadline – and clear acknowledgment and participation from the other party – increases effective action.
These five steps to facilitating healthy remote work culture cannot only help companies survive with a higher percentage of their employees working remote, but can help them thrive. The investments companies make here will pay big dividends in more productive teams and in more attractive workplaces where people want to work.
As head of T3 Talent, I think of these remote challenges companies face often. If you’re looking to hire top-tier talent to support your new remote work environment or have a question about how to improve your company culture, reach out to me at Kelly@t3sixty.com.