The experts seem to agree that decentralised businesses are highly efficient. Nicholas Bloom, from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, says they are more recession-proof; and former Johnson and Johnson Chairman William Weldon states decentralised firms are more innovative. And here at Beepo, we know the cost efficiencies of not having to upgrade your own office space every time you hire new staff has massive cost savings.
If management wants to leverage the cost efficiencies and super-powered productivity of a multi-geographic team, they will need to know how to run one effectively and develop their knowledge across the following five key elements.
- PROCESS: DO YOU KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN YOUR REAL ESTATE OFFICE?
The obvious challenge with running remote teams is the lack of face-to-face contact. This impacts your ability as a manager to pass on knowledge through showing people how to do things and sitting next to them. There are, of course, ways around this.
Technology is at a level now where it needs to be your best friend.
Having properly documented processes is imperative to addressing this challenge. This should not be difficult, though; you can record them via video screen capture. Using video-based process documents or how-to’s is the quickest way to create standard procedures. Check out the Beepo blog (beepo.com.au/blog) for help on how to do this effectively.
2. TECHNOLOGY: WITHOUT IT THIS ISN’T GOING TO WORK
If you’re not all in the same office together, how do you communicate? Technology is at a level now where it needs to be your best friend. Running remote teams is easy when you have access to a stable and user-friendly web conferencing solution, headset and webcam.
We use Zoom for our web conferencing. Check them out at www.zoom.us. On Zoom you can have video conferences from your desk or smartphone, allowing you to pick up on those non-verbal cues you may miss on a phone call. You can even chat (instant message) or collaborate on documents in real time.
3. COMMUNICATION: EVEN MORE IMPORTANT WHEN WORKING WITH REMOTE TEAMS!
Working with remote teams requires you to work to a structured management framework. It doesn’t really matter what that is, but you need to make sure you meet with your team members regularly, have a way of recording and monitoring what tasks everyone is doing, and have a way for everyone to be easily contactable. Work in progress documents, instant messaging and regular 15 to 30-minute catch-ups are what we do.
When it comes to communication, transparency is key. Simple things like allowing everyone to see each other’s calendars helps the team understand where you are and what your key appointments or meetings are each day.
4. INTEGRATION: JUST BECAUSE THE TEAM IS REMOTE DOESN’T MEAN IT AIN’T A TEAM!
Have fun with your team! Our team spans the Philippines, Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales, which makes morning coffee catch-ups difficult. But we do make an effort to catch up quarterly for our planning workshops. We also have fun over web conferencing and are not shy about picking up the phone if we need to speak to each other. Weekly team meetings are easy to run online and are a great way to get the whole team across priorities and challenges.
Weekly team meetings are easy to run online and are a great way to get the whole team across priorities and challenges.
When we bring a new person into the team, we schedule web conferences with key players in the business. They explore not just their professional background and existing responsibilities, but also take time to get to know the person and a little about their life outside work. This is a great way to break the ice quickly and ensure the new hires know who’s who in the zoo.
5. PEOPLE: HAVE YOU GOT PEOPLE ON BOARD WHO CAN WORK REMOTELY?
Running a team across multiple geographies is not going to work if you don’t have the right people. You need to hire people who are not shy to use and try out new technology, are flexible in the use of their time, especially when working across different time zones, and also relatively autonomous.
We’ve worked with hundreds of businesses and in many cases it is the people piece that is the most difficult to tackle, so implementing a strong change management plan is imperative to your success. When recruiting, look for a history of autonomous work and an output focus. Those who are self-motivated will thrive in a remote working environment.
Our cities are growing at astronomical rates. In fact, urban planning and infrastructure is struggling to keep up with the growth, and affordable housing is being relegated to the outskirts of our CBDs. There will become a point in the next five to 10 years when the morning commute will no longer be a worthy trade-off for a well-paying job.
If you want talented, highly-motivated people in your real estate business, you need to create a workplace that provides them with the flexibility they need to live a fruitful life – both inside and outside work.