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April 15th, 2020 at 11:00 am

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Along with the many other things happening in our day-to-day lives, transitioning to working from home (WFH) is just one more challenge to tackle. Now, instead of sitting in our (mostly) distraction-free office, most of us are at home and surrounded by unfinished chores, family members or roommates. We’ve all been put in a new, somewhat temporary work environment. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, know that you’re not alone. 

We decided to chat with three of our in-house experts to see what advice they have for working at home. On a company-wide webinar, we invited all our agents and staff to learn from the best when it comes to navigating a real estate career and working from home. And, though many of their tips are intended to help improve agent-client relations, we think some of these tips pertain to professionals and students who have also recently transitioned to a WFH lifestyle.

Meet our panelists

Morgan King, La Jolla real estate agent

Although new to the real estate industry, Morgan is certainly not new to working from home. As our La Jolla office’s most recent recipient of the Rookie of the Year Award, Morgan has years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies under her belt and, yes, that includes years of working from home. At home, she focuses on staying positive and bringing value to yourself and others through every interaction.

John Closson, Regional VP and Branch Manager

Though new to working from home, John is definitely not new to real estate. He has faced this new challenge by focusing on the basics, like completing a short list of daily tasks that collectively increase productivity and business opportunities.

Nick Cacarnakis, Branch Manager

Also new to working from home, Nick has found that setting boundaries for yourself and the people in your home is important, along with creating a space that you can comfortably work in.

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Start the day off on the right foot

A great day of WFH begins with how you start the day. For Nick, that means joining an early video or phone call meeting every day. It keeps him accountable and ensures that he’s up, dressed, and ready to take on the day by 8 a.m. every morning, Monday through Friday.

Aside from creating morning routines and meetings to set yourself up for success, all three of our panelists keep a list of their tasks that they update first thing each morning. Whether your to-do’s are scribbled on a notepad, kept in your phone, or you use an online service like Trello to keep track of your work, it’s important to start the day with fresh eyes on your list. Morgan always picks out two to three tasks that she knows she needs to get done each day and prioritizes them between calls and emails.

If you can check off your three priorities of the day, you will feel so much more accomplished when 5:00 pm comes around.

Create a space that works for you

Rather than just grabbing your laptop and working at the kitchen table, on the couch, or even in your bed, it’s important to create an office space.

Nick suggests creating a space that’s dedicated to solely to work, even if it’s just a corner in your living room or a spare bedroom, so you can step away as soon as the work day is over.

Morgan likes to take it a step further, and surrounds herself with beautiful decor like flowers, photos, candles, and crystals. If you like the space you work in, you’ll feel more positive throughout the day.

For John, finding a space that is quiet and peaceful is half the battle. As a manager and a real estate agent, he has to focus on creating a digital experience for his agents and clients. You may be working from home, but the work is getting done virtually and that experience is just as important for you as it is for whom you’re working with. Set yourself up for success by using the right technologies and communicating in an effective way.  John does it from that quiet space he’s found.

Stay positive

Morgan tries to consume as much positive news as possible. She finds that this encourages positive thoughts and conversations with her clients, colleagues, and loved ones.

“Social contact gives you energy, life. Connect with people that bring you up, value your opinions, or make you laugh.”

Morgan King

If you’re providing value in every conversation, whether it’s work-related or just brightening someone’s day, it’s easier to be successful together.

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Set boundaries with your kids

As a father of two, Nick knows that working from home while your kids are there is not always ideal. Some days, it might seem nearly impossible. He encourages parents to set boundaries, both for yourself and for your kids.

If you’re on the phone or video call, make sure your kids know they need to keep their voices down or play in the next room. If the door to your office is closed, they should quietly knock or send you a text message before walking in.

Parenting in close quarters is a challenge for everyone involved, but sitting down and setting boundaries is the first step to increasing your productivity and protecting your sanity. Go through a set of rules and scenarios to help them understand why you need peace and quiet or alone time to help them understand and actively be a part of the solution.

Morgan also suggests going back to those two or three tasks you outlined for the day. Tackle your tasks one at a time and focus your energy on what’s most important until you check them all off your list.

For busy moms and dads, we know it can feel like a miracle to accomplish anything at all some days. Don’t forget to cut yourself some slack and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. You can also check out our tips for keeping kids entertained and educated at home.

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Maintain relationships virtually

Whether it’s with your colleagues, friends, or family, it’s important to stay connected.

Nick suggests finding a friend or colleague with whom you can have regular calls and video chats with weekly, or even daily, in order to hold each other accountable. Even if your friend works in a completely different industry, you can still talk about your goals, successes, and challenges together, while encouraging each other to keep up the good work.

Morgan has weekly happy hours on Zoom, where she and a group of friends jump on for 30 minutes to an hour of chatting, catching up, and even enjoying a glass of wine. “We do themed calls, which may seem silly, but it makes us all laugh and forget for a few minutes about what is going on in the rest of the world,” she says.

For John, real estate is a relationship business, and that hasn’t changed regardless of where and how we are doing business. Sending an old photo to a client he hadn’t spoken with in a while led to a longer conversation, enabling him to re-establish an important connection. He suggests reaching out to someone every day, whether via text message, phone call, comment on Instagram, or even a hand-written note. You never know what kinds of conversations will happen!

Don’t judge yourself

Rather than just results, focus on consistency and completing the tasks you set out to do. No matter your goal, whether you’re doing the same tasks you did in the office but now at home, completely readjusting your workflow, or even looking for a new project, stick to a basic set of goals each day. Even if no business opportunities result from your efforts today, you still put in the time and work which is something to be proud of. And, it sets the foundation for tomorrow, which is a brand new day.

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Schedule out your time

This may seem counter-intuitive, but scheduling out your time, even your social interactions and down time, actually creates more productivity. Morgan likes to schedule out her work in 45 minute blocks, then step away for 10-15 minutes to recharge her mind. In that down time, you can also do something productive, like washing a few dishes or getting the mail, or just take a minute to breathe, eat a healthy snack, or check in with a loved one.

In real estate, John acknowledges that there is very little structure in an agent’s day-to-day life, because each day is different. Now is the time to create structure and normalcy, because you can only benefit from it in the long term.

Use new or existing technologies

For Nick, he’s using this time to re-learn or find new technology that helps him WFH. What have you been wanting to learn or begin using? What training resources are currently offered through your work or for free online? If you don’t know where to start, check with your boss, manager, or colleagues to see if they can swap ideas on tools they regularly use, how to brush up on your skills, or learn something new.

Go easy on yourself (and everyone else!)

It’s important to have empathy for the people in your lives who may be facing unexpected hardships. The same goes for yourself. While it’s important to continue to challenge yourself where you can, don’t forget to reward yourself for completed tasks and take some time to relax using our tips to reduce stress at home. And forgive yourself! It’s a challenging time.

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