For many property managers, working from home on a regular basis is now the new normal. This means rethinking how things are usually done and making changes in response to the challenges brought by COVID-19. So, what can property managers do to stay on track with their work during this time of isolation and social distancing? Here are a few practical tips to follow:
Improving your work from home experience
When you work from home, the boundary between your work and your personal life is often blurred. That’s why it helps to maintain the same routine you had when you worked from the office, like waking up at a set time, getting dressed, scheduling meetings and finishing work on time. While it may be easy for you to keep answering work emails in bed at 10 pm, this is also a sure path to burnout.
Experienced remote workers have found that setting clear boundaries between work and life is key to being more productive and having better mental and physical health. To do this you need to take regular breaks, set a time frame to complete tasks and unplug at the end of the workday.
Making room for a dedicated workspace is also effective for keeping that work-life balance. Keep this area free from distractions and noise – ideally, it’s somewhere far from the living room and kitchen, where you can work uninterrupted.
Using the right technologies
Because remote work functions almost entirely in the digital space, now is the time to embrace the idea of going paperless. Anything you’re used to doing on paper can be converted into a digital version. For you to work efficiently, your files, programs and systems need to be easily accessible online i.e. “in the cloud”.
By using cloud-based applications to manage your day to day tasks you can enjoy a smooth transition from office to home. There will be no need to manually transfer files or set up servers. Cloud-based applications provide a single source of truth. The most updated version of your data can be accessed whenever and wherever from any device.
But it’s likely that some of the applications you use are saved on your office PC and not accessible online. In this case, the best solution would be to use a remote desktop program, like Windows Virtual Desktop. This kind of program allows you to remotely access desktop applications as well as any other documents that are saved locally on your office PC from your home office device.
Video conferencing technology is another essential tool that can help support connectedness while you work from home. By using video conferencing apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, you can simulate the face-to-face interaction of in-office meetings and encourage active listening and participation from attendees. These video-conferencing apps also offer screen sharing feature for presentations and recording features to help you document what’s discussed during the meeting.
Conducting routine inspections and house tours
With the current health risks of doing routine inspections the usual way, the team at Inspection Manager has worked hard to create an adaptive solution for routine inspections during COVID-19. We have recently released a new feature: Tenant Assisted Inspections, that allows Inspection Manager users to complete routine inspections by enlisting the help of tenants. By using Tenant Assisted Inspections, you can remain proactive in taking care of your landlord’s valued investments while limiting exposure to the virus. Learn more about Tenant Assisted Inspections here.
When it comes to conducting house tours while staying safe from COVID-19, technology is once again your best friend. Virtual house tours are no longer a novel concept for property managers. If it is something your agency only does occasionally – consider it a new norm during these unprecedented times. Facebook Live is a great tool for conducting virtual tours in real-time. You can also use an HD camera instead of a smartphone to give your audience a much better resolution and achieve a more professional look. Another great alternative is to upload recorded tours to YouTube and share the video link to your social media channels to attract more views and generate more leads.
Managing rent and other tenant payments
To avoid exposure to COVID-19, tenants are likely to prefer making payments digitally instead of doing it in person. To make things easier, your agency can set up a direct debit facility that enables you to transfer funds from an enrolled tenant’s bank account to your trust account, whether that’s payment for rent or other invoices. In addition, you can also download files of these direct debit transactions from the bank to help you automate the receipt and reconciliation process.
Since many tenants are facing job losses or reduced income as a result of the pandemic, you may need to offer more flexibility around rent arrangements or application for rent-free periods. Ensure that these are in-line with government advice and requests from landlords. And be prepared by creating a clear process to administer these changes as efficiently as possible.
Communicating with your clients and your team
Despite the current limitations on in-person interaction, you can still use digital forms of communication as an effective alternative. Use SMS and email to promptly send important messages to tenants, landlords and other people you work with.
Most property management software also offers automation services to streamline your communications, so you can send the right message to the right people at the right time using just one integrated platform. You can bulk send emails and SMS messages as well as add notes on attached documents such as owner statements, using mail merge.
Keep in mind that digital communications also depend on factors such as internet connection quality and a person’s availability to receive them. Ensure that your intended recipients are aware of the changes in your communication methods.
Working from home during a crisis can be overwhelming at first but knowing and applying these best practices can keep you productive and your business running smoothly despite the current challenges. Have you got any tips that will help your fellow property managers who are also working from home? Share them on our Facebook page!