COVID-19: Working from home when you're a property manager

Over the past week there has been widespread changes to business systems to facilitate employees working from home. The speed with which this is being implemented is staggering and in some cases I think there will be some problems.

I’ve been working from home for a decade in a number of roles and it’s not as simple as you would assume. Depending on the culture of the company it can be great or it can be a disaster. I’ve experienced it in both scenarios. A fantastic company with an amazing remote working culture is Timely. I was there for three years working almost entirely from home. I have read up and researched remote working for years now. There are always lots of questions about remote working below are some answers I’ve learnt over the years:

How do you make sure employees are working?

Firstly, if they are good employees they will do the work. Employees are MORE productive working remotely than when they work in the office.Here’s a great article about remote working and productivity: https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/new-study-reveals-why-working-from-home-makes-workers-more-productive.html

How do I manage my team?

Technology and routine is the answer. When I managed a group of BDMs in three timezones working in a fully remote company with 50 staff this was the system we used.

1. 15five.com – a great tool to measure weekly staff engagement and manage company strategy through OKRs.

2. Trello.com – a generic tool for tasks. Manage projects, create to-do lists, assign jobs. You can do everything and anything on this.

3. Whereby.com – when Skype and Zoom were rubbish this was our goto video conferencing tool

4. Slack.com – Facebook messenger on steroids for enterprises. It’s free and amazing. I used to be on this 12+ hours a day, 7 days a week.

The routine

A. 6 monthly – physical get together as a team.

B. Quarterly OKRs recorded in 15five.

C. Weekly
– One-on-one video calls. 30 minutes video calls with manager and employee. Often going over to do lists in Trello or something that has come up in 15five survey.
– The 15five survey completed.
– a day in the office (we had an optional office)

D. Daily ‘stand-up’ on video conference. It was 10 minutes long meeting and we answered three questions each:

What did we do yesterday?
What are we doing today?
What obstacles are stopping us from achieving these goals?

What else should I know?

Over-communicate – write, write and write

Speak in person regularly – written stuff can be misconstrued. In-person is best, video is 2nd, the phone is third.

Establish a routine – work out what times are best for you.

Figure out your working style – early in the morning with time off during the day to pick up kids

Work-life balance – working all the time is easy to do but health and family are important too.

Embrace the perks – surf during the day, pick up kids, do the laundry.

Other great tools I couldn't live without:

Evernote – my every to-do list, notes, links for the past decade
Toggl – This is a great free tool for tracking time. I use this actively with my property management and digital marketing businesses

Originally published 2020/03/21 at 10:26 am, updated 19/03/2021

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Rueben Skipper

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rueben skipper

About the author

Rueben is an entrepreneur with 20 years of business experience in a number of sectors. In the past decade, Rueben has worked a handful of technology startups (e.g. Timely) in the area of digital sales and marketing. In addition, he has run a social media marketing agency since 2013. He currently owns a property management company based in Dunedin.

You can check out more about his background and follow his VLOG on his Linkedin profile.

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