2020 has been unexpected in more ways than we can count. Many companies, for the first time ever, had to figure out how to run their businesses without direct contact with people, including their employees. While technology has lent itself to working remotely being a viable option for most-a lot of employers prefer to manage their business with their employees in the way they always have-in person. In the property management industry, managers, owners, and operators faced the obstacle of managing properties without being able to come into contact with their tenants.
With all past experience and present day learning at hand, many questions remain for the future.
How do you run a business when you can?t come within 6 feet of any one person?
How do you monitor your employees and the integrity of your business if you can?t come in contact with those who are running the business?
How does operational excellence come in to play when you go from one operation to many small operations run by your employees?
And, how do you grow your business while managing the outlying factors of a pandemic that has most of the population in a panic?
Constantly changing circumstances have changed the way businesses are managed. For example, the virtual office has become a more frequently visited option. Video platforms have become the new meeting rooms. Residences where families were home maybe 50% of the time were now being occupied 100% of the time. What implications does this have for your business and what options should you consider for managing properties in pandemic? Here are a few options to consider:
Managed virtual office
Pro: Creating your own virtual office with your employees has become increasingly realistic. There are several tools that can be used to stay in constant communication with your employees even up to monitoring their work in real time. This way, you keep the feel of your office, you are working within the new safety protocols of the current state, and you can run as normal as possible with the right tools in place.
Con: If you are used to working interactively with your employees, this can be a struggle to find the right methods of communication to keep your employees engaged and productive. Some micromanagement may be necessary upfront that wasn’t required before.
Outsourcing Administrative Tasks
Pro: Virtual assistants and similar services have become an attraction option to many property managers and real estate investors and professionals even prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This method decreases payroll and eliminates the need for additional space for personnel which also decreases risk of exposure. There are many companies that provide virtual assistants and virtual services that can assist with all things in your office such as data entry, accounting tasks, rent collection operations, and much more.
Con: Outsourcing your office tasks means that personal supervision is not an option. If your office processes are not clear or constantly changing, it may be hard to get a virtual office service to keep the same atmosphere or culture you have built with your brand.
Outsourcing Maintenance Technicians
Pro: As well as an overall decrease in payroll overhead, outsourcing maintenance to service providers reduces the responsibility and risk of monitoring one person going into the homes of many. You can determine whether the safety protocols put in place by the service providers you utilize work best for your business and your tenants.
Con: If you don?t already have a network of vendors in place to handle maintenance, then it may take time to find trustworthy and economical providers that know they are in high demand.
Outsourcing Maintenance Coordination
Pro: Maintenance can be one of the most expensive and time consuming areas of managing your properties. There is a lot of upfront work between the service provider and the tenants to complete work and get it done in a cost-effective way that meets tenant expectations. Outsourcing this task can save time and it can also save money if you find a provider that can manage this part of your business for you in a way where your costs are kept in mind and customer service to your tenants is still a high priority.
Con: There are many companies that offer maintenance coordination services. Just as it will take time to coordinate your own maintenance, you will want to take the time needed to identify a provider that works within your business in a way that your tenants don’t even feel that the service has been outsourced and feel like their needs have been taken care of the same way as if you had handled the request personally.
Overall, the pros of a managed or outsourced virtual office can outweigh the cons if you step outside of the comfort zone of a physical office and really scrutinize the cost and operations savings by doing so. As a virtual office company since our inception, Abodea has been able to assist many of our customers with solutions that they can use within their office to make the managed virtual office a symbiotic combination of outsourced services and managed processes. With maintenance coordination being the main service offering when the company was founded, we are able to work within your business as an extension of your business working with your policies and processes just as if we are part of your virtual office team.
If you still have questions on how to create and manage your integrated virtual office, please reach out to us for suggestions on how we can help.