For the last few years, working from home has been a growing movement. More and more employees are finding ways to work remotely when circumstances warrant.
For many of us, though, it’s far from the status quo. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 30 percent of the U.S. workforce is able to work from home if necessary.
I can only imagine how those numbers are changing in the face of current events. In the last week, dozens of companies—including Amazon, Google and Apple—have asked employees who previously were required to come into the office to stay home until further notice. These effects are rippling through real estate, too. Brokerages across North America are canceling open houses left and right, with some even shuttering their doors and asking agents to work remotely.
Although real estate agents are well-known for their mobility, this is a different story altogether. Often, agents are so focused on this being a “people industry” that when we find ourselves in situations like the one we’re in currently, it can be hard to move from being in the office and meeting with clients to self-isolating at home and doing everything online.
In extenuating circumstances, a change in work style is necessary.
It occurred to me that this isn’t the first time our society has experienced outside factors that force us to find a new way to carry on, and it likely won’t be the last time, either. In the 1910s and the 1940s, circumstances—in those cases, international wars—created a need for women to start working in factories, producing supplies for their homes and for the men who were away on the front lines. At the time, this was unheard of, and I would not be at all surprised if it caused the same feelings of uncertainty and unrest that so many of us feel right now.
In the end, though, that change led to a revolution in the workforce that changed the status quo, and has long since become our new normal.
Similarly, this change will affect how we work afterward.
Today, so many of us are used to dealing in-person. In real estate especially, there’s always at least one step of a transaction that requires you to be face-to-face with someone: meeting a client for the first time, showing them a home, signing contracts, collecting and submitting trust/escrow. Even if you work with your clients remotely, you still have to go to the office to submit everything.
I believe this change toward self-isolation may help us all learn a more flexible way to work—and I believe that will be founded on technology. It will help us identify the technology, resources and tools at our disposal to make working remotely as easy as going to the office. Ultimately, it will change how we use technology for what we do every day long after the current uncertainty is over.
I say this to remind you that with all the change, although we may never go back to normal, there will be a new normal for us to grow into.
Sarah Sabatino is the partner marketing manager at Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies. For more information, please visit www.lwolf.com.