Your No-Nonsense Guide to Working from Home

September 30, 2020

While working remotely has become almost ubiquitous in some industries, it’s still building traction in property management. Unless you count fielding calls from tenants, owners, and colleagues on your mobile, that is.

But in an increasingly connected world of cloud-based software and integrated smartphone apps, many agencies are embracing a more flexible way of working.

Here are our top tips to successfully navigating your work life when you’re out of the office.

Keep track of tasks

There’s a perception that working from home is synonymous with slacking off. But that’s really more of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, working remotely requires a little extra discipline. But there’s no reason you can’t be just as productive in your home as you can be anywhere else.

The keys to success are not that different from traditional office-based environments:

  • Allocate short-term tasks and long-term goals
  • Set strict deadlines to ensure things get done on time
  • Track jobs from planning to completion

By doing these three things consistently, it’s easy to ensure work doesn’t drop off just because you and your team aren’t in the same room. At Console, we use a range of applications such as Asana and Trello to assign, track, and manage tasks and projects. This means that wherever we’re located, there’s always the same level of accountability for our work being completed.

Be mindful of your environment

When working remotely, the place you work is just as important as how you get it done. While it might be tempting to take the laptop into the bedroom or relax on the sofa in a gown, it’s certainly not conducive to staying productive.

If possible, establish a home office—even if it’s only temporary—and make rules about how it’s used. For example, develop routines and schedules, just as if you were commuting into the office.

For example:

  • Start and finish at the same time every day
  • Put on and change out of professional attire to signal when you’re on and off the clock
  • Take breaks at regular times and don’t alter your schedule to do housework
  • Avoid working outside of your home office
  • Don't use your work area for other activities if possible

By separating your home life from your work life, it’s much easier to stay on task and avoid the urge to take unnecessary breaks. Humans are creatures of habit, so you’re much more likely to remain productive if you establish clear boundaries between work and leisure.

Stay in touch with colleagues

When you’re the only person in the office, it can be challenging to stay motivated and on-task. And it’s the same when you’re working remotely.

Regularly update your coworkers and managers on where you’re at with different projects, reach out for help when you get stuck, and let everyone know when you’re beginning or ending your workday.

As well as preventing the perception that you’re working under-capacity, this also helps to keep everything on track. At Console, we’re big fans of Slack, and use it for everything from everyday communication and catch-ups to specialised taskforces for particular projects.

We’re not suggesting you should constantly bombard colleagues with questions and cat memes—though the latter has been known to happen. But making regular contact with coworkers goes a long way to ensuring work gets completed on time.

Work more collaboratively

One of the major challenges of working from home is that it’s easy to become siloed and feel like you’re all alone. That’s why software that allows you to collaborate is so popular these days, particularly so with remote workers.

We use the Google suite and online whiteboard apps like Miro, which allow us to work on projects together, trading feedback and ideas directly within documents. Not only does this take the pressure off us as individuals, it means we’re all on the same page with where projects are at.

For property managers, this principle is just as important. While server-based software, such as our own Console Gateway, can be inflexible with how offices tackle tasks together, cloud-based software such as Console Cloud offers substantial and transformative benefits in terms of collaboration.

Whether you’re at home, in the office, or even on a tropical island, Console Cloud allows you complete access to all your data, contacts, and workflows as long as you have an internet connection.

That means it’s simple to pick up where a colleague left off, or check in with where a process is at—before it gets forgotten and left uncompleted.

We’d suggest:

  • Checking in each morning with what you’ll be doing
  • Letting your team know when you’ve completed an important job
  • Sending alerts when an emergency or urgent task crops up
  • Signing off each day with an update of what’s been done and what’s still to do

It might sound a little daunting, but it’s no different from operating in a regular office environment.

 Be ready to learn and adjust

Of course, even with all this advice, working remotely can be a huge shift for some people—especially those who have spent most of their professional lives inside an office.

That’s why it’s important to learn as you go, and adjust your remote work habits to what suits you best. If anything, this freedom to tailor your working-from-home schedule is one of the most empowering and freeing aspects of the shift.

So if you’re currently working remotely, or you’re about to be, it’s definitely important to get ready to adjust your behaviour. But don’t get stressed about slacking off, missing deadlines, or losing track of tasks. Take things one step at a time, establish the tools and routines you need to find success, and decide what works for you.

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