Remote work might be the most common real estate subject in 2022, but we don’t hear as much about how real estate pros themselves are working remotely. In this article, we’re covering considerations firms should take as they roll out (or choose not to roll out) remote working plans for their own employees.
CRE remote work statistics
Deloitte’s 2022 Commercial Real Estate Outlook surveyed 400 real estate executives in the summer of 2021. Every surveyed firm had at least $100 million of assets under management when the survey was performed.
The researchers found that two third of respondents said their institutions will be at least partially remote going forward, with property operations, analytics and reporting roles most likely to stay remote.
An earlier 2021 study by Bisnow asked 1200 real estate employees their optimal number of work from home days per week. Almost 46 percent said more than one day a week, while almost 10 percent said never. About a quarter said the ideal number was once a week.
Benefits of remote work in commercial real estate
Introducing a remote work element to your team can allow a lean organization to cover a greater geographic area for important functions like property tours, meeting partners, and networking events.
If you’re focusing on a specific region, like the Southeast, this could make your team more effective at rapidly responding to opportunities as they arise. Additionally, if your firm is scaling into a new region, establishing an employee presence in-market could be a great way to start building local relationships.
Broadly speaking, many studies seem to indicate that having an option for remote as well as an option for in-person satisfies the greatest number of employees. This becomes materially beneficial when it comes to acquiring and then retaining best-in-class talent.
Our take is that each employee you onboard should be addressed as an individual. If you’re willing to entertain the idea of allowing remote work for excellent employees who desire it, promote an open dialogue about what would get them to join or stay at your firm, and then follow through on your offers.
A challenge for remote commercial real estate teams
Having your team geographically dispersed can make it harder to stay on the same page with deal progress and hurdles.
What if your project is located in Texas, your home office is in California, and your regional development manager lives in Colorado?
There is an interesting parallel between making your firm ready for remote work, and making your firm ready for a transaction in a new market.
Just like taking on a project in a different city or state, the challenge of deal synchronicity is surmountable. In both cases, it pays to make sure all your ducks are in a row before jumping in headfirst.
We’ve found, through our own growth as a remote organization, that having the right business operating system accessible to all of our employees has been very helpful. It allowed us to keep everyone aligned to the same deadlines, growth goals, and measurables.
Systems for remote CRE teams
In addition to a remote-friendly leadership and management methodology like EOS, a project management tool that allows you to see task assignees, deadlines, and dependencies is very useful. We use ClickUp, which integrates well with EOS and is flexible enough to track different custom processes. Others, like Dealpath, are purpose-built for managing the real estate acquisition process. Any of these solutions could make your firm’s remote experience much more successful.
Be sure to shop around and trial any platforms you’re seriously considering utilizing. You may not recognize mission-critical features until you’re actively using the tool.
In this article we’ve discussed several realities of remote work as they apply to CRE investors and developers. Not every organization needs to embrace a remote team, but for those that do, it pays to be aware of the advantages and challenges that are specific to our industry.