Remote work is no longer reserved for digital nomads. In the Zoom-centric world of remote work, the increasing need for flexible staffing solutions has become the norm. And contrary to popular belief, hiring remote employees isn’t limited to big tech.
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Property managers can—and often should—hire, train, and employ virtually to save time and money, without compromising on quality, personalized service. Here’s how.
What Is Remote Staffing?
Remote staffing is hiring employees and assistants who work completely digitally. They’re typically skilled part-time workers from different regions around the world. This allows property managers to scale quickly with less overhead and gain access to a greater talent pool that isn’t limited to one location.
What Are the Types of Remote Hires?
There are various types of ways you can hire remotely, depending on the role you’re looking to fill. Here are some of the most common job types out there that are relevant to property management:
Virtual property management assistants work completely offsite and not contracted by an official employee. Virtual property management assistants are generally very skilled at a few select tasks rather than a part-time employee who may have a broader scope. Think of specific roles like scheduling, securing and qualifying leads, drafting documents, or researching a specific rental market. Virtual property management assistants can be a good fit for these tasks.
Freelancers are independent contractors who aren’t bound to work for one company. Their scope of work is limited to a time frame and a contracted pay rate and can range from consulting agreements or project-based work. If you’re embarking on a new project or expecting a one-time or seasonal uptick in your workload, independent contractors can help.
Remote employees are full-time staff that work virtually and receive the benefits and responsibilities of a regular employee. Investing in a full-time remote employee means you can count on them to support your business as it grows and your long-term relationships with owners and tenants.
What Are the Benefits of Remote Staffing?
Choosing to hire remotely comes with its own set of benefits that only become more clear when you factor in the difficult rental market conditions the industry’s currently facing:
Wide talent pool. Unlike traditional on-site hires, you have access to a global talent pool that’s not limited to your location. This is especially valuable for property managers in more rural areas with fewer local professionals, or in densely populated areas where hiring costs are high. When hiring for a specific task—or even industry like property management—that pool gets even narrower. Luckily, you’ll be able to cast a wide, virtual net and sift through your options to find someone that’s the best fit for the job.
Lower overhead. Without worrying about leasing, purchasing, and maintaining a commercial space, you can run your business operations either entirely through your laptop, from home or, if you’re already an established property management company, with less office space.
Increased output. On average employees are 47% more productive working remotely than in an office setting. While there are operational challenges that come with running remote teams, this allows managers to focus on output and results over politics.
What Are the Downsides of Remote Staffing?
Of course, choosing to hire remote employees can introduce a few risks. These challenges are tightly tied to how you’re already running your business:
The need for personalized customer service. Property management is all about people and relationships. It can be hard to establish personalized service when your employees are separated by several hundred (or thousand) miles. That’s why elements of the job that require more personalized attention—think meeting with clients, settling disputes, selecting a new vendor or helping tenants with the move-in process—are best left to you or another property manager. The benefit of hiring remotely is freeing up time and resources for you to focus on offering that kind of personalized attention.
New management challenges. Managing remote teams is vastly different from in-person environments. Effectively utilizing digital tools, tracking productivity, and keeping employees engaged are challenges that require experience. Sometimes that means adopting new communication tools or shifting to a different property management platform. On the plus side, introducing the right tech can save you money and help you run your business more efficiently, regardless of whether you hire remotely or not.
Reliance on internet connectivity. Not everyone has access to gigabit fiber optic internet. Internet speeds may be slower in some cities, countries, and regions, so consider both your own connectivity and the connectivity of potential employees before making a hiring decision..
Different time zones. When working with remote staff, it’s important to consider time zone differences. If your business is located in the United States and you’re looking to hire staff in Europe, there will be a significant time difference. Even though you may be working with skilled workers from across the pond, working in separate time zones may slow down projects as you’re limited to overlapping hours. That’s why it’s important to think about the type of job you’re filling, how time sensitive it is, and what hours of the day you’ll need your remote hire to be active and accessible.
Property Management Jobs for Remote Staff
With the pros and cons in mind, here are some specific roles that you can start hiring remotely for today:
Whether it’s jumping from one building to another, meeting with owners, or coordinating repairs, property managers have extremely busy schedules. An experienced virtual property management assistant can help you manage, schedule, and push meetings to maximize your productivity. Whether it’s managing your calendars, emails, or taking phone calls, this can make a significant impact on your business.
If you’re not using property management software to handle your communication, a remote employee can help you categorize and respond to complaints and requests. Just keep in mind that certain sensitive issues, like tenant disputes, may require more personalized or in-person attention. Having tools like resident or owner portals are an effective way to capture all communication in one place, then filter which you’ll need to handle in which can be passed along to a remote team member. Software like Buildium offer these kinds of tools.
While you’d like to run all parts of your business, marketing oftentimes falls by the wayside. Hiring experienced marketers can help you grow your business through social media, building your website, and building out your email newsletters.
There is a lot of paperwork and meetings involved in managing different properties, including upkeep, governance, and managing all your documents. Hiring virtual assistants to manage repeatable and redundant tasks is an excellent way to free up your resources.
If you’re managing multiple properties, you’ll need to be available 24/7/365. Outsourcing your contact centers can help you keep up with the flow of incoming maintenance calls and help you complete work orders faster. Remember that these agents represent you, so look for contact centers that prioritize availability, response time, and quality of service that reflects well on your business. Buildium offers this type of partner solution, and works inline with your brand, so residents will feel like they’re communicating with your team—not a third party. You can rely on highly-trained support instead of worrying about handling difficult requests or complaints yourself.
How to Prepare Your Business for Remote Workers
Like any new hire, you can’t expect remote employees to instantly hit the ground running. You need to adequately prepare, train, and manage your new staff. Here’s what you need to do to get the most out of your new hires.
Be clear about scope
What type of property management tasks do you need help with? What skills and experience are required? By defining your needs upfront, you’ll be able to find a remote staffing solution that’s a good fit for your business.
The more time you spend writing a clear job description, the better hires you will attract, so be clear about the tasks involved, timelines, budget, and exact skillset you’re looking for.
Get the right hire
Before you even make the hire, make sure you’re vetting the right candidates. Write out interview questions that are very specific to the task that needs to be done. Consider providing a paid project to test their skill set.
Provide exceptional onboarding
Have all your hiring resources and meeting schedules set before your new hire starts! Ensure you’re covering all the bases when it comes to onboarding and staying in close communication with them for more complex jobs.
Understanding the challenges about remote work is a great start when thinking about effectively managing your remote staff. Solving for the lack of face time, video fatigue, communication breakdowns, and distractions can determine the success of your remote hires. Provide the right tools and communication cadence that works for your individual needs.
Software that helps you manage employees digitally and gives team members the tools to communicate with each other quickly can make both onboarding and monitoring ongoing performance easy.
Set expectations and celebrate success
Success doesn’t come overnight! So be sure to pace yourself and make sure you’re just only providing critical feedback, but also celebrating your team’s successes.
Stay Focused On Your Business
Whether it’s hiring a virtual assistant or fully remote employees, property managers have a lot of options to lighten daily workloads and ensure their residents are well cared for around the clock. If you’re looking to do more with less, Buildium can be the bedrock for an effective team and help you grow on your terms.Read more on Team