• Being busy doesn't mean you're good at your job.
  • Real estate can implement changes to put more emphasis on work-life balance.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

A colleague posted on Facebook one of those motivational-type images that read:

“Stop the glorification of busy.”

I typically can’t scroll past this nonsensical, often grammatically butchered content fast enough.

But this one worked. It was relevant, and it connected.

This particular colleague is also a yoga instructor, so I’m certain that was a very deliberate post. It matters to me to knowing something isn’t haphazardly published.

That post has stuck with me for weeks. And I think it’s a message the real estate industry could benefit from hearing.

Always on

I’ve never met a real estate agent who could put off a phone call.

Lunch meeting? Phone is on the table, reminding you that something somewhere is more important than your conversation.

Granted, people in a lot of professions do this; real estate doesn’t own the busy addiction. Unfortunately though, it’s a stigma the industry can’t shake.

I know real estate agents because I’ve worked alongside them for almost 20 years.

My friends in the commercial space were the first people I knew to get cell phones. They wore them on their belts, often next to a Palm Pilot.

I remember a broker meeting in which we debated expensing monthly mobile phone bills because they were rapidly becoming the primary means of communication. I’m certain our C B Richard Ellis office wasn’t the only brokerage in the country having that conversation.

Looking back, maybe that was the turning point.

Not that specific meeting, of course, but that era — the birth of consumer-available cellular data.

‘I have to take this’

There’s more than a tech addiction to blame. There’s a mentality, too, a fear about saying “no” to clients and weekend showings.

There’s also the unfortunate belief that your friends and family will always understand why a text supersedes your conversation. “It’s work; just let me respond real quick.”

I know a lot of people are fans of Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s been recognized in the real estate industry quite a bit. I understand he gave a good speech at ICSF, and that he promotes “family first.”

And while I like his “outsider angst” toward big business, I don’t think the family part of his message sinks in with fans and followers. They only hear the “hustle” part, then subscribe to the Hustler’s Digest on Snapchat.

Hard work should always be commended, and those who work hard often beat those who merely have talent.

Nevertheless, it’s critical that hard workers become aware of what they’re giving up along the way.

They only hear the ‘hustle’ part, then subscribe to the Hustler’s Digest on Snapchat.

Are you building a life?

The multifamily brokerage I worked for never showed property on weekends. We didn’t allow buyer’s agents to show them either, regardless of how qualified the buyer or how tight their client’s weekly work schedule.

Our favorite response went something like this:

“If they’re serious about owning this property, they’ll come see it during the week.”

It was a situation each one of us had to describe to residential agents with investor clients at least once a week. The concept of not showing on weekends was utterly foreign to so many of our market colleagues.

We weren’t trying to stick it to anybody or make a statement. Not showing on weekends never cost us a listing client.

It came down to our broker valuing his time with family and wanting his agents (many of us much younger) to “have a life.” That’s exactly how he said it.

The agency of the future

I’ve been wondering lately, could another turning point soon occur in the real estate industry?

In this post-recession, pre-bubble age of hybrid brokerages, agent-less home tours, Compass and other industry shake-ups, will we soon see a “no-show on weekends” agency?

It came down to our broker valuing his time with family.

Perhaps a real estate brand that sets limits on work hours for its agents will soon emerge, a company that celebrates life balance and reimburses agents for yoga retreats and hiking trips.

These ideas aren’t new. I run into corporate groups every weekend here in Truckee, California, working to escape Bay Area cubicles for some much-needed wilderness solace.

I also work in adventure travel, and the corporate wilderness retreat market is booming.

I’m confident the real estate industry could adopt such practices if it wants to. Corporate-driven, conference center-based events don’t count. Those are all about keeping people busy.

I believe it’s okay to not be available sometimes; don’t be afraid to let your voicemail fill to the “can no longer accept messages” level at least once a year.

Your business will be there when you get back.

If it isn’t, I have some ideas for what you can do with all that free time.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.

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