COVID-19 has completely shifted the way the real estate industry operates daily. While health and well-being have certainly become a primary focus in the home, real estate professionals must ensure this same level of comfort and safety is present in their place of business.
As professionals begin to increase in-person interactions with colleagues, staff and clients, and prepare for a return to the office, brokerages need to create a tailored strategy specific to their workforce, region and regulations.
While the approach will be different for each business, there are three essential items to consider across the board.
1. Create a strategy
Real estate firms need to be attentive and strategically plan their return strategy. The goal here is to ensure the health and safety of the returning agents and staff while simultaneously resuming operations.
For example, to prepare for The Agency’s June corporate office reopenings, we’ve partnered with the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), a leading organization centered on creating best practices to advance the health and well-being of office spaces and communities.
We achieved the impressive benchmark of becoming the first residential brokerage to earn the WELL Health-Safety Rating. We did this by updating operational policies, maintenance protocols, stakeholder engagement and emergency plans to address a post-COVID-19 environment now and in the future.
Our team worked tirelessly with meticulous attention to detail and created a tailored strategy and new standard of operations to ensure our team’s comfort, well-being and safety.
Creating new systems will ensure your business is fully prepared for a safe return and enhanced wellness experience for clients, agents, staff, and office guests.
2. Ensure that health comes first
It is essential to create an environment that supports your company’s well-being — one that lets your agents and staff know their health and wellness are the No. 1 priority when returning to the office.
Make sure the office is set up to help maintain and promote good hygiene, socially distanced working environments, enhanced cleaning and filtration systems, easy access to sanitizing supplies, no-touch trash cans, doors, and more. Create a health-focused plan that implements changes that can help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
In preparation for our return to the office, we drew from IWBI’s core principles, in addition to guidance on the spread of infectious diseases as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ASTM International, ASHRAE, global disease control and prevention centers, leading academic and research institutions, and emergency management agencies.
Tap into resources in your local network and global organizations like those mentioned above to ensure your company’s return is guided by science-based recommendations.
3. Communicate new protocols
Once a return-to-office strategy has been created, it’s crucial to keep your agents and staff informed about new policies, procedures, and expectations in the office. Make sure there is a communication strategy in place to provide timely, relevant and accurate information related to coronavirus, and any changes or adaptations that may be needed over time.
In addition to having new procedures, be sure to keep staff and agents safe by providing training on new and enhanced protocols, which will ultimately lead to greater awareness and compliance.
If agents and staff have any questions or concerns, make sure there is a place they can comfortably voice these. We recently sent out a company-wide survey to gauge the interest and comfort levels for the return of company in-person events. Surveys and anonymous platforms are an excellent way to gain feedback and ensure all are comfortable with the work procedures.
As agents and staff plan to return to the office, having an action plan that prioritizes safety and wellness is so important. By creating a tailored strategy and keeping health and wellness top-of-mind, the real estate industry can get back to business and continue to serve clients buy and sell real estate.
Mauricio Umansky is the founder and CEO of The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with him on Instagram.