The concept of an office may be something of an intangible for many of us these days. The ability to work efficiently from just about anywhere, has truly transformed business, not just real estate.
For many agents, their car becomes their de facto office. In some sense, for me, Manhattan is my office-taxis, buses, park benches, subways, and Starbucks. My physical office functions as my home base most days, its usually where I start and end my days, whenever possible and reasonable its an ideal place to meet clients and colleagues, but the ability to function efficiently IN or OUT of an office is crucial.
I remember that when I started in real estate in the early part of the last decade I was viewed as slightly ‘odd’ for having a Smartphone – to me it meant freedom from being in the office, so that I could be out ‘belly to belly’ conducting and generating more business.
My Smartphone is the center of my work world, and yes, it is a Blackberry. I realize its not known for all the ‘bells and whistles’ apps as an iPhone or an Android. Plain and simple it does the two things that are mission critical to my business- phone calls, and emails (and I remember the first Blackberries which were not capable of phone calls, there’s probably still one in my tech graveyard at home) – so that I am able to keep up with calls and emails whether they be for showings (no lockboxes here), or to conduct negotiations. Responsiveness in a timely fashion is essential. Almost anything else can wait or be delegated.
For me, having my own portable Internet connection is not optional, it is a necessity to maintain and maximize my mobile efficiency. Is it difficult to find free or low cost wifi, there’s always Starbucks, BUT this means I can literally work anywhere, no wasting time hunting and pecking. Whether I am using my iPad to complete a lease, or analyze current comparable data, accessing Dropbox for financials or purchase packages (that can be emailed immediately, no more ‘when I get back to the office I will’), using BuyFolio collaboratively to add notes as we are viewing properties, consulting UrbanDigs, or yes, even if it means handing it over to the little ones who want to play Angry Birds (which I did recently at a listing lunch, handed over the ‘spare’ iPad for games).
Most importantly, my iPad enables me to connect remotely to my office computing system (iTap is my app of choice, and until I figured out exactly HOW I could connect to my office remotely, I was unwilling to justify purchasing an iPad) – as much as I love Dropbox and similar services, there are some things that are best kept elsewhere. It means that if I have three hours between appointments but have work that needs to be and can be done during that time, I need not travel to the office and back – not good use of time to travel to an office only to have to leave for your next appointment once you arrive.
Evernote has become my running digital post it pad, which I can add to and access from any of my devices-versus losing post it notes and note cards- I use it for quick clipping, notes during meetings with clients and at the office, business planning, and even send my handwritten notes from NoteTaker HD and mindmaps to Evernote. It has quite literally become the core of my digital thought process.
I learn a lot from colleagues both within and outside of my market, and am constantly amazed at all the wonderful potential tools outside my market and yes I remain well aware of the ‘quirks’ of my market but rather than obsess over what I can not do, I focus on what I CAN do.
It is VERY easy to get distracted from your fundamental focus by the promise of something new and shiny that is going to ‘change the world’, but it takes a really deep look at your business process to determine what truly needs to be changed, and what the best tools are for your particular needs before running out to acquire the newest shiny object.