Kenny Kane is the Chief Operating Officer at Firmspace.
As my family begins to plan our own modified holiday celebrations for winter, I’ve been thinking about how to make this holiday season special for my team, even as old modes of connection are limited.
Professionals — especially those who work independently or run small real estate agencies — may feel the lack of in-person connection keenly at this time of year. The camaraderie and collegiality of sharing a laugh is different over a Zoom call, but you can still capture some of this joy and find space for your own celebrations without hopping between a different holiday Zoom cocktail hour every night.
Here are a few tips to help real estate professionals navigate their work-life balance during this socially distant holiday season.
However You Choose to Celebrate This Year, Prioritize Safety
As Covid-19 cases continue to spike in many states this month, encourage your team and family to keep local health restrictions in mind when planning holiday travel and visits. It’s critical to encourage safe behavior in the office today, and this can be especially challenging for those who are traveling to see family when they want to return to work.
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• Clearly articulate the health protocols and safety standards for your office space.
• Model diligent mask-wearing in your own office and if you travel, follow local quarantine guidelines on both sides of your trip.
• Plan ahead and share your plans. Let your colleagues and clients know why you can’t meet face-to-face to help uphold a high standard of safety and precautionary measures.
It’s important that everyone has time to relax with family and friends, and it’s critical that your holiday plans don’t have a negative impact on the safety of everyone else in the office. To find this balance, communicate clearly and demonstrate the kind of behavior you hope to see in colleagues. For many companies and organizations, this means that your holiday gathering may be another video call, but with the right attitude and a round of deliveries, you can still come together for an hour of cheer.
Don’t Skip Client Or Staff Recognition This Year
I’ll admit that I, too, feel nostalgic for our holiday happy hour of yore with cheese, crackers and red wine. At Firmspace, we’re still deciding how our team will celebrate the holidays this year, but it’s clear that demonstrating staff and client appreciation is critical. While client appreciation may not look the same as it has in years past, whether we send everyone a bottle of champagne to toast another year together or send out handwritten notes (or both), we’re not going to call it a wash.
If you’re looking for a more meaningful gift than a basket of pears, there are more personalizable ways to demonstrate your appreciation this year in a wave of purposeful purveyors, like companies that specialize in custom gift boxes that deliver an additional positive social impact.
However you choose to demonstrate your appreciation for clients and staff, take the time to include a heartfelt thank you — whether you send it via email or analog. The time you spend on this expression of gratitude won’t go unnoticed.
To Get the Most Out of Your Connections, Plan How You Will Disconnect
Heading into the holiday season, as with any time off, make a careful plan that will allow you and your team to disconnect from work to enjoy quality time with family and friends.
• Set clear expectations for the whole team. Establish clear guidelines for what turnaround times are going to be and create a clear plan of action for what should happen if something goes wrong. This means establishing a communications plan. Ensure that everyone knows whether to text, call, Slack or email in the event that they need urgent support.
• Make a plan to cover client accounts and to give everyone a break. Our team aims to keep everyone offline as much as possible during the holidays, and this takes careful coordination between team members to ensure that our customer support desk remains covered.
• Micromanage your push notifications. What you choose to mute or leave on will be highly personal, but I typically mute my email program so that I can really fine-tune what I need to address and when.
In most industries, real estate included, business tends to slow down for a few days while everyone takes a pause to spend time with loved ones. Even if you’re running your own company or independent firm, don’t fall into the trap of working through the holidays. A key part of being your own boss is knowing when it’s time to clearly communicate your availability, put down your phone and spend quality time with family and friends.
Deep Work Requires Planned Rest
If you’re reading this, you probably get to dictate when and where you work. You can take a couple of days off, and you play an integral part in establishing your firm’s culture from the top down.
The holidays are a great time for you to ensure that you and your team are taking time to rest and recharge. And as you know, time off is critical to maintaining your ability to dial in and do deep work on a regular basis.
As you look at the months ahead, you have a fresh opportunity to ensure that your time-off policies accommodate all your employees’ needs — leadership included. With the right policies in place, strong communication and a well-made plan, everyone on your team can get the rest they need to return to the office on Jan. 4 feeling refreshed.