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15 September 2020

Virtual Hiring in Real Estate: Onboarding New Employees

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Virtual hiring can be tricky, which is why onboarding new employees in person is the preferred method for many organizations including the real estate industry. But, today’s real estate brokers and managers are faced with the challenge of navigating through social distancing mandates and limited office interaction due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Onboarding new employees, a process that ideally includes face-to-face meetings and other personal interactions like office tours and orientations, has been turned upside down and the industry is having to learn how to initiate successful first-encounters in a creative way.

An employee’s start with a brokerage is a career-defining moment. Don’t let the tough times that the real estate industry is facing today prohibit you from providing the groundwork for success for your affiliated agents and staff.

Focus on Developing Strong Connections

Whether you onboard your employees in person or virtually, the experience should focus on: developing strong connections to your agency and empowering new hires to feel productive in their roles.

Even while working from home, or with limited office interaction, it is your goal as a broker or manager to foster purpose in your new employees from day one. While today’s new-hire experience certainly looks and feels different from six months ago, it can and should be equally satisfying for your company and your new office members.

Harness the Power of Technology

Rather than holding orientation luncheons and in-person training sessions, you will have to be creative when onboarding new employees today. Harness the power of technology through virtual meetings and presentations. Create trusting and meaningful connections with new employees through frequent phone calls and inter-office chats.

Defining and demonstrating company culture is the one thing that is likely going to be most difficult to achieve when onboarding employees virtually. However, this challenge can be overcome through FaceTime office tours, regular video updates on policies and procedures, weekly direct-connect video calls with managers and comprehensive digital office manuals that employees have continued access to.

Mentoring to Foster Success

Many offices encourage current employees to reach out and personally welcome new members to the team via email or video. Successful remote onboarding today should include mentor groups, or one-on-one mentoring relationships, between seasoned staff and agents and the new members of your office. Mentors can check in frequently with new hires, either through email, phone calls or video conferencing.

When creating a virtual onboarding plan, make sure that your process is organized, accessible and communicative. Each step of the way, your new hires need to be able to clearly identify your company’s mission, values, strategies and goals.

Here are some tips on virtual hiring and onboarding new employees in the age of coronavirus and beyond, as more of the real estate industry moves online and embraces remote-work technology.

Provide Technology for Remote Access

When onboarding new employees, it is important to make sure the basics are covered. Every new hire should have access to a professional email address, video communication platform, company portal with important in-house documents and real estate forms database. 

Depending on your new employee’s role, you may also want to facilitate access to a title company’s database or a Realtor® association. Most of these resources can be easily obtained online today.

Facilitate Virtual Orientations

Whether your new employees will have to learn about writing contracts, coordinating transactions, managing the office or providing human resources services, you will build a bridge for success in our current environment by hosting or coordinating online orientations.

Usually, new-hires meet in person with someone who will teach them about the company, procedures and processes. With virtual onboarding, online meetings and orientations can take the form of group video or phone conferences, and web-based interactive experiences.

Gather and Sign Paperwork Digitally

There are many ways to gather information and documents digitally through secured servers, such as with E-Verify. Signing paperwork remotely is easy when you use platforms like DocuSign.

Your company should have systems in place for maintaining digital files on each employee, which can be leveraged to offer a personal touch in today’s remote-working world. Utilize technology that allows you to manage important information and track meaningful moments in your employees lives like birthdays and anniversaries.

Though virtual office tours, staff meetings and goal-planning sessions will remain the new normal for a while, you can ensure your employees’ and agency’s success by continuing to focus on quality communication and clear expectations.

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