Many businesses are preparing for the possibility of needing to work from home for a temporary period of time.
Based on input from experts and agents across the country, here are some practical things to start thinking about now to make sure you’re well prepared if your business did need to operate from outside the office.
Making and receiving phone calls
If a customer tries to reach you on the phone but the office is closed, what would happen? Can you transfer your office number to a mobile if you need to?
Action: Speak to your telecoms/IT provider if you’re unsure how to transfer calls to a mobile.
Does everyone who would need to answer or make calls have a mobile phone at home?
Action: Look into buying or leasing mobiles if you don’t have enough to cover everyone that would need one.
Another option is for staff to install a “soft phone” on their laptop connected to your company phone system. For this, they’ll require a laptop and headphones. Does everyone who’d need them have them?
Action: Speak to your phone provider to see if this is an option for you.
Does everyone who needs to monitor and respond to emails have a laptop or device at home available for business use? If staff have a work laptop, many businesses are now mandating that they take these home every night.
Action: Consider how many people in your branch need a laptop to keep services running. Ask your staff to take laptops home every evening rather than leaving them in the office.
Consider how you’d replace face to face meetings where multiple people are involved. Do you have a conference call facility set up? Is videoconferencing an option for you? Many companies are currently offering free trials of these services and are extending the length of them to specifically help smaller businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.
Action: Arrange and test conferencing or videoconferencing software and make sure everyone is trained on how to use it.
Is there an agreed system your company uses for internal instant messaging? Many options are available (often free, or with free trials) but it’s worth agreeing on one and making sure everyone knows how to install and access it. Popular options are Skype, Slack or Whatsapp.
Action: Agree and communicate your chosen system for internal instant messaging and make sure all staff have the relevant app installed on their devices.
Think about how you’d let all your staff know if the Government or your Head Office mandated overnight that all offices must close effective immediately. Do you have an up-to-date email address and phone number for all staff?
Action: Decide the method you’d use to send a message announcing an office closure that would reach all your staff. Make sure that you’ve got up-to-date contact details for all staff so that they’d receive the message.
Accessing systems and files
Think about how staff would access your CRM system if they’re not in the office. Is it available online? Does your CRM have an app and does everyone know how to use it?
Actions: Make sure you and all your staff are familiar with how to access your CRM system from home.
If your company restricts access to certain systems or programmes only to people accessing via a company VPN (Virtual Private Network), does everyone have the VPN software set up on their laptops and know how to use it?
Action: If you use a VPN, ensure everyone has the relevant VPN software installed on their laptops and is fully trained on how to access it. Ask them to test it at home as soon as possible and confirm it works for them.
Would you want files to be available to access from a laptop or other device? If you store files in a cloud solution like One Drive or Sharepoint Online, you’ll be able to more easily access and share files with our team.
Action: Investigate and set up One Drive or Sharepoint Online, making sure you have enough storage available, that key documents are uploaded and that all members of your team can access it.
If you have staff who need to update your Rightmove listings through Rightmove Plus.
We restrict Rightmove Plus access to verified browsers to help keep your data secure. When a user tries to log in from a new browser for the first time, access from that browser will need to be verified by clicking the verification link we send you via email.
Action: As soon as possible, log in to Rightmove Plus from all browsers on laptops that would be used to work from home in order to verify access from that browser.
If your team needs to access Rightmove Lead Reports to help them handle incoming leads from home make sure they have the right permissions set up. We restrict access to Lead Reports to ensure your data and your customers’ data is secure. We may need to update permissions in Rightmove Plus to allow you or your team members to access your Lead Reports.
Action: As soon as possible, log in to Rightmove Plus and check that all members of your team who need to access your leads can see the Lead Report option on the menu. If you can’t, ask our Customer Support Team to change your permissions by emailing us at email@example.com.
Speak to your suppliers
Contact each of your suppliers, particularly if they offer services for your customers in their properties for services like repairs, Energy Performance Certificates, property photography and floorplans and so on.
Action: Find out what measures your suppliers are taking and ask them to keep you up-to-date. That way, you’ll know ahead how any services you offer might be affected.
Communicating changes to office hours
Think about how you’d communicate any changes in your opening hours to your existing and potential customers. Can you update your phone system’s “On Hold” message and voicemail from outside the office? How easy is it to update the wording on your website? It’s worth having these things prepared in advance in case you need to switch them on at short notice.
Actions: Speak to your IT/website/telecoms providers, or familiarise yourself with how to make these changes if your phone system and/or website are managed in-house.
Communicating with your customers
Even if you haven’t had to close your offices, consider pro-actively communicating to your customers. You could start by answering the questions your customers are most likely to ask.
You might find that during this time that many of your potential buyers, tenants, landlords and vendors are engaging with you online – through Rightmove, your own website or via social media. This could also be an opportunity to do any community building activities via email, live-streaming or You Tube as a safe way to remain top of mind and reassure your customers.
It’s important to keep the conversation going with your customers in a way that is honest, direct and timely.
Finally… be prepared
There’s a lot to think about when enabling effective home working and other issues will no doubt come to light that we haven’t covered here. Many businesses are preparing for this by trialling a day working from home and inviting staff to share feedback on their experience to improve their processes.
Action: Trial a day where all staff work from home. Identify any issues and fix them so you’re prepared if your team needs to work from home for a more extended period.
Rightmove is running a series of webinars over the next few weeks to help agents prepare for a temporary period of home working due to Coronavirus. We’ve invited industry experts to share best practice and insight, covering a range of topics to help you and your business.Visit hub.rightmove.co.uk to see our full virtual training schedule and look out for emails as more webinars are announced.
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