How to Overcome the Working From Home ‘Slump’

Business, Journal, Property Management, Sales,  Principals,  Property Managers,  Salespeople

The best real estate agents know how to work a room full of people, thrive on networking and thrive the buzz of an active office environment, but how do you achieve that balance when working under isolated restrictions?

As any successful real estate professional knows, you have to be a ‘people person’ to achieve extraordinary results in the property sector. While property is at the forefront of any transaction – regardless of whether you’re selling or leasing – what really matters most are human connections. After all, someone is trusting you with one of the most significant assets in their life, and if they don’t connect with you on a personal level, you might find yourself losing a client or sale. Let’s face it – if you didn’t love people, you probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as you have in the real estate profession.

So in the midst of a global pandemic where human connection is quite limited, how do you keep your head above water – not just in a business sense, but in a mental wellbeing sense also? Stuart Legg, Sales Associate at RE/MAX Regency Robina says the biggest challenge has been going from “100 kilometres per hour to just 10 kilometres per hour.”

“I have very much missed the dynamic vibe of our office and I’ve realised that I love the environment in which I work,” says Legg. “Maintaining motivation and obtaining the sense of achievement we get most days when working in a ‘normal’ world is also proving difficult.”

To combat feeling unmotivated, Legg has set up a strict morning routine which involves rising early, meditating and only allowing himself to watch half an hour’s worth of news before starting the work day. The RE/MAX Regency team also keeps in regular contact with video meetings to boost morale and share important information about the market. And while Legg agrees that negotiating with buyers and sellers can easily be done via the phone, he says buyer enquiry is the lowest he’s ever experienced since becoming a real estate agent – which can also add to the stress and anxiety of working remotely. “Being realistic helps your mental state – we are in the middle of the biggest disaster of our lifetimes and it’s not going to be easy, so don’t set the benchmark too high for yourselves,” advises Legg. “I set myself tasks to do around the house, such as small DIY and improvement jobs. If I’m frustrated at a lack of work achievement, at least I can still feel I’ve accomplished something in the day.”

Psychologist Ronita Neal agrees that a routine can help abate some of the stresses of working from home – particularly for people working in a household with young children or others who may not be working themselves. “Set up working routines and strategies to separate “work time” from “family” time or relaxation time,” suggests Neal. “Many of us already struggled with this before COVID-19 but now it’s more likely to be a problem for everyone. Try to start work at the same time every day and designate a knock-off time where you will then be available to the family or housemates. It helps most of us to have a defined space where we work which isn’t the same place as where we relax so your brain (and your household) is not confused.”

Neal also suggests to watch tone and language when speaking to other members of the household during the workday. Taking a deep breath before retorting to something that is irritating you and replying in a calm and polite manner will avoid unnecessary conflict in the home. Remember, we don’t know how long we could be working like this – do you really want the next six months to be an unpleasant experience for you and your household?

If you live alone or in a household where nobody else is home during the day, you fortunately won’t have to deal with these sources of stress and anxiety. While some people revel in this work environment – the less distractions the better, right? – extroverts and naturally social people may struggle. Neal suggests a few steps people can take so their working from home experience doesn’t feel so isolated. “We have technology to help us stay connected with friends and family that are not in our household,” she says. “We can also use technology to have social interactions (that are non-work related) with our colleagues. The language we use to talk/ think about this will make a difference – even though we are not co-located, it doesn’t mean we have to be ‘in isolation’.”

Neal’s other tips for ‘surviving’ working from home include:

  • Use your “commute” time for something mentally beneficial, like yoga or meditation;
  • Make an effort to still enjoy exercise or hobbies you normally would (as long as they comply with the Government’s guidelines);
  • Don’t expose yourself to the 24-hour news cycle. When working from home, it’s easy to have the television or radio on in the background. Not only is this distracting, but an overexposure to information on COVID-19 may negatively impact your mental health;
  • Try not to vent about work-related issues to your family or housemates as moods are ‘contagious’ and doing so can create a stressful vibe in the household; and,
  • Take regular micro-breaks (around ten minutes or so) to relax, have a cup of coffee or simply to rest your eyes from staring at the screen all day. If you get easily distracted, set an alarm to differentiate the time between ‘break’ and ‘work.’

The Australian Psychological Society is hosting a free online event on Thursday, 23 April 2020 at 8pm which will offer advice to deal with feelings of loneliness, isolation and anxiety at this time. To learn more or to register, simply click here.