No Office Space? The Benefits of Being Online-Only
Companies are certainly catching onto the trend of “no office space” and it’s changing the way they work.
One of the aspects of Royal Rose Properties that our owners and tenant find the most disconcerting is that we have no office space. There’s no door you can go knock on and have someone from Royal Rose Properties waiting behind a desk on the other side to hear your story, take your money, or what have you. We’ve been accused of not being a real business several times because of that single fact – but the fact is, it’s a crucial part of how RRP operates.
The Value of an Office
The question is, what is it that an office really does for a property manager?
• Sure, it gives tenants a place to make a payment, but those dropped off payments are usually in cash which is a no-no to avoid break-ins and worse.
• An office also gives an upset tenant or contractor a place to go and holler/intimidate at someone – but trust us, they can do that quite well over the phone.
• It gives the company a place to keep all its paper — true, but RRP is a paperless company. Every piece of paper we receive gets scanned and stored on our cloud server, allowing it to be accessed from anywhere with internet.
• It could provide a place for the various departments to talk to each other, but we already have exactly that in the form of a chatroom that everyone is logged into for every minute that they’re on the clock.
• It provides a place to meet new clients – we find most clients want to meet at a property or prefer a location (a coffee shop) near them. We do have several office locations which we can use when someone really wants to meet with us.
The Cost of an Office
What people rarely think about is the downside of having an office space. There’s the obvious – rent, utility bills, furniture, etc. But there’s also a host of downsides that aren’t in the form of costs.
• An ‘office space’ mentality comes with the outdated notion of paying workers just for being in the work place. We don’t want to pay our staff for not working, so instead we pay them only for the time that they’re actually doing something useful, using time-tracking software that tells us when someone is actually at their home office desk doing stuff.
• Having a physical office similarly forces you to only hire workers within driving distance of your office. A virtual office allows us to recruit talent from places as distant as the Upper Peninsula, Minneapolis and Seattle – not to mention overseas.
• Commuting to an office every day wastes a lot of time, creating a lot of unnecessary stress and can increase staff turnover. In Metro Detroit commuting can eat up 20+% of ones waking hours each work day. Allowing people to work from home decreases stress while increasing performance.
Making the Call
Ultimately, though, the feather that tipped the scales in favor of an Internet-based, telecommuting company came from an unexpected corner: we studied our tenant base, and we realized that almost across the board, newspaper ads, signs in windows, walk-ins, and so on accounted for over 80% of our problem tenants. Tenants who have Internet access, and feel comfortable communicating through just the phone, email and text, rather than office visits – those tenants tended to be better performers.
Once we saw that the marketing process was better off online, we started looking at our other departments and figuring out just how much of our day-to-day activities really don’t require an office space, and from there, the process was entirely logical. Today we have dedicated locksmiths, inspectors, photographers, handymen, and event representatives who live in the area we serve. But our paperwork-handlers, creative labor, and even middle management save time, stress, and costs by reporting in electronically – even the ones that do live in the area — and we’re all the better for it.