July 27, 2023 |
Updated August 28, 2023
Employees are still looking for the opportunity to be remote or have a flexible schedule, which can include compressed work schedules and four-day workweeks.
Flexible scheduling has become quite popular during the past three-plus years. It has infiltrated nearly all industries, with rental housing being no exception. Onsite flexible scheduling (or potentially completely remote work as seen during the early days of the pandemic), once considered an employee perk, is now near the top of many employees’ wish lists.
But in an industry—one that’s deeply rooted in customer service—where being in-person and in the leasing office or out in the community was the norm, other developments occurred that helped ease the challenges of not being onsite. This includes the large rise in self-guided and virtual touring. Now that most of the challenges of being onsite have disappeared, employees are still looking for the opportunity to be remote or have that flexible schedule, which can include compressed work schedules and four-day workweeks.
During the Apartmentalize session, “Breaking Bad: Cracking the Code for Onsite Work Flexibility,” a panel of industry leaders reviewed challenges, best practices and examples of workplace flexibility.
“In order to do this well, we have to be intentional and address the concerns of the organization, and it has to make sense for the individual and the organization itself. We’re looking for win-win opportunities, but we also understand the competitive nature and need for remote work,” said Jonakan O’Steen, Principal at Jonakan O’Steen Consulting, and a speaker during the session at Apartmentalize in Atlanta this past June.
Julie Blaikie, Vice President, Human Resources Business Partner at Equity Residential, shared her experience with the 10-hour, four-day workweek and found it beneficial in four ways: Productivity increased since employees were able to work on administrative tasks prior to opening the office to residents; reduced overtime for service technicians on Saturdays; positive work-life balance impacts due to less commuting time, and it’s less of an expense for employees; and employee retention.
Carolyn Lewis, Director of Talent Acquisition at Gables Residential, discussed how searching for staff continues to be a challenge and how they are fighting different industries for talent, not just other rental housing providers. “We really are finding that we’re competing for talent with the gig economy. A couple of years ago, we might have said we’re competing with retail, restaurant, hospitality, but now, our same workforce can go out and be an Uber driver or shop for Instacart or be a social media influencer.” Lewis said they established their own gig economy system to help short-staffed properties and give employees an outlet for professional development.
The panel also touched on the several types of workplace flexibility and best practices for garnering support from leadership like establishing clear policies and procedures, sharing success stories and providing training and support.
Michael Miller is NAA’s Managing Editor.