We’re witnessing changing times in the American workforce. Currently, 3.7 million people work from home at least half the time. By 2020, experts estimate 50% of the workforce will be remote.
A more pressing matter, the COVID-19 virus, has led to an acceleration of professionals working from home. With the self-quarantine and social distancing measures governments have recommended to stop the spread of the virus, many companies that are able to have sent employees home and asked them to work remotely.
Before the spread of COVID-19, there were many underwriters, loan processors, and loan officers who worked remotely in 2019. But with this sudden change, many mortgage professionals may find themselves in a situation where they’re not sure how best to set up at home and stay productive during this time of social distancing.
There are benefits and drawbacks to working remotely. On the positive side, you don’t need to commute to work and may have a better work-life balance. For some, drawbacks to working remotely include feeling a lessened connection to colleagues. These drawbacks can cause many professionals who are used to working in an office environment to struggle to adapt to working remotely.
If you’re having a hard time with adjusting to being a remote employee (temporary or not) or just want to improve your productivity while working at home, check out our remote working tips below.
Own Your Space
One common mistake among mortgage professionals who start working remotely is that they don’t establish a dedicated workspace right off the bat. Having a dedicated workspace helps you mentally prepare to “go to work” and helps you block out distractions like kids or pets.
There are many options available to remote workers when it comes to workspaces. They range from having a work desk in the spare bedroom to renting a small office in a coworking space like WeWork (although WeWork spaces are not ideal in this current environment).
When you decide on your dedicated workspace, commit to keeping it organized. While the mortgage industry has come a long way in terms of digitizing more of the process, you will likely still need to touch a piece of paper as part of each mortgage application. That’s why it’s critical to set up a filing and organization system that works for you.
Being organized will not only help your space feel cleaner and calmer, but it will also help you find what you need when you need it.
Make Sure It’s Safe
We deal with a lot of sensitive borrower information in the mortgage industry. In an office, it’s easy to adapt to the company’s latest data security measure and as a remote employee, your company will help ensure your equipment is up-to-date and has the latest security system installed.
In addition to following your company’s data security best practices such as locking your computer when you walk away or not clicking on suspicious emails, you should also take additional measures to secure your office. This could include having a filing cabinet with a lock on it or locking your office door when you leave it.
Be Protective of Your Time
Just as you would at an office, be protective of your time at your home office. As a remote employee, you are still expected to work your designated 8 hours but too often, remote workers fall into the trap of working for much longer than if they worked in an office.
When you start working remotely, give yourself set times to start and end working. As a remote employee, you are still entitled to lunch and breaks, but schedule those out as you would in an office. Block off time in your calendar to ensure no one will schedule a meeting over times you have blocked off as a break. This type of calendar keeping is all part of good time management.
Network (and Connect) from Home
One of the biggest challenges mortgage professionals face when working remotely is the chance to network with colleagues face to face. However, that does not mean that you’re out of the networking game completely.
When working remotely, commit to meeting and networking with at least one new person at your company per month. You can set up a 30-minute phone call or video chat to get to know the person and understand their role in the company. Continue to develop those relationships through continued phone conversations and meeting in-person if you’re able to travel to the same place.
Networking does take dedicated time and energy, but it is completely doable when you work remotely. Dedicating the effort to networking within your company can open more opportunities for added responsibilities and promotions like to people management or team lead.
For a more relaxed connection outlet, find some time to connect with colleagues just to chat. It took no time at all for several teams at Genworth MI to set up Microsoft Teams channels to keep up casual conversations with coworkers (and share pictures of their pets).
Master Working Remotely
As we discussed, the world is becoming more technologically savvy and the workforce is changing to not only keep up but also to leverage those technologies.
As a remote mortgage employee, you can master working remotely in a few ways:
- Create a dedicated workspace
- Still follow your company’s data security best-practices with a few additional measures
- Be defensive of your calendar
- Commit to networking (and staying connected) with others in your company
These are some of our top tips for working remotely, but you can find even more in our Working Virtual training course.
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