I was encouraged by a recent poll about small business owners. It was a survey about the changes wrought by two years of Covid-19 related business changes. For the most part, small business owners did what they always do: stay flexible and seek the best route forward.
The positives at my small business:
What encourages me most is this: ”Most small business owners have improved their relationship with their employees by trusting them more (63%) and having better communication (55%).” [Source]
Covid-19 did not dramatically change the amount of time members of my company spent in the office. When a buyer’s agent is doing their most important work, they are not in the office. Instead, they are out in the community where they are learning about properties for sale and showing them. They each keep a computer at home to work in their own space, on their own time schedule. We have secure systems, so that only our staff have access to our files.
When I am supervising, I am almost never face-to-face. Instead, I am troubleshooting Comparative Market Studies or negotiation strategies by phone, and looking at shared files. Those systems were well established before the pandemic. So, my trust in my agents was well established and didn’t involve checking at their desks to see if they were doing their jobs.
Communication got better. Why? Because we needed one another more. All of my current agents have school-aged children at home. They were juggling childcare and real estate work. Once we began showing property again, we needed to have one another’s backs. The communication improved, and probably their trust of one another got better along the way.
That makes me happy.
We did miss one another, in three dimensions. We had one face-to-face office party to celebrate an agent’s retirement; it wasn’t in the office, either. Other than that, we have been meeting on line, via Zoom.
The negatives for me:
In the two years since the beginning of the pandemic, I have experienced what other small business owners (47% of those surveyed) experienced: I am wearing more hats.
In our case, all of the current agents needed time off, due to Covid-related obligations and stress. There were not enough of us to cover one another, without me (the broker) pitching in. This eventually over-stressed me, too. We were all a little fried as the summer ended in 2021. By fall, they were sufficiently recharged. My overload continued into the fall since we needed to replace our bookkeeper and admin person. Until we accomplished this, that work fell to me.
As my company readies for the next busy season, I am optimistic.
I have staff that I entirely trust. They trust one another. We are making joint decisions effectively. Our systems are getting back to normal with the new bookkeeper and our research files are in the process of getting the attention they need.
What will happen if there is another variant of Covid-19 that disrupts business?
We are agreed about our general path forward. Safety first. We will take precautions in line with public health guidelines, if another infection is passing through. So far, so good, since 2020.
Here are the highlights of a poll of 1,000 small business owners:
- More than half of small business owners (56%) agree that working from home during the pandemic has made their experience of leading a team easier and more productive, according to a new poll.
- Three in five respondents said they are feeling more empathetic toward their employees and colleagues.
- Seven in ten saw silver linings to the changes wrought by Covid restrictions.
- Most small business owners have improved their relationship with their employees by trusting them more (63%) and having better communication (55%).
- Working from home has also allowed more businesses to see an increase in customers (46% vs. 25% who have lost customers) and sales.
- 41% admitted they don’t have the same capacity to oversee all aspects of their business from home.
- 47% saying they wear more hats.