A home working success story- how the lettings agency GSPC introduced home working successfully – and quickly
How the lettings agency GSPC introduced home working successfully – and quickly
As we’ve said before, introducing home working should ideally take at least a few weeks to plan and carry out. It’s perfectly possible to make a success of it if you only have a few days, though, as our client GSPC recently demonstrated.
GSPC is a lettings agency based in Glasgow, which manages properties across the central belt. It has been in business for about 11 years, and has 7 staff in total. It has been working with us since the early days of Silver Cloud.
We spoke to the founder and director, Craig McColl.
“In early March we were watching the news like everyone else,” says Craig, “and we could see that the coronavirus crisis would have a big effect on both our tenants and our landlords – which obviously means it affects us too. So we were holding our breath, but otherwise going on as normal. Like most people, we didn’t see the lockdown coming in advance. Silver Cloud did.
“About a week before it happened, we got a call from Silver Cloud asking for a meeting. When they came in, together we examined what it would mean for us if severe movement restrictions were brought in. They outlined some of the options to deal with that. Silver Cloud have always been great at helping us to keep up-to-date with ways to use new technology and save money, so there’s a lot of trust there.”
Luckily, GSPC had moved into big new premises in Glasgow three months before the lockdown started, and had taken the opportunity to upgrade their communication tech. That made it easier to adapt.
Even so, the idea of everyone working from home looked implausible to Craig at first: “We have people in all sorts of different roles: running our finances and our accounts, reception, administering properties. It all has to be tracked on our internal system. So to start with it didn’t seem possible that that could all work when everyone was in their homes.”
After exploring the options, though, it started to look much more achievable. Craig chose the cloud-based Wildix system, which allows people to do lots of different things– take and transfer calls, send direct messages, share their screens, work on documents together, and much more. And because you do it all with one tool, everything is really easy. What’s more, because it’s based in your web browser, the person you’re talking to doesn’t have to have the system, or download any software, or even sign in to anything.
On Monday 23 March, we went into GSPC’s premises and installed the system on everyone’s phones and laptops. We also made sure everyone could access GSPC’s own server remotely, as this holds the lettings package that they use to keep track of everything. Everyone took their laptops home with them. That evening, Boris Johnson announced the new restrictions. So from first thing on Tuesday, GSPC started home working.
Craig says that everyone got used to the Wildix system very quickly. “Obviously not everyone has a high level of IT literacy – I don’t! – and it’s not always easy to get used to a new system when there’s no-one there to help you. But within a few minutes everyone was logged on and working well. When someone calls, every laptop gets a notification, someone picks it up, and then deal with the query if they can or transfer it if they can’t.
The culture is still alive too, thanks to Wildix’s group chat feature. Craig says: “Everyone loves the group chat! It’s great for helping people to feel connected – which you really miss if you’ve never worked alone before – and allows us all to stay closely in touch and support each other whenever required.”
Craig is still able to lead the team effectively. “I can see everyone’s presence all the time – on a call, logged off, and so on. So it’s very easy for me to manage things. Every morning we have a group video call at which we make sure everyone’s OK and sort out what needs to be done. Then we just get on with it. We’re getting a lot more calls than usual, of course, but we can handle it. To someone looking in from the outside, we’re open as normal.”
It could have been different…
Craig’s very clear about what would have happened if GSPC hadn’t set up home working in time: “If Silver Cloud had not come in and said ‘What’s your worst-case scenario?’ and got us prepared, we’d be closed now. I’m not sure what other lettings agents are doing – people talk to each other a lot but you can never be sure how accurate the information is! A lot of places are closed. I’ve heard of a few that have just transferred the main phone line to a director’s mobile, and that person is just getting totally bombarded. Whereas by spreading all our calls out across the team we’ve ‘flattened the curve’.
“I feel very fortunate that the team at Silver Cloud were on hand to advise us and share their knowledge with us.”
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