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Will Voice AI be useful in the Real Estate industry?

Introduction

The rapid advancement of AI has revolutionized various industries, offering innovative solutions and streamlining processes. This transformative technology has significantly impacted voice technology, opening up new possibilities and applications.

Regarding Real Estate, many agents spend their weekends and evenings working, which is why their phones can go unanswered during those times, agents are busy. This is an obvious gap where AI could help Real Estate agents qualify buyers + help sellers fill the top of the funnel without frustrating the customer.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, including learning, reasoning, and self-correction. It plays a pivotal role in automating tasks, analyzing data, and providing insights for informed decision-making across diverse sectors.

Voice Technology

Voice technology encompasses a wide range of applications, from virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa to voice-activated devices and speech recognition software. Its seamless integration into daily life has transformed the way individuals interact with technology.

The Connection between AI and Voice Technology

AI serves as the driving force behind the evolution of voice technology, enhancing its capabilities and expanding its potential in various domains such as customer service, productivity enhancement, and real estate operations. The synergy between AI and voice technology continues to redefine user experiences and operational efficiency across industries.

By understanding how AI and voice technology work together, we can gain valuable insights into their combined ability to shape the future landscape of various sectors.

The Role of AI in Shaping the Future of Voice Technology

Voice AI, also known as AI voice technology, is changing the way we use technology and is becoming more and more important in our daily lives. This section will look at how Voice AI has developed and why it’s so significant, as well as its effect on customer experience and productivity.

Exploring the development and significance of Voice AI

Voice AI has come a long way since it was first introduced. It started with basic voice recognition systems that had difficulty understanding human speech accurately, but now we have advanced algorithms that can process natural language with great accuracy. Voice AI has also become more accessible to the general public, with popular voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant being widely used.

The significance of Voice AI lies in its ability to offer a more natural and easy way of interacting with devices and services. Instead of typing on a keyboard or tapping on a screen, users can simply speak commands or ask questions to get what they need. This seamless interaction makes things more convenient for everyone.

Enhancing Customer Experience with AI Receptionists

One area where Voice AI is making a big difference is customer service. Many businesses are using AI receptionists powered by Voice AI technology to handle customer inquiries, provide information, and even assist with basic transactions. These virtual receptionists are available 24/7, respond instantly, and offer consistent service.

By using Voice AI, businesses can improve their customer experience by providing personalized interactions that feel like talking to a real person. For example, an AI receptionist can greet customers by name, answer common questions, give product suggestions based on preferences, and even schedule appointments. This level of personalization not only makes customers happier but also helps businesses save time and money by reducing the need for human workers in repetitive tasks.

Boosting Productivity with AI Assistants

Voice AI isn’t just useful for customer service – it can also help us be more productive. AI assistants powered by Voice AI technology can handle many different tasks, such as setting reminders, managing schedules, doing research, and analyzing data. These assistants work like virtual personal assistants, making it easier for us to stay organized, automate routine tasks, and get information without using our hands.

For professionals in various industries, like real estate agents, having an AI assistant can be a game-changer. They can use voice commands to quickly find property information, schedule appointments, communicate with clients, and manage their daily tasks more efficiently. With the ability to do multiple things at once and deal with complex questions, AI assistants let professionals focus on important work that requires human skills.

Voice AI is changing the future of voice technology by improving customer experience with AI receptionists and boosting productivity with AI assistants. As this technology gets better over time, we’ll see even more creative uses that will transform how we use voice-controlled devices and services.

AI’s Impact on the Real Estate Industry

AI has made significant strides in various industries, and the real estate sector is no exception. With the integration of AI technology, real estate organizations can streamline processes, enhance productivity, and improve customer experiences. Here are some key points to consider regarding AI’s impact on the real estate industry:

Analyzing the Use Cases of AI in Real Estate

AI offers numerous applications in real estate, revolutionizing the way properties are bought, sold, and managed. For instance:

  • Chatbots powered by AI can assist potential buyers in answering their queries and providing relevant property information.
  • AI-powered virtual tour platforms enable potential buyers to explore properties remotely, saving time and effort.
  • Predictive analytics algorithms can analyze market trends and predict property values, helping investors make informed decisions.

Predictions for the Future: AI’s Dominance in the Industry by 2024

Experts predict a significant surge in the reliance on AI technology within the real estate industry. By 2024:

  • AI is expected to play a crucial role in automating repetitive tasks such as paperwork, data entry, and lead generation.
  • Virtual assistants powered by AI will become commonplace, assisting real estate agents with scheduling appointments, managing client databases, and providing personalized recommendations.

Highlighting Keller Williams’ Innovation in the Form of an AI Virtual Assistant

Keller Williams, a prominent real estate company, has embraced AI technology to enhance its operations. Their AI virtual assistant named Kelle assists agents with various tasks such as market analysis, lead generation, and transaction management. Kelle leverages machine learning algorithms to provide tailored insights to agents, helping them make data-driven decisions.

AI’s impact on the real estate industry is undeniable. By leveraging AI for real estate purposes, organizations can improve efficiency, deliver exceptional customer experiences, and stay ahead of the competition.

Overcoming Challenges: The Path Ahead for Voice AI

Exploring the Potential and Limitations of Voice Technology in Real Estate

In the world of real estate, AI-powered voice technology has great potential to make processes more efficient and improve customer experiences. Real estate companies can use AI assistants to automate repetitive tasks, offer personalized property suggestions, and provide round-the-clock customer support. Voice AI can completely change how people search for properties by allowing them to have natural conversations, making it simpler for clients to find their dream homes.

However, we must also recognize the limitations of voice technology in real estate. Even with advancements in understanding human language and complex real estate queries, there are still challenges. While AI assistants can handle basic questions effectively, they may struggle with more detailed discussions or negotiations.

Addressing Controversies around AI-generated Vocals in the Music Industry

AI-generated vocals have both excited and caused controversy in the music industry. While AI technology makes it possible to create incredibly lifelike vocal performances, it also raises important questions about authenticity and artistic expression. Some artists see AI-generated vocals as a tool for exploring new creative possibilities, while others worry that it could diminish the value of human artistry. The debate over copyright surrounding AI-generated music is a significant aspect of this discussion.

In this ever-changing world of voice AI, overcoming these challenges will require careful thought and continuous innovation. Real estate companies need to understand the potential and limitations of voice technology while also considering ethical concerns. Likewise, the music industry is grappling with how to strike a balance between traditional artistry and technological progress. As both fields continue to develop, finding solutions to these challenges will be crucial in shaping the future of voice AI across various industries.

The Evolutionary Journey of AI Voice Assistants

Tracing the Advancements in Conversational AI from Chatbots to Voice Assistants like Siri and Alexa

The evolution of conversational AI has reached significant milestones, starting with the rise of AI-powered chatbots that laid the foundation for more sophisticated voice assistants. Chatbots initially provided basic automated responses to user queries, but their capabilities expanded rapidly with advancements in natural language processing and machine learning.

1. The Rise of Chatbots

  • Chatbots initially provided basic automated responses to user queries
  • Their capabilities expanded rapidly with advancements in natural language processing and machine learning

2. The Emergence of Advanced Language Models

Recent years have witnessed the emergence of advanced language models that have revolutionized voice AI. Models such as ChatGPT, Google Bard, and vimGPT have pushed the boundaries of conversational AI by enabling more human-like interactions and nuanced understanding of context.

This journey from rudimentary chatbots to highly advanced voice assistants highlights the remarkable progress in AI’s ability to understand and respond to human language, paving the way for a future where seamless human-machine communication becomes increasingly indistinguishable from human-human interaction.

Future Horizons: What Lies Ahead for AI In Real Estate

Examining Cutting-edge Research in the Field of Voice AI

Ishan Shah, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, has been making significant strides in the development of GPT-4V, an advanced version of the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) language model specifically tailored for voice applications in real estate. This cutting-edge research holds the potential to revolutionize how voice AI is utilized within the real estate industry. GPT-4V could enable more natural and contextually relevant interactions between AI systems and real estate clients, ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience.

Insights from Real Estate Industry Experts on the Future Trajectory of Voice AI

Real estate industry experts are increasingly recognizing the transformative potential of voice AI in shaping the future of their sector. With a focus on enhancing customer engagement and streamlining operations, voice AI is poised to become an indispensable tool for real estate professionals.

Apple’s director of AI research Ruslan Salakhutdinov’s perspective

Apple’s director of AI research, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, has been vocal about the pivotal role that voice AI will play in redefining how real estate organizations interact with clients and manage their internal processes.

Through continued innovation and collaboration with industry leaders, voice AI is set to unlock new opportunities and efficiencies within the real estate landscape.

Conclusion

AI has emerged as a catalyst for innovation in voice technology across various sectors. From customer experience enhancement to boosting productivity, AI has played a significant role in shaping the future of voice technology. As we have explored in this article, AI receptionists and assistants have revolutionized industries by providing seamless interactions and personalized experiences.

In the real estate industry, AI has enabled numerous advancements and use cases. With AI virtual assistants, real estate organizations can automate tasks, provide 24/7 support, and streamline operations. Snapsonic AI is a solution that empowers real estate organizations with its cutting-edge technology and comprehensive features.

Looking ahead, the future trajectory of voice AI holds immense potential. Researchers like Ishan Shah at Carnegie Mellon University are pushing the boundaries with projects like GPT-4V. Real estate industry experts, including Apple’s director of AI research Ruslan Salakhutdinov, provide valuable insights into the evolving landscape of voice AI.

As we move forward, it is crucial to address challenges and controversies surrounding voice technology. While there are limitations to overcome, the generative AI boom continues to drive innovation. Voice assistants like Siri and Alexa have evolved from simple chatbots to sophisticated language models.

AI remains at the forefront of voice technology innovation. Its impact on industries such as real estate is undeniable. To leverage the benefits of AI-powered voice technology, readers are encouraged to explore solutions like Snapsonic AI – Your Voice in Real Estate — a powerful tool for real estate organizations seeking to optimize their operations and enhance customer experiences.

“The future is not just about web browsing AI assistants or open-source software—it’s about creating seamless user experiences through AI-powered voice helpers.” – VisualWebArena

By embracing AI and its capabilities, organizations can unlock new possibilities and stay ahead in an increasingly competitive market.

Book a meeting with Snapsonic and discover how we can transform how your real estate organization integrates AI to win new business today!

AI Agency projects

The Power of AI Automation in Business How AI Agency Projects Can Drive Efficiency and Innovation

Introduction

In the ever-evolving landscape of business and technology, the quest for efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and innovation has never been more crucial. As businesses of all sizes seek ways to streamline operations, one solution is increasingly taking center stage: AI Automation Agencies.

The Role of AI Automation Agencies

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation technologies are rapidly transforming industries, enabling organizations to do more with less, make data-driven decisions, and stay competitive in a digital-first world. AI Automation Agencies play a significant role in harnessing the power of AI and automation to optimize and automate various aspects of a business’s operations.

Defining AI Automation Agencies

An AI Automation Agency is a specialized organization that leverages AI and automation technologies to design and implement solutions that optimize and automate various aspects of a business’s operations. These agencies focus on delivering tangible results, from reducing operational costs to enhancing productivity and customer experiences.

Why Your Business Needs an AI Automation Agency

Cost Efficiency

AI Automation Agencies are experts in identifying manual and resource-intensive processes that can be automated. By implementing AI-driven solutions, businesses can significantly reduce operational costs while maintaining or even improving quality.

Streamlined Operations

These agencies can streamline complex workflows, reducing errors and inefficiencies. This leads to smoother, faster, and more reliable processes, ultimately benefiting both your employees and customers.

Data-Driven Decision Making

AI Automation Agencies help businesses harness the power of data. They design systems that collect, analyze, and provide actionable insights from vast datasets, enabling informed and strategic decision-making.

Scalability

As your business grows, so do its operational challenges. AI Automation Agencies can create scalable solutions that adapt to your evolving needs, ensuring your systems remain efficient and effective.

Competitive Advantage

In today’s fast-paced markets, staying competitive means embracing innovation. AI Automation Agencies can help you stay ahead of the curve by implementing cutting-edge technologies tailored to your industry.

Enhanced Customer Experiences

By automating routine tasks and providing data-driven insights, AI solutions can enable personalized customer interactions, leading to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The Path to Digital Transformation with an AI Automation Agency

The journey toward digital transformation starts with understanding your unique business needs and objectives. An AI Automation Agency partners with you to tailor solutions that align with your goals, ensuring a seamless transition to a more efficient and data-driven future.

Conclusion

In conclusion, an AI Automation Agency isn’t just a technology provider; it’s a strategic partner on your path to growth and efficiency. By harnessing the power of AI and automation, these agencies empower businesses to thrive in an increasingly digital world. With their expertise in cost efficiency, streamlined operations, data-driven decision making, scalability, competitive advantage, and enhanced customer experiences, AI Automation Agencies can drive efficiency and innovation in your business. Partnering with an AI Automation Agency is a step towards embracing the power of AI and automation to optimize your operations and stay ahead in the digital era.

AI Agency trends

AI Agency Trends

At Snapsonic, we pride ourselves on constantly staying on top of new trends, technologies, and research to provide our clients with the most cutting-edge service. We like to think we’re early adopters of many new trends and tactics, like being one of the first agencies to offer social media services back in the 2000s or jumping into TikTok advertising early on to test and experiment.

So why should adopting AI be any different? The reason — it’s a little scary. Will it replace our jobs, will clients take some work in-house, and most importantly, what are the legal implications?

While many around the agency have been tinkering with different forms of AI for our clients over the past few years, we haven’t yet fully embraced our new robot overlords, so we took part in a recent AI conference hosted by Mirren to learn what more, if anything, we could/should be doing for our clients.

(Note – we used ChatGPT as a starting point to generate the below content based on bullet points of key takeaways from Snapsonic employees. Extensive revisions and editing took place, but we have found that AI writing tools provide a good starting point.)

The Power of Prompting: Shaping AI’s Potential

The heart of effective AI utilization lies in the art of prompting. How we interact with AI systems determines the quality of their output. ChatGPT said, “it’s akin to learning a new language—one that amplifies human ingenuity rather than replacing it.” It may be a stretch to compare it to learning a new language, but it’s clear that AI can’t fully operate without a human touch in the short-term. By mastering the nuances of prompting, agencies can harness the full potential of AI to drive innovation and creativity.

In the agency world, there is a sense of apprehension around AI. The rise of these new tools has sparked fear, uncertainty, and doubt among industry professionals. But rather than shying away from this technological advancement, it’s time for advertising agencies to dive in headfirst. Embracing AI isn’t just an option—it’s a necessity for survival in an ever-evolving landscape.

Despite its promise, AI isn’t without its pitfalls. Agencies and their clients must navigate legal considerations, from copyrights and trademarks to confidentiality and accuracy. From privacy considerations to user consent, agencies must tread carefully. Addressing these issues head-on is crucial to building trust and maintaining credibility in the eyes of consumers and regulators alike.

One speaker at the conference answered a participant’s question: “Do we and our clients own work generated from AI?” His response, “Our lawyers say no.” There are numerous articles that try and address what is owned by the client, the agency, the AI programs, etc., but the general answer is, “no one really knows who can own credit.”

AI as an Efficiency Tool: Enhancing Human Creativity

Contrary to popular belief, AI isn’t here to steal jobs—it’s here to assist them and make them more efficient (at least in the short-term). By accelerating workflows and streamlining processes, AI empowers agencies to deliver client requests more efficiently than ever before. This newfound efficiency frees up valuable time and resources, allowing human creativity to flourish and allowing the focus to be on strategy.

AI Agency trends can significantly impact the way advertising agencies operate. By leveraging AI tools, agencies can automate repetitive tasks, analyze data at scale, and generate insights that drive more effective campaigns. AI acts as a force multiplier, amplifying human capabilities and enabling agencies to deliver higher quality work in less time.

Hands-On Learning and Collaboration: Embracing the Future Together

The best way to understand AI is through hands-on experience. By experimenting with AI tools and collaborating with peers, agencies can unlock new insights and possibilities. Whether it’s joining online communities or attending workshops, embracing AI is a collective effort that benefits us all.

Agencies need to foster a culture of continuous learning and encourage their teams to embrace the potential of AI. Through collaboration and knowledge-sharing, agencies can stay ahead of the curve and effectively integrate AI into their workflows. This collaborative approach allows for the exchange of ideas, best practices, and lessons learned, ultimately driving innovation and growth within the industry.

AI Tools shared during the Mirren Conference

Below is a sample of AI tools available for different needs, but this list is changing constantly as more and more companies are coming out with their own platforms.

  • ChatGPT: A language model that can assist in generating content and answering questions.
  • OpenAI: Provides AI-powered solutions for natural language processing and generation.
  • IBM Watson: Offers a range of AI-powered tools for data analysis, language processing, and decision-making.
  • Google Cloud AI: Provides a suite of AI tools and services for various applications, including image recognition and natural language understanding.
  • Salesforce Einstein: Offers AI-powered marketing and sales automation tools.
  • Adobe Sensei: Employs AI to enhance creative workflows and deliver personalized experiences.

Agencies should explore these tools and evaluate their suitability for their specific needs. It’s important to stay updated on new advancements and tools in the AI space as they emerge, as they can provide significant value and competitive advantage for agencies and their clients.

Agency-Client Dynamics in the AI Era: Adapting to Change

As AI tools continue to evolve, so too must the relationships between agencies and their clients. From pricing models to privacy considerations, agencies must navigate new terrain with confidence and agility. Embracing AI isn’t just about adopting new technology—it’s about forging stronger, more dynamic partnerships. Making sure there is transparency in the work and communication for how and when it’s being used will be the most important things as we navigate these changes.

AI has the potential to revolutionize the way agencies and clients collaborate. By leveraging AI tools, agencies can provide clients with deeper insights, more accurate targeting, and personalized experiences. However, it’s important to establish clear guidelines and expectations regarding the use of AI in client campaigns. This includes transparency in data collection and usage, as well as ensuring compliance with privacy regulations.

Embracing the Inevitable: The AI Train is Coming

The pace of AI evolution is rapid, and it’s important to start adapting now. Those who embrace AI will have an edge, while those who resist risk being left behind. By staying ahead of the curve and embracing the inevitable, agencies can future-proof their businesses and seize new opportunities for growth.

AI is not a passing trend—it’s a transformative force that will continue to shape the advertising industry. Agencies that embrace AI early on will be better positioned to capitalize on its potential and gain a competitive advantage. This requires a proactive approach, including investing in AI talent, developing AI strategies, and staying informed about the latest advancements in the field.

By embracing AI as a transformative force for good, advertising agencies can unlock new levels of creativity, efficiency, and effectiveness. It’s not about fearing the future—it’s about shaping it together, one innovative idea at a time. The AI revolution is here—and there’s no stopping it.

Digital Marketing, privacy

Remote Work in 2020

The state of remote work and distributed workforce strategies

The reality of commercial office space in 2020

Most business owners will agree that it’s become much harder to justify paying the increasingly exorbitant lease rates for office space in most major cities in North America. Even Canada isn’t exempt.

Once a haven for US companies looking to hire cheaper Canadian labor, Vancouver now has the lowest commercial vacancy rate. To add insult to injury, it also has the highest price of gasoline in North America.

CBRE’s Canada Q2 Quarterly Statistics Report said that downtown Vancouver’s office vacancy rate was 2.6 percent in 2019’s second quarter, down from 4.7 percent one year previously, making it the hottest commercial office space market in North America on par with Toronto, beating out 3rd place San Francisco, where the vacancy rate is 3.6 percent.

Coworking Growth

Growth in commercial office space worldwide is also being spurred by coworking. We now see coworking facilities in a large number of major cities across the globe, although the number of new coworking space openings does appear to be slowing down when compared to the previous year.

Our projections show that in 2019 growth will be slower than the previous year, although the industry continues to grow at a strong pace. While most of the industry growth can be attributed to new spaces, a large portion is owed to existing spaces diversifying their services or acquiring businesses, and expanding into smaller, niche markets that generally have stronger, more close-knit communities. — Coworking resources

Coworking is obviously not free. It does reduce the overhead and headache of having to manage your own office (lease, insurance, maintenance, etc) but if and organization made use of coworking facilities full-time, it could likely be more expensive than a comparable stand-alone office space, per square foot.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that not only are office spaces getting harder to find, but they are also the most expensive they ever have been. For staff, who are interested in raising a family, getting them to this expensive office is also costly. This sounds like a lose-lose proposition, why are we doing this again?

Coworking + remote work | FTW!

Unsurprisingly, IT organizations and software organizations that have no real need for dedicated physical locations appear to be shuttering offices and opting for coworking + remote work models.

Automattic, Gitlab, Shopify (just to name a few) have successfully made this transition, in fact, some of these companies were purposefully built as distributed companies from the get-go.

Various reports and studies have been done which seem to indicate that everyone wants to work from home. In a recent study, Buffer published the State of Remote Work where 2,500 remote workers surfaced some interesting statistics:

  • 99% of all respondents said they wanted to work remotely, in some capacity.
  • Younger generations are 28% more likely to utilize remote work than older generations. — Upwork, 2019
  • 73% of all teams will have remote employees by 2028, because of the influx of Gen Zers in the coming years. — Upwork, 2019

Zapier has also published a report(*) on the subject and the findings are quite similar in that it points to knowledge workers’ desire to work remotely:

  • 95 percent of U.S. knowledge workers want to work remotely, and 74 percent would be willing to quit a job to do so.
  • 26 percent of knowledge workers have quit a job because the company did not offer the option to work remotely/flexible work schedule
  • Remote work is a highly desired perk. Nearly 3 in 5 knowledge workers (57 percent) say the option to work remotely is one of the perks they’d most prefer to be offered by an employer.
    (That’s more than free daily lunch (42 percent) and unlimited vacation time (39 percent). Only one quarter (25 percent) cited recreational activities, like ping pong or foosball.)
  • Almost a third of Millennial knowledge workers (31 percent), and more than a quarter of Gen X work (27 percent) remotely full-time. Only 11 percent of Baby Boomers do.

Microsoft (Japan) is also researching work routines and recently published findings on a 4 day work week experiment, which increased productivity by up to 39.9%. This could very well increase even more if they adopted a virtual coworking model for the other 4 days.

Concerns

Now that we have set the stage for what looks to be an unstoppable trend, let’s take a look at why this is not a no-brainer.

I interviewed a few companies (ranging from small to large) and asked them what their position was with remote work in mind. Some business owners and team members expressed concerns.

  • Security & Legacy Tech —If a company has previously built out systems it could be quite expensive and time-consuming to move to a secure cloud model. This move might require a large investment to get to a similar level of security that they already have, especially if the desire is to not use VPNs or IP tunnels. Even if the company is ok with VPNs, now IT has to manage that new asset, which doesn’t come for free.
  • FOMO — The fear of missing out, is a big one for team members. Many employees that have not worked remotely before quickly develop a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). If conversations were missed, it causes a feeling of exclusion and can impact productivity and morale.
  • Comradeship — Developing a positive team spirit is hard to do if team members never spend face time with each other. Humans are social animals, if we remove this face-to-face time, culture tends to be rather flaccid.
  • Distractions — Some professionals have not enjoyed very much success when working from home. Some remote workers state there are too many distractions and they do not have a quiet place they can go to escape these distractions in their home. Speaking from experience, this is especially true for working parents.
  • Time Zones — Spanning timezones where workers are on the opposite side of the continent or planet requires good planning and diligent project management, especially if the teams are larger. This can be a daunting task for a shop that has never done it before. Teamwork may take a hit if those in the remote time zones are few and far between, as they might not be communicating with each other or with domestic teams as regularly as you would like.
https://buffer.com/state-of-remote-work-2019

Some of these concerns are legitimate and it could be they will not be overcome with even the best remote work processes.

Case in point — In 2012, Marissa Mayer was hired as CEO of Yahoo! and was charged to return the former powerhouse to its glory days. Among the many things she had to fix were company culture and productivity. According to sources closer to Yahoo!, it was made clear that many of those working at the company were not getting their jobs done when working from home. A review of VPN logins and source repository access logs surfaced a gap in the lack of work being accomplished while Yahoo! staff were working from home.

In 2013, an internal letter was issued, the company mandated that remote work was to be all but banned. Here is an excerpt from that letter…

To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

Some of Mayer’s staff, the press, and many other groups let her have it, no one seemed to be impressed. It could be said that Mayer had little choice. She had to do whatever she could to turn the company around and for her, that meant taking some drastic measures. In a Forbes post, Yahoo! commented further…

“This isn’t a broad industry view on working from home — this is about what’s right for Yahoo, right now.”

At first blush, it would seem this was more about timing and the position Yahoo! found themselves in at the time. They did what they thought needed to be done to influence behavior.

This seems like an extreme case, but the same sentiment can be found in other IT and SaaS organizations worldwide. In fact, some of these companies are the creators of communications software and services we use for remote work every day. In fact, they openly promote the “work from anywhere” mantra in their own product marketing. It might seem a little hypocritical, but it is happening for many of the same reasons we have shown.

Remote Work — Benefits

Now that we have heard the concerns, let’s talk about the potential upside. Here are some high-level benefits:

  • Reduction in Overhead — This one is rather obvious, but it goes further than just nixing the lease cost for the office space. If there is no office, there is now no longer a requirement for furniture, desks, lunchrooms, bike rooms, office snacks, bought lunches, office insurance and much more. Depending on the size of your business, savings could be significant.
  • Sans Commute — Most staffers love the idea of working from home, especially if they have been successful in doing it at previous jobs. This means spending less time on the road, more time working and less time away from their family. It also means cash savings as they no longer have to pay for transit passes, gas, insurance or parking for their vehicles.

One in four knowledge workers find their commute to be among the most stressful parts of their job.*

  • Choose your Location — Since location matters less in a delocated organization, team members are generally encouraged to live wherever they want, as long as they can get good Internet, power and work effectively with their peers. They are no longer tied to living in expensive larger cities where the cost of living precludes them from buying a home. This should also contribute to happier team members in general.

Obviously, these benefits can contribute to a more attractive and economical approach to building a business, as long as you can overcome the concerns.

Taking the plunge

If you are still with me and undeterred, you are not alone. Personally, I have been working remotely 100% for several years in various roles with teams all over the world. I have learned a few things along the way. Here are the cliff notes.

Remote Work Guide: A good place to start is by creating a “remote work guide” document that embodies some or all of the elements listed here along with your own spin on things. Your teams may not have experienced working remotely before, they will need some guidance and direction, this is also where we set expectations eg. working hours, always-on video, etc. It could be an addendum to your existing company handbook or a completely new document, keep in mind it will grow with your company. (Note: Many miss this step and it’s likely the single most important contributing factor to a successful remote work strategy for your company or organization.)

Small Teams: You are going to need some time to plan your rollout and decide which processes and tools are going to work best for your various teams. When your teams are first getting started, parcel off smaller project teams that are tech-savvy and preferably have experience using online collaboration tools. Their experience will pave the way for everyone else. Once you have a good process that seems to be working, you can roll it out in stages for everyone else.

Always-on Video Conferencing: This may sound a bit creepy but it can actually be quite effective in preserving team spirit, fending off FOMO and helping with the isolation that some feel when working remotely. It can be done in pairs, teams or even using a water cooler approach where team members drop in and out during the day. You can even use it to bridge branch offices, like a window into each remote office. Let’s be honest, organizations are going to see a bit more opposition when introducing this concept, it will need to be actively managed. As the business leader, you will need to actively work with team members to encourage participation (eg. by leading a weekly all-hands meeting or asking them to join or lead regular video calls, etc). If managed properly this idea can be a great communications centerpiece.

Weekly all-hands Video Conference: This is less about remote work and just good business practice. I have seen this work well in traditional and remote businesses, but few business leaders do it. Weekly highlights are shared by the CEO with support from other leaders in the organization. A master slide deck is prepared in Google Slides, with input from various departments. Friday afternoons are a good time as it ends the week on a high note (and serious note if things need attention) and helps start the next week off with a positive sentiment.

Coworking Passes: In addition to virtual coworking, it’s a good idea to include at least one or two days a week of onsite coworking for those that feel they need to get out of the house and be around other professionals. This has been widely adopted by some of the larger distributed organizations. Going completely virtual can be a bit of a shock to the system, this helps ease the transition and keeps everyone feeling like they are still human.

Offsite Team Events: With the reduction or elimination of in-person face time, team-building exercises now become more important. Organize quarterly or semi-annual gatherings at your favorite coworking establishment or pick a fun recreational location. If your company is large enough, you can divide these meets into geographical pods. Schedule at least one all-hands meeting per year with some fun events to ensure everyone feels like they are part of the organization. Do yourself a favor and don’t leave this to the last minute, you will have a poor turnout, piss people off and defeat the purpose.

Collaboration, Productivity & Automation Tools

There are literally dozens of team collaboration tools you can use to empower your remote workers. Try as many as you can. Select tools that are intuitive and self-explanatory, this will cut down on the learning curve. Make sure the vendors you select provide mobile support so your teams can be connected via phone or tablet.

Here are some that I have used and have found work well for remote teams, in no particular order:

  • Cloud business phone system with SMS:
    Google Voice, Dialpad or roll your own by using CPaaS & WebRTC eg. SignalWire — (btw, I work here).
  • Cloud storage, word processing, spreadsheets, slide decks:
    Google G-suite, Microsoft Office 365
  • Text-based team collaboration
    Slack
  • Software source repo and issue tracker
    Jira & Github
  • Task Management
    Trello, Wrike
  • Video & Web conferencing
    Zoom, Hangouts
  • Support
    Zendesk
  • Sales CRM
    Salesforce
  • Product Management
    Product Board, Trello
  • CRM and Marketing Management
    Hubspot
  • Automation
    Zapier

Virtual Coworking

As this remote work thing matures, we will see more purpose-built applications that aim to bring our teams closer together, virtually.

We are already seeing some activity in this space with the recent capital raise by Tandem, which has a sidecar collaboration application that works pretty well with Slack.

Tandem — virtual coworking app

Another is Sococo, which looks more like a virtual workspace with web conferencing. They take an interesting approach to how they visualize the virtual office and how team members work together. I actually think this is an intuitive idea, although it does feel a wee bit recreational. To be fair, I have not used the service.

Sococo — virtual workspace

It is expected these solutions that personalize and aid remote teams in working better together will certainly evolve. It is still unclear if customers would opt-in for purpose-built applications or just use several disparate applications to do the same job, time will tell.

The next post will speak to the future of remote work. We will be touching on AI & bots, VR & AR in the remote work realm, some of which are being used today and some are not far off at all.


If you work in a distributed company, I’d like to hear from you. What tools do you use today and how are they working for you? How often do you use video/web conferencing as part of your daily routine? If you prefer sharing your comments or questions privately, feel free to shoot me a text message or call anytime: (877) 897–1952 (Note: All calls will be recorded).

None of the ideas expressed in this post are shared, supported, or endorsed in any manner by my employer.

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