For many people, working from home is “living the dream”. You can manage your own time, will never have to face the morning commute, and can be more effective in helping clients. But for others, the idea of leaving the office is a daunting prospect. Will your work/life balance be affected? Will you miss the face-to-face interaction with colleagues? Will it be a struggle to organise your own schedule? OKAY.com manager Nina Schulte-Mattler talks us through the ups and downs of remote working, and tells us why she never wants to be tied to a desk job again.
When did you start working with OKAY.com?
I started working with OKAY.com in January 2015. Previously, I was freelancing for another real estate agency in Discovery Bay, working in a small office with a traditional set up of a fixed desk and computer. To get any work done, you had to be in the office, as that was the only place you could access the database.
What made you want to join the company?
A lovely associate director from OKAY.com saw my ad in a magazine and asked if I wanted to discuss potential work opportunities over a cup of coffee. Her enthusiasm for the company was really addictive and I went along to the head office to find out more about the company. The vibe in the office was remarkably different than that of my previous employer, as it was full of consultants from all over the world and they were all backed up by fantastic IT and customer service support teams. I was excited, I wanted a challenge and wanted the opportunity to start something new.
Did you have any worries about remote working?
Not at all! I think I get the best out of it because I have chosen to work where I live. I don’t have to commute and that gives me the opportunity to work between and around my family if I need to – so in that sense it’s the opposite of “remote”!
Is it easy enough to work around family commitments?
Definitely. Working remotely allows me to work and be a mom, both in the same place. Of course, there are always clients who will only be available at the evenings and weekends and the nature of my job is to try and suit their schedules wherever possible. But the great thing about the company is that it’s never a problem as the technology allows me to access the database on the go, so I can manage my time, getting more done.
Can you talk us through an average workday?
This will sound really boring now, but you asked for it! I get up and have breakfast with the family and prepare the snack and lunches. I take the kids to school and then come back home for a second round of coffee. Normally, I sit down and start work around 8:30am, concentrating mainly on admin early in the morning, followed by phone calls and database work. In the afternoon I normally do my field work, which includes being on the road trying to find new properties, taking photos for listings, meeting landlords, collecting keys, viewing properties with clients and so on. The goal is to get everything done by 3pm so I can collect the kids from school and spend a few hours with them.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love outdoor sports such as hiking, kayaking and jogging and I can usually fit them in around work, preferably early in the morning (OKAY.com is really supportive of this, including sponsoring our dragon boat team, the ‘German Dragons’). Then, if I’m lucky I squeeze in an hour of yoga every week too. My social life is important as well, and I often like to get away from Discovery Bay and go out for dinner or drinks with friends on Hong Kong Island.
What’s your home office set-up like?
I have my computer and my home office set up in an area of our living room, which is very quiet during school hours! Having remote access to our listings database and agent tools makes it even easier to respond quickly, regardless of where I am, so I’m not chained to my home office either.
Have you got any advice for anyone who still isn’t sure?
Choose where you want to work. Get your home set-up sorted and make sure your work environment is as comfortable as possible. Set up a network with your colleagues for interaction and support. Set a workable schedule, and try to stick to it. Trust me, you’ll never go back to the office unless you want to!
Nina is obviously thriving in this setup, and when she needs to chat with her colleagues about anything, they’re only a phone call, WhatsApp message or email away. At OKAY.com, agents who choose to work remotely have the flexibility to come in as they please, benefitting them with a fixed office that is tuned to their needs, coupled with the ability to take more control of their lives.
Contact us to schedule a confidential conversation about how OKAY.com can partner with you