This post is part one of our series on remote work. For part two of the series titled “New to Remote Work? Here’s How to Set up Yourself and your Team” click here.

Remote work has been a topic of interest for the past few years among businesses looking to offer greater employee flexibility; however, the topic has gained new meaning and urgency in light of COVID-19. Businesses across the country are transitioning to remote work under new COVID-19 orders and guidelines from local governments

This rapid transition greatly impacts title & escrow businesses which almost universally operate in brick and mortar offices. While remote work may seem daunting for many of these businesses who have traditionally worked hand-in-hand with their coworkers in-person, there are a number of resources available to help title & escrow businesses maintain continuity.

Offer necessary technology and tools to work-from-home

Real estate transactions require a considerable amount of coordination and collaboration between many different stakeholders. It’s important for teams to be set up with the tools and technology they need for effective communication and continued coordination. 

Internal coordination 

When team members are working from separate locations, it can often be difficult to connect with colleagues without physical cues such as tapping someone on the shoulder or stepping into someone’s office to ask a question. There are a number of digital tools designed to empower remote teams to effectively communicate and coordinate securely. 

  1. Software features that facilitate collaboration designed to enable teamwork are especially helpful in remote work scenarios. For example, within Qualia’s platform, users can create notes anywhere within an order for their team to view. Notes can be tagged to send notifications to teammates and marked as critical if attention is needed immediately. Additionally, within Qualia’s platform, more than one individual can work on a file at any given time.  
  2. Group chat tools such as Google Chat and Slack give teams the ability to discuss topics in real-time and avoid dissecting long email chains. Within Qualia’s platform, users can leverage the secure chat functionality to communicate with an individual or group about a particular file. Messages are automatically organized by file so everyone is on the same page. 
  3. Video conferencing solutions such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, UberConference, and others offer teams the ability to connect with one another face-to-face. 
  4. Workflow management features such as Qualia’s Dynamic Workflows ensure automatic file handoffs between team members so an order can move forward promptly and efficiently. With Dynamic Workflows, title & escrow companies can assign tasks to individuals, roles or groups. Individual users can also access a dashboard where users can view all existing workflows from a single place.  

Closing tasks 

  1. E-Signing tools: Although fully-remote closings are not available in all 50 states at this time (this may change with ALTA’s effort to pass the SECURE Notarization Act in light of COVID-19), hybrid eClosings are possible in every state. With hybrid eClosings, stakeholders can electronically sign some documents ahead of the closing to reduce the number of physical touchpoints. Qualia offers e-signing features to enable hybrid eClosings which reduce the amount of time spent at the closing table. 
  2. County recorder integrations: Filing documents with the county recording office can be done without physically entering an office through software integrations that enable electronically-recorded documents. For example, Qualia customers can use Qualia’s Simplifile integration to electronically record documents with the nation’s largest network of e-recording counties. The ability to e-record documents is of course dependent upon the county recorder’s e-recording capabilities. (This resource from ALTA tracks county recording closures and e-recording capabilities across the 3000+ counties in the US.)

Business development 

When physical offices and reception desks are shut down, title & escrow businesses can use tools like Qualia Connect to receive new orders directly from clients 24/7. With tools like Qualia’s quoting feature (built directly into Connect), title & escrow businesses can instantly and automatically fulfill requests for quotes. 

Client communication 

During non-typical business operations (such as scenarios where most parties are working remotely), clients and homebuyers will likely have more questions and concerns than usual about the status of a given transaction. Tools like Qualia Connect help bring every stakeholder into one portal to exchange information, receive on demand, real-time updates, automatically tag communications to their relevant files, and access and store documents securely. Qualia’s platform also allows title & escrow businesses to send automated information requests to appropriate stakeholders as different workflow tasks are completed. 

Qualia’s platform also allows teams to set permissions which allow team members to tag their colleagues on a file for help moving a transaction forward. 

Vendor management 

Software integrations such as Qualia Marketplace enable title & escrow businesses to discover vendors, order their services, have their orders fulfilled, and manage payments efficiently and without the need for face-to-face interactions. Qualia Marketplace also enables title & escrow businesses to develop new relationships online with vendors across the country should the need arise. Each vendor has completed an official onboarding process into the Marketplace and users can see their performance ratings.

If your team is working remotely at this time, we would love to hear from you. What tips can you offer for remote work? And how is your team maintaining employee engagement and best-in-class business practices? Submit your thoughts in the form below.

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