At the onset of coronavirus, many in the title industry innovated quickly in response to the demand for contactless real estate closings. At the same time, many also adjusted to new work-from-home environments and a distributed workforce.
These new work routines are likely not going away any time soon. Recent studies from Harvard disease experts indicate that social distancing may continue well into 2022. And trends among technology, financial services, and insurance companies indicate that flexibility to work-from-home may be here to stay.
Training teams in these new routines is vital for businesses to remain competitive, but to what areas should title & escrow businesses dedicate training resources? Below are four key areas title & escrow businesses may want to consider investing their training resources in the months ahead.
While many businesses are considering remote work options for their employees, in the title & escrow industry, many functions need to be completed in an office. For example, some roles may require wire transfer equipment or check cutting equipment that can only be accessed in the office. The title & escrow industry will need to prepare their employees for a return to the workplace in some capacity.
Updated workplace safety training should include information on the new policies and protocols put into place after COVID-19. These may include:
- Guidelines around social distancing. This includes reconfiguration of workspaces, limiting the number of individuals to a space, and any new protocol around staggered shifts or meal periods)
- New procedures around cleaning and disinfecting. This includes enhanced cleaning protocols for high-touch areas and disinfecting measures for in-person signings.
- Rules around personal protective equipment (PPE): If face coverings, gloves or other PPE is mandatory in your office, you’ll need to adequately prepare employees for these policies and why they exist. For example, in some states such as California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, public orders mandate face coverings.
Technology and RON eClosings
According to ALTA data collected in April 2020, 21% of title companies offered remote online notarization (RON) closings and 16% offered remote ink-signed notarization (RIN) closings options to their clients.
The drive toward digital closing options is not just a trend either. Experts in the digital closing space including Qualia CEO, Nate Baker, say that adoption of remote closings will continue to grow in the months ahead. The key reason this trend likely won’t go away? “Consumer demand is actually driving this change where it wasn’t before,” Baker said at the during a recent Inman Connect Now panel.
RON eClosings require coordination and skillful digital communication. Adequately preparing staff to successfully complete these types of transactions will require robust training.
These learning programs may include:
- Technology training. Businesses must adopt technology platforms that meet state-level regulatory requirements for RON. (Such as the ability to record and store notarization sessions and the ability to perform knowledge-based-assessments to verify the identity of signers.) These platforms will require employee training so that the transaction runs smoothly and to ensure that the closings are completed in accordance with the law.
- Digital communication best practices. Remote real estate transactions require distant communication. This includes phone calls, video calls, emails, text messages, and secure portal communication (such as through Qualia Connect). Employees will need to be trained on best practices for communicating and maintaining customer relationships with digital tools.
- RON eClosing protocols. The steps to complete a RON transaction are different than an in-person transaction. It’s critical that employees are effectively trained and knowledgeable so they do not miss any important state-enforced requirements.
Technology training costs can be greatly reduced by partnering with software providers that offer software learning programs. Qualia offers its users a program called Qualia University. Through Qualia University, users can access unlimited, self-paced training videos to master their software and gain other valuable skills to handle digital transactions.
In April, the FBI released a warning that business email compromise (BEC) schemes were expected to increase during COVID-19. Another recent study indicated that employees who receive BEC scams generally take the bait. The survey indicated that 58% of business executives said suspicious emails increased in the past year and nearly half of employees responded to these BEC scams by sending company funds.
The general uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 is likely to persist, and new uncertainties are likely to emerge. As employees adopt new technologies to handle digital transactions, cybercriminals may be on the lookout for opportunities to take advantage of uncertainty.
Title & escrow businesses must consistently train employees on new security threats as they emerge. This requires ongoing security training that empowers and motivates employees to adopt daily security habits. (For more on creating a culture of security click here.)
Anxiety surrounding coronavirus is very real. A recent poll found that most Americans believe there will be a second wave of COVID-19. These worries create general unrest that manifests itself in many ways including how people interact at work as well as their productivity.
Employers can get ahead of this by offering workplace training that supports personal wellbeing. A few areas employers may consider offering resources are:
- Mindfulness and meditation. Consider bringing in experts to provide in-person or remote training to help employees discover stress-relieving practices such as meditation, yoga, or simple breathing exercises.
- Financial wellness. Offer learning materials or invite an expert to speak on personal finance to help employees feel secure and empowered during uncertain times.
- Interpersonal skills. Provide workshops on handling conflict in the workplace. Trainings often provide frameworks for employees to work through differences of opinion together and find solutions that result in better workplace relationships and overall collaboration.
For more information on building a training program that meets your business needs and budget, click HERE to access our eGuide “Leading Teams Through Change: How to Create an Effective Training Program.”