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Back To ‘Normal’

What’s next for in-person work?

Mary Kay Scully headshot
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Mary Kay Scully
Two women tap elbows, avoiding a handshake.

The handshake is defined as a gripping and shaking of right hands by two individuals, as to symbolize greeting, congratulation, agreement, or farewell. While traditionally handshakes are widely used in a business setting, due to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year and a half, this second-nature action, among other ways of expression, has been quickly abandoned due to the concern of spreading germs and a desire to be mindful of each individual’s comfort level when it comes to physical contact. 

As more people get vaccinated and feel more comfortable venturing back out into familiar spaces, companies are beginning to reinstate in-office work, adopt hybrid work models, and/or allow business travel to resume. This means that we may want to take a look at how things have changed and how these once second-nature actions will be different moving forward.

The in-office new “normal.”

With handshakes and hugs likely at bay for a while, it’s time to figure out an alternative method of greeting. Whether it is an elbow bump or a wave from a distance, make sure you’re being respectful of others and their level of comfort. It also wouldn’t hurt to know where you land on the physical contact spectrum. 

Beyond simple greetings, now we also must look at shared spaces a bit differently. Spaces like cubicles, meeting rooms, refrigerators and water coolers require a second thought before falling back into past behaviors. Many offices may limit shared spaces such as lunchrooms, provide dividers between cubicles and require masks at all times. This means planning ahead is required for even something as simple as bringing lunch and deciding where to eat it. Although being back in the office may feel like a normal activity, don’t forget what you’ve learned during the pandemic and keep your and others’ health and safety top of mind.

What Worked During The Pandemic?

Although fully remote work was a challenge for many at first, there were some activities that excelled in a remote setting. Take training for example. Remote training not only became the safer option as close proximity and large crowds weren’t an issue, but it also allowed for more on-demand capabilities. Through video training and on-demand options, training has seen an uptick in attraction and retention. Now, employees can participate in training during a time that works best for their schedule. 

That’s not to say that live training is a thing of the past. In fact, in the first five months of this year, I have had over 10,000 folks attend my live training sessions. The point is that now trainees have options and can figure out what works best for them.

Interacting With Customers

Now that people have become more comfortable with interacting outside of Zoom and their devices, how will our customers react when going through the homebuying process? Will in-person meetings happen again? And, if so, how will they look? Will documentation and applications revert to physical form or remain digital? How will closings work? 

Over the past year and a half, the act of buying, selling, and facilitating a home loan has completely changed. From appraisals to closings, everything has pretty much changed to a remote or digital setting to the best of its abilities. However, as we get closer to pre-pandemic normalcy how do these interactions change?

It comes down to the customer and your organization. Some customers may be more involved and prefer in-person interactions, with physical documents and the physical exchange of keys, all traditional aspects of buying a home. Especially with a booming housing market, interactions, home sales and purchases have been handled on a case-by-case basis when it comes to interacting with others. Some may prefer to interact digitally via email or text, which allows them to keep a distance they feel comfortable with. 

Whatever option the customer prefers, there are solutions for everyone and even greater flexibility now in the home buying and selling process.

Moving Forward

While there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to returning to the office and pre-pandemic activities, it has certainly made us all sit back, take stock of our actions, and helped us determine how we should interact with one another. Whether it’s something as simple as a handshake and grabbing lunch with a colleague or facilitating in-person closings with physical documents, it’s important to remember what we’ve learned throughout the pandemic, and continue putting emphasis on and thought into practicing safe measures in our interactions with each other.

Close more loans, be more efficient, stay out of trouble.

Find more at Pro School
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine July 2021 issue.
Mary Kay Scully headshot
Mary Kay Scully

Mary Kay Scully is the Director of Customer Education at Enact, leading the development of the company’s customer education curriculum. The statements in this article are solely her opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of Enact or its management. 

Published on
Jul 24, 2021
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