Remote work in real estate: JLL responds to crisis with connection

Workfront customer JLL's Elizabeth Volini

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all suddenly found ourselves coping with uncertain times and major disruptions to how we live and work. People and businesses are having to pivot quickly, establish and adapt to new routines, and find new ways to manage work at home.

But how does a heavily impacted company like JLL, a world leader in commercial real estate services, maintain business continuity in an unprecedented era of work disruption?

Locked down in Chicago, Elizabeth Volini—JLL Technologies Enterprise PMO Lead—sat down with us via Zoom to share JLL’s inspiring response to the coronavirus crisis.

Elizabeth also shared how she’s helping her team work boldly together—even through business disruption—by embracing overnight changes to the new reality of work. Here’s how JLL as a company, and Elizabeth as leader, are keeping connected during the fast-moving days of COVID-19.

JLL’s people-first response sets the tone: transparency.

JLL is thoroughly invested in staying connected to and communicating transparently with their employees during this time of major change in the workforce. Leadership recently published  COVID-19: Global Real Estate Implications, a report on navigating their new normal as a global organization with more than 95,000 employees.

Focused on global real estate markets, the report offers a path to solving some of the problems we are all experiencing. It also discusses how this pandemic will be a catalyst for remote working to become a more entrenched part of working life, improving both well-being and productivity over the near and long term. The company has taken a clear stance on supporting remote work, making sure their employees can socially distance themselves while continuing to work, with the supplies they need to do their jobs. It’s all part of JLL’s people-first approach to both work and crisis management.

Embrace the new normal by moving from response to resilience.

JLL is addressing business continuity head-on, cultivating resilience amidst challenges for employees, clients, and stakeholders alike. Elizabeth and her team are a great example, as they’ve become even more productive—on the right work—since the virus hit.

Blending personal and work life brings teams closer together, builds camaraderie amidst crisis.

JLL's Elizabeth Volini quote about the importance of feeling a sense of control through work

They've broken through the barrier between work-life balance, with kids and cats (like Elizabeth’s 18 lb. cat Pumpkin and her 5-year-old daughter) now embraced as part of everyday life on the job.

“My daughter came in during one of our team meetings to show us all her math homework and everyone applauded,” Elizabeth recalls with a chuckle. “Prior to this new normal, something like that would’ve been embarrassing. People would’ve cringed. Now, we all laugh together. We feel a lot more like friends than colleagues now as we look under the hoods of all our daily lives: We’re sharing pictures of what’s behind us on our webcams, what’s happening in our kitchens or living rooms when we change locations. It’s brought us closer together. It’s also made us more productive because we’ve become more fluid.”

Being able to focus on work also gives people a satisfying feeling that they’re exercising healthy control in an important aspect of their lives when so much going on today is out of their hands.

“I watched Frozen 2 with my daughter recently and, in one part of the movie, Olaf the philosopher snowman says, ‘We’re calling this controlling the things we can when things feel out of control.’ I think we can all appreciate how true that is now. Our current situation is driving more productivity, but it's also a fearful time because we’re unable to control or predict the reality of what's happening around us.”

5 tips for remote work success.

Elizabeth shared her 5 tips to control what we can (as Olaf suggests) when it comes to remote work. She’s had time to refine them, since her team has been working remotely for some time, even before the pandemic. These are the cornerstones of how Elizabeth’s team keeps themselves productive, staying the course and adapting to market changes—without getting burnt out and overwhelmed.

  1. Turn on your camera for every meeting. It breaks down the sense of isolation and facilitates non-verbal communication.
  2. Let humanity in. Start every meeting by asking how people are feeling, checking in, and acknowledging what people are going through.
  3. Embrace the silly. Elizabeth’s team tells dad jokes, coordinates themed dress days (matching t-shirts, anyone?) and plays a quiz every Friday.
  4. Reach out to five people per day. This has made a huge impact on Elizabeth’s team members because it’s built a connection and helped people break through isolation.
  5. Make time for self care. “As work days become more fluid and family constantly surrounds us, we have to think about our own mental and physical health,” Elizabeth says. Take lunch breaks, establish a routine, and carve out time to consciously not work.
A screeshot of a team retrospective meeting conducted with Zoom

Elizabeth's team virtual retrospective meeting

To help them be even more successful, Elizabeth and her team are continuously working on improving communication and providing change management resources.

We’re so inspired to see the incredible way Workfront customers like JLL, and leaders like Elizabeth, have rallied their people together in difficult times like these. Thank you to Elizabeth for sharing a snapshot of how her team is navigating their new normal.

How are you and your company continuing to work boldly together?