The end of the pandemic is in sight. News of faster than expected vaccine rollouts, falling case numbers and the lifting of some restrictions gives the whole country hope for the end of a time many of us are dying to leave behind. While we hope for a return to normal, so much has changed in the way the mortgage industry works now that there will certainly be some noticeable differences when mortgage professionals come back to the office.
To find out what mortgage professionals can expect when offices reopen and what mortgage companies are now offering their employees, MPA spoke to Larry Silver (pictured), CEO of Superus Careers and a 20-year mortgage veteran. He explained some of the things we have already seen in relation to office reopenings and expectations for remote and personal work, highlighting how the flexibility of working arrangements that are typical of the pandemic has affected mortgages – will affect labor markets. He also noted how keen some companies and employees are interested in getting back to the office and partaking in the energy and culture that initially made their workplace exciting.
“It’s role-based, but a lot of companies have started sharing their game reopening plans,” said Silver. “The industry as a whole has recognized that there is good talent outside of its geographic areas. They made an early decision that they would hire people to stay away all day, especially after seeing how productive we can be in a remote world.
“I think about half of the people look forward to getting back into the office, but the other half are looking for remote opportunities because they have found that they are very productive and enjoy the environment. Some people start their job search after realizing they will be back in the office in two months. “
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Silver believes a hybrid model is likely to emerge. The processing and maintenance staff will likely stay further away as their work is a little more individual. Conversely, sales and origination teams tend to go to the office. Sales teams often thrive on an office culture and rely on working together. In Silver’s experience, it’s the creators who are most likely to be interested in getting back to the office.
The reopening of offices also offers the opportunity to align new employees with the processes of the company. Silver noted that while companies hired new employees to work in remote roles, they may have worked on different systems or service standards. Returning to the office may provide an opportunity to compensate for the remote settings issues.
The office itself will likely look different too. Silver noted that the “sardine can” model of tightly packed rows of cabins is likely to be abandoned. It’s more likely that offices will be open plan, with more space between staff and more communal space for meetings and collaboration. When offices reopen, customers will likely come in for visits. Even as cases are receding, signs of COVID vigilance are key to maintaining comfort. Things like non-invasive temperature checks upon entry show customers and employees that their wellbeing is still a top priority.
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Silver assumes that flexibility on the sales side will also be a hallmark of our new offices. Four- and three-day in-office working weeks are becoming the norm and give employees the energy boost for collaborative office work, whereby a Friday commute can easily be skipped. While much remains uncertain, Silver is particularly confident that after the offices reopen and the pandemic that is really behind us, mortgage professionals will take the first step.
“I think they’ll just jump right back in the saddle,” said Silver. “This business is so fast and so busy that I don’t think there will be a big change when they return. You will just jump in and get to work. “