3.25 minute read time
July 27, 2020

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Four months into our collective work-from-home experiment, and most of us are missing the office.

Ruth Fischer certainly is. As CBRE’s Managing Director, Client Solutions, and an active leader in the commercial real estate industry, Ruth thrives on human interaction: Office conversation, impromptu meetings and really getting to know clients.

And while nothing will replace the energy, buzz and connection of the office, she’s been spending the past few weeks trying to introduce spontaneity into her remote communications.

Let’s take a closer look at how she does it.

On Working from Home

“I have two small children, and a husband who works full time as well, so it hasn’t been without its challenges.

We’re lucky to work in an industry where we can do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but the benefits of an office have never been clearer. I know I’m missing the ability to concentrate, the energy I get from being around others, and a comfortable and ergonomic workspace.”

On Learning About Colleagues

“One nice thing about this situation is that it’s humanized our colleagues so much more. You get a glimpse into their real lives; you see their kids and their homes. It gives additional dimension to all of us. And I’ve been so glad when people appreciate that my daughter loves joining my Zoom calls.”

On Meaningful Communication

“While a Zoom meeting isn’t the same as a face-to-face conversation, it is still nice to see someone smile.

But sometimes, you just need a break from the screen, so I will do calls where I take a walk around the neighbourhood and that’s really nice.”

On Connecting with Clients

“It’s harder to get your personality across remotely, and we all know that people “buy” from people they like. Once the subset of people who can credibly do the job has been established, it’s all about who the client gets the best feeling from and who they want to work with.

I’ve tried to be creative where I can. We had a meet-and-greet with a client the other week and I suggested to the broker that rather than reciting our resumes, we say what our “superpowers” are to introduce ourselves at the beginning of the call. And we did it, just to introduce a little lightness.

We need to look for those informal, creative ways of engaging wherever we can.”

On Work-Life Balance

“What I’ve found during COVID is there’s a lot less balance, because you’re not working from home as much as you’re living at the office.

Being on Zoom constantly, being in constant communication – it’s exhausting. And leaves little time for important, heads-down work.

I try my best to say yes to important things, and sometimes say no. There are so many online events and learning opportunities right now, which is great, but you can only do so much. You want to avoid death by Zoom meeting.”

On Taking Time for Yourself

“We’re staying with my family right now, so we’ve got some extra support. It’s made it easier to get some exercise, even if it’s just walking around the neighbourhood.

Most importantly, I try to keep in perspective that, in so many ways, we’ve been so very, very lucky. We have our health, and that’s what’s most important.”

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