Zooming into online hangouts

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COVID-19 has forced many people to become tech whizzes and never more so than when it comes to video conferencing calls. Whether it’s for get-togethers with family and friends or for professional business meetings, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts and more are now the bee’s knees for adults and kids alike.

This is particularly the case in Melbourne. While the city jumped into stage 2 of the Andrews’ government COVID-19 road map on September 28, friends and family are still only allowed to travel within 5km of their home as well as their possible workplaces, and can only meet up with five people from a maximum of two households. As a result, video conferencing calls remains the name of the COVID-19 game.

“Call me” options

Seeing loved ones and work colleagues on a computer screen will never offer the warm and friendly ambience of a face-to-face catch-up. But if the only other alternative is not seeing these people at all, video conferencing is the best substitute. Zoom has definitely come into its own with COVID-19 and is now up there with “social distancing” as an au fait word. Google Hangouts, Skype and Facetime aren’t far behind. Facebook’s Messenger app allows you to initiate a video or audio call while for Samsung-ers and similar, there is Google Duo, essentially an android version of Facetime.

Remote encounters

For real estate agents and property managers, working to hang onto personal effects plus property transactions is a daily challenge. Online auctions and appraisals are also still in place in Melbourne and other areas. Agents are acknowledging they’ve never done so many conference calls before, with one agent saying the daily personal contact environment of the sector made the current environment particularly difficult. As this same agent explained, realtors enjoy feeding off each other’s enthusiasm and energy. They love the drive of the industry and the interaction between both colleagues and clients. A Zoom or Skype call can’t provide this energy however and this is where agents can suffer.

Positive challenges

The upside to the above is that agencies are rethinking how they do business – and what works best for them and their clients. Some agents are considering continuing current changes and challenges beyond COVID-19. Others are looking forward (with crossed fingers) to the day when they can return to the office and interact one-on-one with people. At the moment, however, agents are often in the same position as their clients, working from their living room with home-schooled kids running around nearby. Both sides of the coin are learning that such situations need to be accepted as normal. Many agents are now starting client conversations by asking what video conferencing app or website their clients prefer or are familiar with, and going from there. Remember conference calls actually take more mental effort than a catch up over a coffee. Be understanding if your agent or client is not wearing a suit or is simply flustered. Home-schooling, lockdowns, and financial and personal hardships can have this effect on people! Most of all, patience and empathy go a long way in the current climes so agents and their clients are encouraged to utilise both in abundance.

Related article: 5 reasons why Zoom meetings are exhausting

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