When Did Insane Work Hours Become Normal?

Real Estate Technology with 855-419-6019

Last month, the White House made a decision to increase the income threshold under which workers qualify for overtime pay. Though this new rule may not be a particular victory for real estate agents, it points out a problem (enough where the government had to get involved): Americans are working longer hours … without the benefits.

At what point did “making it big” turn from more leisure opportunities into more work? There’s almost an unseen cultural change. Working longer hours -- having the ability to do so -- has become a sign of privilege in our society. Top performers are the people pulling in more time … punching the clock later.


But is this where the real estate industry should be?


As I hear stories from agents and brokers alike, there’s a common thread: How do I create a work-life balance? And more importantly, how do I do it when the world is so connected through mobile devices, email, and so on? Even apps like Slack and HipChat are becoming the next craze. When do we evaluate the trade-off between accessibility/service and stress/burnout?

I’ll be the first to say I don’t have answers. This is where I look forward to the comments, honestly. And as we begin that conversation, I thought I’d share some tips on managing stress, burnout, and anxiety.


Model & Encourage Best Work-Life Practices

Stress is contagious. When one team member starts to burn the midnight oil and feel anxiety about their workload, it spreads to other members. And though stress can be contagious, so can positive experiences with well-being.

A Gallup research report that surveyed 105 teams discovered when individuals who experienced well-being were 20% more likely to have other team members who reported thriving six months later.

Here’s the takeaway: By promoting activities that encourage well-being for yourself and team members … it spreads through the whole office. It helps increase productivity and performance. So, consider offering resilience training or rallying the team behind renewal activities.


Learn How BoomTown Emphasizes Teamwork


Give Time to Disconnect Outside of Work

High-performance is a mandate, not only from our bosses, but from consumers (i.e. homebuyers and sellers). People expect service at almost any time of the day. With the rigors of a “high-performance” culture and an “always connected” society, it’s easy to dictate when you should engage in work. But it’s equally important to outline when not to engage in work. No emails after 8 pm, for example.


Emphasize “Monotasking” for Better Focus

Multitasking is a myth. Our brains can’t really perform tasks simultaneously. Each time we move from hearing music to writing a text, we’re hitting a stop/start process inside our brains. Trying to multitask doubles the time it takes to do the task … and it usually creates more mistakes.

By encouraging monotasking, you can help yourself (and team members) prioritize work. You can do this by defining deliverables, goals, and milestones to hit -- and which ones are most important.


How Do You Create a Work-Life Balance?

As performance becomes more highly measured and with more emphasis on “do it now,” how do you maintain a healthy relationship with work? Do you think real estate agents should have an “off button” where they take time away from work -- or is that impossible in the heat of competition?



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Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

In real estate it is a 24/7 profession When the phone rings that may be your hour "o".  After working hard you get compensated and may be your next task comes along. If you decline opportunities in front of you there may not be enough tasks to stay occupied.

Jun 20, 2016 01:41 AM #1
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

More work, less pay, fewer promotions have been the "norm" in the corporate world for some 25 years now and the advances in technology has exacerbated this phenomenon. I retired from the corporate world in 1989 after almost 20 years and from executive management positions--we worked long hours--easily 60-65 hours/week, but without all the technology went we went home at night or for the weekend... that was pretty much if for work till the next day. And we were amazingly productive without being on call 24/7.

As for Realtors being on call 24/7, as an industry we did this to ourselves. I never tell a client I'm available 24/7 and my business has more than thrived for almost 25 years now. 

Jun 20, 2016 03:00 AM #2
Evelyn Santiago, Managing Broker Heart Realty Group, Inc.
Heart Realty Group, Inc.. - Oswego, IL
Passionate About Real Estate & Our Clients!

You have to set expectations upfront on what times you are available, how much notice you need to set-up appointments and when you will answer emails/texts, etc.  Otherwise you become tied to buyers and sellers 24/7 and the tendency to get abused for "always" being available increases.

Learned my lesson the hard way and now I let my current buyers/sellers know when I will be taking off and that I may not be available as quickly as they wish.  Have not received any negatives because of it yet!  The more we feed into the instant response especially for the millennials that are used to it the more they expect it....both sides have to respect each other's time.

Jun 20, 2016 04:28 AM #3
Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Disconnect!  Absolutely.

      My clients and customers are told up front that my phone is on from 10:00AM to 8:00PM M-F.  I work limited hours on Saturday, and take Sunday off. 

     Sure, I make rare exceptions for say, an out of state Buyer.  But I will not allow customers to dictate what my work hours are, thank you.

Jun 20, 2016 05:04 AM #4
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Agents in my office can certainly disconnect. As a broker I have a little less ability to do so with the responsibility of the actions of my agents I believe it's in the best interest of my agents, the public and my firm for me to be available at reasonable hours to answer questions for them. 

That being said, I took a wonderful 16 day vacation last fall in our slowest time of the year and had just a few phone calls when they really needed to run something by me.  I have great agents that are willing to cover for me just like I cover for them when they take time off.  

Jun 20, 2016 09:26 AM #5
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

It's not about balance it's about consistently balancing because the pursuit of balance is what drives a lot of people crazy because it doesn't actually exist. Realtors decide to work crazy hours they don't have to, I never work Sundays I have an in 10 years, and I really work past 7 PM I'm really expected to. The only ones that ever have a problem with my hours are other agents that have no control of their lives so they think no other agent should either, but since they are basically douche bags, I let them leave all their insane messages and multiple tax added some idiot text me four times on Father's Day expect me to respond I'm thinking to myself it's after 6 PM on a Sunday, it's a Sunday period, and it's freaking Father's Day!?!  I made him wait till 9 o'clock Monday morning and guess what ....everything was fine.  You only get one life, don't blow it 

Jun 20, 2016 02:17 PM #6
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

I try to be available for my customers. But I also draw the line on certain days, times and occasions. Sure I lose business but I look at it his way...my lost business is my contribution to another's success.

Jun 24, 2016 02:22 AM #7
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