Smart Apartment Solutions’ decision to transition to a remote business model was a carefully considered journey, not an overnight decision. In 2020, like many others worldwide, Smart faced significant changes due to the pandemic. Our bustling office gradually grew quieter as people adapted to remote work. When we did return to the office, it was evident that things had changed, and it prompted us to question the status quo.
As leaders, our Founder, ‘Smart Girl’ Dawn, and I recognized the challenges our Smart team faced in this new normal. Many found being away from family during these hectic times more challenging than expected. School closures and restricted public spaces added to their difficulties. It became clear that we needed to find ways to support our team.
Smart adopted a hybrid model, allowing office work two days a week and remote work three days a week. We embraced video conferencing and streamlined processes, automating tasks to enhance efficiency. We focused on a fundamental question that has driven us since our inception in 2008: Are we easy to do business with? Whenever we encountered hesitations about user-friendliness, we worked to improve our user experience.
The idea of going fully remote emerged after a few months of automation. We researched, consulted successful remote companies, and gathered insights from podcasts and books like Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere by T Neeley. With each challenge, we found solutions, gaining confidence in transitioning to remote work.
We engaged our teams in open discussions about the new business model, addressing their concerns and sharing our vision. Transparency was key, allowing us to understand their needs and provide support.
While going remote initially seemed impractical, the pandemic taught us that people craved flexibility and work-life balance. In 2021,’Smart Girl’ Makita, our Staffing Coordinator, became our first remote employee, which significantly improved her work-life balance and productivity.
In 2022, new circumstances allowed us to hire consultants who brought fresh ideas and remote work experience, reinforcing our commitment to this transition.
On December 15th, 2022, I acquired Smart, and we set out to finalize our transition. In 2023, we celebrated our 15th anniversary and welcomed two virtual assistants to our team. In a fortuitous turn, our landlord allowed us to exit our lease early, reinforcing our path.
This journey uncovered numerous opportunities and solutions. We changed strategic business partners, to better align our processes with our customer-centric values.
Yes, there were moments of doubt, but we remained committed. We knew that taking bold steps, even in uncertainty, was essential. As we adapt to this new model, we look forward to expanding our team by over 300% in the next 12 months, focusing on talent rather than location.
At Smart, we are excited about the possibilities this new opportunity offers. We’re already growing, and the flexibility of remote work allows us to explore uncharted territory in our industry.
Here are some photos from the packing of the office!