Earlier this year, many businesses were required to make a quick shift to remote work. HousingWire spoke to Ted Manley, partner at Manley Deas Kochalski, about the ways in which technology has enabled the firm to continue supporting its clients while its employees work from home.
HousingWire: As CDC guidelines and other health and safety measures surrounding COVID-19 have led to an increase in remote work, what complications has that created for Manley Deas Kochalski and your servicing clients?
Ted Manley: At the onset of the pandemic, it became clear that MDK needed to adjust to working in a remote setting. The health and wellness of our employees is always a top priority, especially as we looked to stay connected to our teams and our clients during this unprecedented time. It was imperative that we maintain consistent communication with our bank and servicer contacts, and that we provide timely legal advice for managing state and local directives related to COVID-19.
We focused on enhancing our existing technological infrastructure, ensuring our workforce remained as effective and secure as it is when onsite. Our compliance and human resources departments developed new work-from-home policies that allowed our employees to provide uninterrupted support to our clients from the safety of their homes.
HW: MDK has a long history of leveraging technology to stay efficient and flexible. How has this embrace of technology enabled your firm to adapt to the current challenges while maintaining quality service?
TM: Our existing technology platform allowed for a seamless transition to remote work and client service across our six states. As soon as our teams transitioned to working remotely, we began focusing on opportunities to enhance their remote work experience by implementing additional collaboration and communication tools.
We believe the client and employee experience go hand-in-hand. Keeping our employees connected in a remote work environment has further strengthened MDK’s commitment to providing clients with continuity of services and transparency into their default portfolio.
MDK’s innovative IT team has forged ahead to develop enhancements to our service offerings. We began to envision technology solutions that MDK could offer to clients in need of augmented reporting systems. As a response, our IT team developed a secure application that enables document execution, communication and on-demand reporting.
We recognize that there are a number of processes that will continue to be managed remotely in a post COVID-19 world. We are working on addressing challenges that the courts, county officials and our clients are facing with a goal to provide long-term solutions.
We reimagined the MDK Academy, MDK’s bespoke client training program. Our attorneys created dynamic, on-demand training sessions that our clients can access at any time, from any location. We have found that webinar Q&A sessions are a great follow-up to the online trainings, and these various format options offer clients greater flexibility when trying to organize large groups of employees working remotely.
HW: Given the current uncertainty, it’s possible this shift to remote work may continue for some time. What are the best practices you recommend to your employees and anyone else working from home?
TM: In early March, we realized that life will be described in pre- and post-COVID-19 terms from now on. We turned to leaders in organizational psychology and other progressive thinkers, including Adam Grant and Sam Harris, to gain knowledge on building stronger, more resilient teams. We highly recommend “Remote” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of Basecamp (previously 37signals), as they present a great case for remote work regardless of the events shaping our world.
Recognizing that “normal” will never be same, we strengthened our focus on strategic planning and creating a defined Innovation Hub that will encourage the development of new ideas while on-boarding new lines of business that fit in our business model.