Editor’s note: Excerpted from Kelly Kepley’s April 2020 NRTA webinar, “Facing the Challenges of Lease Administration”

We’re all told that there’s a business continuity plan for our company, but who thought we’d be challenging it like this? Thankfully, there are still a lot of things we can do remotely, and several tools to help us.

Working remotely

One of the biggest things to do when you work remotely, and this is even more true when it’s an abrupt transition like so many of us experienced, is to keep communication open. While many people are facing added challenges on the home front—homeschooling while trying to work, anyone?—interacting with coworkers is as vital as making sure the work gets done.

Something that’s showing great success is to get face time with your team in several ways. Quick daily meetings via Zoom, GoToMeeting, or other video conferencing apps are relatively easy and often free ways to stay connected despite being isolated. Weekly one-on-one meetings with your manager are also effective ways to ensure any issues are being addressed, and that everyone is on the same page.

Video conferencing also allows you to keep your team’s cohesiveness, and in many cases allows coworkers to get to know each other better if you do some fun activities. Ice breakers, virtual activities, and personal success stories are all great ways to keep things positive in the face of uncertainty. Humorous “tales from the trenches” are also effective—we’ve all had those times when things didn’t necessarily go right, but they made us laugh anyway.

Real-time collaboration with cloud-based files such as Google Docs (or Sheets, for spreadsheets) is effective for removing lengthy email chains where information might be missed or misinterpreted.

We’ve all been there. Fifteen emails from several different people later, we can’t remember who said what about Point K on Lease A, because the chain of information has been muddled by other references. Who wants that headache? Putting the information in a shared doc and collecting comments/amendments/next steps in one place, in real-time, can save you a lot of time, headaches, and frustration because it’s consolidated, and you can see who changed or commented on things to know exactly who to follow up with if needed.

Here are some of the many collaboration tools available. This list isn’t comprehensive, but it does reflect a lot of what we’re seeing in use.

  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • GoToMeeting
  • Confluence (Salesforce)
  • Google Docs
  • SharePoint

The Future Challenges of Lease Administration

We’re all being bombarded with questions right now as we try to adapt to our new reality and think ahead to how a future “normal” will affect us. Some of the key factors we’re all wrestling with are, in-store eCommerce, virtual offices, artificial intelligence, outsourcing, and expanded demands on lease administration.

In-store eCommerce
Tenants and landlords are both adapting to different and increased ways this is happening. It presents a challenge when lease terms and physical locations weren’t necessarily designed for this from the outset. Read the lease. Know what you’re working with, and keep an open dialogue with your landlord.

Virtual office
Will this change how we do business? This is one of the big questions a lot of people and companies are asking. The answer is yes, sometimes in unexpected ways. Many companies have seen increased productivity after moving to a virtual model to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. Others have learned that virtual doesn’t work with their current model.

Artificial intelligence
Advancements have been made in this field, including testing it with lease administration, but current AIs aren’t yet up to dealing with the complexity and interpretations needed for all the different leases out there. Don’t rule it out, though, because it’s constantly evolving and shows great promise for adding efficiency to lease administration processes down the road.

As with anything, outsourcing can streamline many processes but make sure you thoroughly review all results regardless of how accurate your provider is. It only takes one misinterpreted or missed detail to cause major—and expensive—headaches.

Expanded Demands on Lease Administration
Many things are changing now and will change even further post-COVID-19. Rent relief, temporary closures during the pandemic or after, third party support, and lease rights are all key things to keep in mind. As will all such issues, read your lease(s). Know your rights under it, and craft protective measures based on that. Keep communications open with your landlord(s). You might not know what the answer is to a temporary closure problem and how you’ll resolve a rent relief issue, but if you’re communicating, then you have chances to work with your landlord to figure things out.