Working Together, Separately

By on May 29, 2020 in News, People

An organization’s ability to remain focused and cohesive during social distancing is essential for its success. To do so, Newcastle Limited chose to harness the power of software that fills gaps created by social distancing, offering tools for collaboration, communication, and productivity. 

Pre-pandemic business as usual

Newcastle Limited is a Chicago-based real estate investment firm specializing in commercial and residential properties. Its localized portfolio consists of 42 residential properties totaling 2,875 units and 55 retail properties with 140 tenants. To support those clients, Newcastle Limited employs 150 staff members, 54 of which operate from the corporate office.

Mike Haney, Newcastle Limited CEO, consistently prioritizes the professional development of his team. Prior to the pandemic, the organization implemented Newcastle University via Yardi eLearning for onboarding, training, continuing education and professional development. Once restructured as Yardi Aspire, the additional features within the software  gave new life to Haney’s initiative.

Newcastle Limited implemented Aspire at the end of February, and timing couldn’t have been better. The organization had the opportunity to familiarize itself with the revised University before the pandemic encouraged social distancing nationwide. Through Aspire, Newcastle Limited has been able to maintain its focus on professional development in the face of unprecedented change.

Aspire: working together, separately

In response to social distancing, Newcastle Limited shifted most of its workforce to a remote environment. The real estate investment firm relied on Yardi Aspire to keep the team connected and in sync. Its online learning environment includes communication tools, collaboration opportunities and training event management. Aspire has proven to be a single solution for Newcastle’s remote work needs.

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Aspire is the only training solution on the market that enables clients to automatically distribute role-based learning plans that cover multiple competency areas including property management software skills, mandatory compliance, company policies, safety, leasing and procedures.

At Newcastle Limited, Aspire has helped management better understand the needs, strengths, and opportunities of its employees as they work and learn outside of the office. “We are using the platform for compliance-related initiatives such as policy and procedure updates. This way, we can track who has taken and acknowledged policies,” says Jennifer Smetana, director of learning and development at Newcastle Limited. Scoring measures within the software also provide managers with insights into areas that may need review and further clarification.

Additional features have improved the way that Newcastle Limited stays organized and connected with remote employees. “The learning plans and our dynamic ownership for grouping and reporting purposes have had a major impact,” says Smetana. “We also started using the resource containers to house quick guides, article of the week, and the additional links to pages we use often. Everything is quickly accessible in one place so that we stay efficient and organized.”

Teamwork, virtual watercoolers and camaraderie

During social distancing, the communication and collaboration tools within Aspire demonstrated their value to Newcastle Limited.

“We have taken an employee engagement approach to the platform,” she says.  “We launched engagement events such as virtual coffee breaks, contests, games and Wednesdays by the Watercooler to keep our team members connected.”

Wednesdays by the Watercooler is a casual event where employees are encouraged to log on together and share in a virtual break. “We connect, tell jokes and do silly activities to stay united,” smiles Smetana.

“I feel that Aspire has helped our organization move forward and continue growing. The platform is the foundation for staying connected and has aided in keeping our team members working while being remote,” says Smetana.

Join a webinar to discover how Aspire, formerly eLearning, can support your organization during social distancing and beyond.