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How the Country’s Top Home-Leasing Company Transitioned its Own Staff to Working from Home


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More than 200,000 people around the country live in a single-family residence owned and operated by Invitation Homes. One reason the company has become the nation’s most successful home-leasing business is the outstanding service it provides—far above and beyond what most landlords can offer their tenants.

Residents who rent an Invitation Homes property enjoy fast and reliable access to professional maintenance and repair services—including 24/7 emergency service. Most of the homes include built-in smart home technology, and the company updates and renovates every one of its roughly 80,000 homes for new tenants.

But as you can imagine, servicing about 80,000 properties, in 16 unique regions around the country, and staying accessible to residents 24 hours a day requires a highly reliable communications infrastructure. For Invitation Homes, these operations became even more complicated when the COVID-19 outbreak forced all of the company’s office employees, from more than a dozen locations, to begin working from home.

The good news: Invitation Homes had recently moved to the most flexible, mobile communications platform the company ever had.

Legacy phone systems fall short for this modern landlord

The company found it increasingly difficult to operate the legacy communications systems it had inherited as a result of multiple mergers and acquisitions. With three different phone solutions and several apps for video conferencing, the 1,250 employees of Invitation Homes weren’t able to communicate and collaborate as effectively as they’d like.

Here’s how Mike Williams, the company’s Senior Director of Infrastructure, summarizes the challenge: “Calling between offices was a problem. We had no company directory. Some office extensions worked, some didn’t. And everyone was using different conferencing systems.”

When they moved to the all-in-one cloud solution from RingCentral, Mike and his team knew they had solved the problem of different employees using different systems. The staff finally had a consistent, streamlined communication experience—for business calls, dialing extensions in other offices, and hosting video meetings—because everyone across the company was now on the same platform.

But by switching to RingCentral, Invitation Homes was also preparing itself to weather a major disruption the company didn’t even know was about to happen.

Continuing to serve residents… from their own homes

Because their employees all had RingCentral at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, Invitation Homes was able to easily transition its entire office staff to work-from-home arrangements, without interrupting or slowing their productivity or ability to serve residents.

Using the RingCentral app, employees could take and make business calls on their computers or smartphones at home. They could also easily host and join video conferences with the built-in RingCentral Meetings. This made it much easier for the company to remain fully operational even as it transitioned to a 100% remote workforce for the first time in its history.

As Mike explains, the company’s senior management made the decision to move everyone out of the offices ahead of the lockdown orders. And within just 48 hours, Invitation Homes had updated its call queues and was able to seamlessly transition from an office-based organization to a fully virtual one.

“What was really incredible was that our end customers didn’t experience any difference when they called us, even though our team was speaking to them from their living rooms,” he says.

“Migrating to RingCentral turned out to be a huge victory for us. If we hadn’t made this move, the COVID-19 issue would’ve made it much more difficult for us to continue functioning and serving our residents.”

Originally published Jun 17, 2020, updated Aug 12, 2020

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