Guest Column: CEO of Atlas Real Estate — Is Working Remote Worth the Missed Opportunity?

Tony Julianelle, CEO of Atlas Real Estate, says you should think twice before working from home during the early stages of your career.
Jason Strull Kq0c6wteglo Unsplash

I was talking to a dear friend this week about the early days of my career, and it caused my mind to turn to the topic of working from home. In my career in the real estate lending sector, my first boss was a producing branch manager. This meant that almost all his income came from being a loan officer – and then he got a little extra to also be a people manager. So, you can imagine where his focus on training me fell in his stack of priorities. That said, he was actually a fantastic boss and even became one of my closest friends.

I don’t think I can quantify how much I learned from Rob. I learned how to be a loan officer, but I also learned about leadership, management, conflict resolution, problem-solving, recruiting, retention, critical-thinking, marriage, parenting, and the list could go on. Some of this I learned from intentional training – maybe 10-15%. The rest, I learned from being around him.

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He and I were together 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. As is typical early in careers, I was working a lot. All that time we conversed on business and life. And I was learning, constantly.

It took many years to understand that what I had gained from this leader was tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge, aka implicit knowledge, is knowledge that is difficult to express or extract, and thus more difficult to transfer to others by means of writing it down or verbalizing it. This can include personal wisdom, experience, insight, and intuition.

Tacit knowledge can’t be read in a book or put in a training manual. You cannot communicate it through a Teams meeting or on a screen. You can get it two ways. Experience and Apprenticeship. Experience takes time. Apprenticeship takes desire and commitment. You can’t avoid experience; it’s going to happen whether you choose to learn from it or not. You also can’t accelerate experience very much. Apprenticeship is the way you gain tacit knowledge without experiencing it yourself and you get it through regular, sustained, contact. This is where career trajectories diverge.

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By choosing to not engage in the office setting, professionals today, particularly young professionals, are missing out on their single most valuable professional and career development opportunity. You likely won’t have many epiphanies in your day-to-day work, but what does happen is that over time, the rhythms of the office and your different interactions with people start to shape you and inform how you think and act. My manager and I almost never spoke directly about leadership, but to this day I catch myself doing things the way he would have done them. This wasn’t dictated or commanded, but simply absorbed.

We all know this is a loaded topic right now and becomes even more loaded across different generations. There are companies making sweeping statements on both sides of the work-from-home debate, and at my own company, we are choosing to maintain a more flexible approach.

But one thing I know for certain, if early in my career I had opted to work remotely on a regular basis, it would have delayed my professional development significantly and I would not be the leader I am today. While this may or may not be true for everyone, it is probably worth at least a little contemplation.

Here’s the thing. Yes, it’s easier to work from home for a lot of us. No getting ready. No commute. No finding a parking spot. No packing a lunch. No traffic.

But easy is very rarely better.


Tony JulianelleTony is the CEO of Atlas Real Estate, a full-service real estate company specializing in investment services, property management, institutional acquisitions, and buy/sell brokerage. He is a successful organizational leader with more than 20 years in real estate and financial services who is passionate about developing people and serving customers. He is a consultant to various business partners, focusing on strategy, execution, and bottom-line business results. Tony is an articulate, concise and professional communicator as well as a gifted people motivator. He is regularly referenced and featured in local and national media for leadership, finance, and real estate insights.

Categories: Business Insights, Business Leaders, Management & Leadership