Social distancing. Masks. Virtual meetings. Handwashing. Lots and lots of handwashing.
2020 brought an onslaught of new terms and new normals around the globe as we all work through this global pandemic together. According to an April 2020 study done by Stanford and MIT, nearly HALF of the US labor force is now working from home. COVID-19 has drastically changed how we work and how we communicate. Office buildings and parking lots alike are left dark and silent as businesses and company structures transition from an office setting to a work-from-home environment. From banks to tech to property management, no industry has been left untouched.
Property management, an industry that historically has relied on an office setting to enter data, send homeowner and board communications, and to manage reporting, was hit hard along with other US industries. But community management faced a unique challenge: with more and more people staying home, there has been an exponential increase in architecture requests, the steady need for inspections, and the new challenges of how to meet and collaborate without meeting in person.
How quickly and effectively homeowner’s association management companies and groups were able to make the transition from an office setting to a work from home environment was dependent, almost solely, on one thing: technology.
Here are 3 things successful HOA Management companies have done to adjust to the coronavirus:
From going home-to-home checking the community, to stuffing and sending envelopes, to in-person board meetings, it’s no secret that HOA management has been wrought with time-consuming in-person tasks.
With the current pandemic recommendations, many of these tasks became more than just a drain on time – they also put your team at high risk. But communities still need to be managed, perhaps more now than ever.
The simplest and fastest way to overcome this monumental hurdle is to go mobile. Cloud-based mobile management like Smartwebs’ SmartViolations helps keep team members safe by ditching the clip board for a smartphone or tablet, and empowering them to use GPS tracking tech to inspect, report, and even send notifications all without having to go into an office. As an added bonus, many management companies have seen up to a 70% increase in productivity1 when switching to a mobile management platform.
Some key things to look for when seeking a mobile management solution are the ability to work and connect outside of the office, effective GPS tracking, the ability to create and send notifications from anywhere, and real-time reporting and updates.
All of these elements make for a safer management process, with the added bonus of saving time as well.
COLLABORATE – COMMUNICATE – AUTOMATE
Even with masks and social distancing, more and more businesses are finding that in-person meetings pose too much of a risk for their workers. But that’s not slowing people down from home improvement! Architectural requests increased 42% in Q2 20202 alone, with even bigger increases as the year progresses.
One solution is to hold virtual meetings with your board. While Zoom and GoToMeeting video formats can help, they don’t have the ability to record and track progress with your homeowners, or to make note of any additional questions or required documents for each project.
The best software offers solutions to these problems and more. Key elements to look for are an online collaboration tool, the ability to automate communication (when an item has been voted on, notice of approval or requests for more information), automated reminders for voting deadlines, and the ability for homeowners to upload all necessary documents.
SmartArchitecturals provides these features and more, and works well with sister software designed to simplify every aspect of HOA management. Ideally, you want your software to integrate every element into a larger community management tool, with records for the homeowners and management company in one convenient location that can be accessed from anywhere.
BE TRANSPARENT – COMMUNICATION IS KEY
With so much uncertainty, one step you can take to reassure your team and community is simple: stay in contact. But, while the concept of connecting is a simple one, often the mechanics of keeping up with community communication is difficult.
Finding the right tools to allow not only your management team, but homeowners and board members alike, quick and easy access to HOA management resources is key to staying transparent.
So, what are the key elements that help most with communication?
Homeowner access to their profile. When a homeowner is able to see a transaction history, approval status, and community communications in one location, the entire process is simplified. This also reduces the amount of emails and calls from homeowners asking about the status of things.
Fast messaging on multiple platforms. Look for software that allows you to send out consistent messaging across your community, by email, voicemail, and text. SmartCommunications has all of these elements, and has the added ability to filter and tag members in your community for quick reference and contact. Need to send out a community update? Quickly do so with targeted messaging sent with one-click.
Stay in sync. Make sure that your messages, updates, and notes are available on all platforms. Look for a package that offers multiple software solutions for the various aspects of HOA management. The goal is to avoid duplicating work on your end, and to be sure that all communication is recorded and is easily accessible to the team, board, and homeowners.
While adjusting has been hard, there are quite a few small and simple changes we can all make to stay together even when we’re apart. As the world continues to work through COVID-19, keep ahead of the curve with cloud-based tech solutions.
Stay mobile – Stay efficient – Stay in touch.
1 According to a study done by Smartwebs Inc, 2018.
2 YTD October 2020 increase in architectural requests through SmartArchitecturals