Few in condominium management were prepared for the challenges of COVID.
Condominium management revolves around specific tasks – building repairs and maintenance, vendor oversight and relations, responding to resident communications and problem resolution. COVID-19 is an invisible public health problem. Building residents are fearful of contracting COVID-19 yet no measures have proven effective.
In an urban high-rise environment, physical distancing is impossible in hallways, elevators and possibly amenities. Some residents want access to amenities, others desire complete closure. Mental and emotional stress about COVID among residents, employees and management has resulted in distress and short tempers. There has been increased conflict between residents, management and boards.
Condo management has never faced this type of crisis; a virus that many, perhaps most, fear.
The majority of issues relate to peoples’ emotions. Stress has increased. Those with health problems are most concerned. Zoom calls with board members, employees and vendors were needed to keep everyone updated on procedures and policies, and how to interact with residents. Customer service and conflict de-escalation skills have taken on greater importance.
The need to deal with emotional and health issues has increased. Residents feel their personal safety takes precedence over the concerns of staff. One resident wants building handles wiped and disinfected more frequently. Another wants access to amenities and staff to clean these spaces more often. Staff arrive at work stressed if uncomfortable travelling via public transit.
Condominium managers have been forced to manage the pandemic rather than their community. Procedures, construction and renovation projects, building access protocols, repairs, maintenance and countless other day-to-day activities are being handled differently. Building operations are not what they were. It is more challenging to meet with people, get work done and resolve problems. When someone is known to have tested positive for COVID, new procedures need to be followed.
Then, once things appear stable, new information is learned or government mandates change requiring all aspects of building operations, policies and procedures to be updated. Procedures are now necessary for updating procedures.
Availability of vaccines will help deal with emotions and fear. This should allow building management to get back to traditional condominium management.