The COVID-19 enforced shut down of our country has been devastating; for those who have become ill or lost their lives, or that of a loved one, and for those business owners struggling to stay afloat. It’s also forced layoffs and cut backs in our industry. Despite this pain, we have learned that for our industry, we are just touching the beginning of a new era as we, our Board members and management companies, are forced embrace the technologies that keep us connected. It’s led to some astonishing – dare I say miraculous? – leaps forward. Here are just a few:
The COVID Miracle # 1: Virtual Meetings
Who’d a thought it possible? Virtual meetings, either on ZOOM, Skype, or even simple conference calls, are proving to be what we have longed for lo these many years: Shorter, more focused and efficient. Without face-to-face interaction, several factors that cause long meetings vanish. For the Board members who like to “grandstand” for the homeowner audience, that audience has disappeared; what had impact in front of live people suddenly looks small, petty and ineffectual on an iPad. For all the other reasons meetings go on and on, such an extraneous chit chat and lengthy what-about-we-do-this-isms…. Most of that, too, goes away, and a two-hour meeting is suddenly a 45-minute meeting wherein the agenda is adhered to and discussion is down to a minimum. It’s a COVID miracle!
Owner participation. It seems, at least at this juncture, that those owners who attend meetings simply to gripe, snipe or get their ego-blast by tearing down the Board aren’t as eager to do so without their live audience. Again, when you’re reduced to railing at your own Galaxy S-20 and not the faces of your nemeses… Yeah, it’s not quite so satisfying…
Better time management for all. For managers – how many hours are you saving by not having to travel to and from Board meetings? Let’s say, as a conservative example, four Board meetings per month, 35-minute commute each way – that’s over 4.6 hours per month. If you have more meetings per month and your commutes are longer, do the math: You could be saving 10 -15 hours! The same goes for Board members, especially those who don’t have a meeting location onsite. Over the course of a year, we are looking and hundreds of hours regained for more productive work, or simply to live life (once we are freed from quarantine).
COVID Miracle # 2: Managers CAN have home-based offices and CAN be supervised
Management companies have been forced to recognize that managers can manage from anywhere; there really is no need to work out of a main office anymore and they still can be supervised by an executive. This bodes well for us as we head out of the shutdown and the economy (hopefully) ramps back up. Work-from-home options will make our profession more desirable and perhaps allow for more part-time positions.
The work-at-home productivity question. You’d think that productivity would be down with all the home distractions, and yes, in some cases that is true. But on the other hand, it has been reported to us by some executives that productivity is actually higher for managers working at home. We aren’t sure why that is as of yet; but one could speculate that there are fewer “The Office” – related distractions: No face-to-face staff interactions or discussions, less “water cooler” talk,
and of course less travel eating up productive time. But – if working at home supports higher productivity it follows that there will be a better bottom line. Happy worker, happy boss, happy clients.
For many years, I and other industry professionals have discussed at length ways the industry could be improved. Who knew those improvements would be forced upon us through a pandemic? But here we are, living witnesses to what will change the industry forever, and for the better! Now we are learning many other industries are deciding to allow their employees to work from home, even after the pandemic is over! The trickle-down effects will be better for us and the environment, with reduced travel, less load on the infrastructure, less congestion, less stress, fewer office personnel issues, fewer accidents…I could go on and on.
The COVID-19 enforced shut down of our country has been devastating; but there is a silver lining for our industry, and others that spend their lives in front of a screen, as we embrace the home-office as not only a viable, but a practical and even better way for us to conduct business. Finally, we will achieve that long sought for work/life balance.
Julie Adamen is President of Adamen Inc, a consulting, education and employment firm specializing in the community management industry. Julie can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.