The 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought about rapid changes across the strata industry. Agencies now have to adhere to social distancing measures to stem the spread of the virus, causing many to consider remote work arrangements and plan alternative solutions to continue with their business.
Navigating your responsibilities as a strata manager may prove to be challenging during this time, but there are things you can do to help you stay efficient and on top of the situation. Let’s take a look at strategies you can use to help you deal with COVID-19.
Staying productive while working from home
Working from home has now become the current reality for many strata managers and staying productive just as you would in your office is important. The first step is to ensure your systems and tools are easily accessible so you can still work efficiently even when at home.
If you’re using desktop applications like Strata Master, the best way to do this is to look into remote hosting through an IT company like ChillIT, or use third party remote access software which allows you to access your PC at the office remotely. Take advantage of free trial periods offered by these software providers to help you decide which one works best for your needs.
Remember to also follow work from home best practices to ensure you and your team stay productive and motivated during this unprecedented time.
Communicating with owners & committee members
With social distancing measures put in place, digital communications are more important than ever. Take it even further with automated communications offered by most strata management software to help you streamline SMS and email messages and notifications. In Strata Master, you can schedule on off and recurring SMS as well as send bulk emails, and personalise them with merge fields, saving you heaps of time.
Changes to business practices, processes and transactions are happening very quickly during this unusual time. Setting up a dedicated page on your website for any updates and news is a great way to keep owners and committee member on the loop and assure them that you are you are on top of the situation. Check out our own COVID-19 resources page to see what that can look like – and also get some valuable information for yourself while at it.
Run meetings online
If you’re a strata manager, holding meetings with owners and committee members - like your AGMs - is a key part of your job. Video conferencing via Zoom or Microsoft Teams is a great way to turn these all important meetings virtual, and when it comes time to vote on a motion, you can utilise an online voting facility to allow your owners and committee members to vote on motions digitally. If you're using Strata Master, here's a quick guide to help you set up, use and vote using the online voting feature.
However, some owners committees may have reservations about running important or large meetings online and prefer face to face. In such cases you may have to defer meetings to comply with physical distancing guidelines.
Work with committees to defer levies
These times will be tough financially for some owners and owners corporations may need to reconsider their levies. You can work with committees to check if a lower contribution to the admin fund is feasible, or if you can remove a quarters levies because the funds are not strictly required. Keep in mind that you have to give clear instructions to your staff on what can and can’t be offered to avoid any confusion and process these requests more efficiently.
Consider payment plans
If levies can't be reduced or removed, you may need to work with your owners & committee members to help struggling owners pay their levies at a later date or over a period of time. In Strata Master, you can create payment plans and easily track once they are due with set reminders.
Don't stop maintenance
The Strata Community Association (SCA) has urged property owners not to cancel maintenance jobs in the face of the pandemic. Not only does stopping maintenace affect the livelihoods or tradespeople, it also creates a compounding effect that will make your job harder down the line. There are more issues than ever with so many people working from home, and if these aren't fixed, we could see some major issues. As long as your trades are following the latest social distancing guidelines, then they pose a minimal threat and should be allowed to work.
Consider implementing new by-laws
If need be - particualrly if residents are not complying with social distancing rules - you could consider working with the owners corporation to implement new by-laws. Things like setting out rules for distancing, including how communal faciliaties like pools and gyms can be used (if at all), or allowing pre-meeting electronic voting so residents don't need to attend face-to-face meetings could be very useful right now.
With more and more people staying indoors and spending time online to keep updated, your marketing efforts should now focus heavily on digital and social media marketing. Content like blog posts and videos about topics that your audience can relate to can drive more potential customers to your business. Widen your reach through your social media channels, which are always a great place to promote content and start people engaging with your business.
The virus outbreak has caused rapid changes that can often lead to panic and confusion, but it is important to note that you can always leverage available technologies to make a less than ideal situation work for you. Just remember to take it day by day and keep calm - and always wash your hands