With residents spending far more time at home and intense restrictions on movement, Clear Building Management share how they’ve adapted their property management services since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown – and some of the lessons learnt along the way.
We’ve been managing residential leasehold developments since 2015, quietly and effectively growing our portfolio of blocks under management and working with our RMC director and leaseholder customers to build communities and ensure they have a property that they want to come home to at the end of the day.
But what happens when your residents barely leave their homes for the best part of ten weeks?
Our disaster recovery planning has always been focussed on staff being able to work from anywhere so we were able to adapt quickly to the new guidelines. It is fair to say thought that we have had to learn a few lessons quite quickly, manage some expectations, and apply a hefty dose of common-sense from time to time!
Here are some of the challenges and lessons we’ve learnt along the way:
Helping site staff get to and from work
We have a fantastic group of site staff working across our developments, many of whom are an essential part of their communities. From early on in lockdown we provided site staff with taxis and created car clubs to enable them to still get to work.
Social distancing for residents
With more people in the developments during the daytime, there was increased activity in the lifts and stairwells. We worked with residents to set common sense measures to ensure social distancing could be maintained.
Parcel deliveries on the rise
Online shopping has increased exponentially if the volume of parcel deliveries across our developments is a reliable indicator! We have given our residents guidance about hygiene and how to safely accepting parcels, as well as dealing with the amount of packaging waste that can clog up bin stores.
Good internet connectivity is all-important
Whether it’s endless zoom calls for work or simply trying to stave off the boredom / keep the kids entertained during lockdown, a fast and reliable internet connection has never been more important. We have been signposting residents to useful apps that tell them which mobile network networks have the best signal in their apartment and then suggesting they look at “MiFi” internet from the mobile networks as an immediate solution. Also known as ‘pocket WiFi’, these boxes can be bought online and are plug and play.
Shortage of suppliers / contractors
Like many managing agents, we have been faced with a dire shortage of suppliers and contractors, making it difficult to progress major works projects or book in external repairs. Where contractors are available, they are in turn reporting difficulties in obtaining parts. We have kept in close contact with residents to reassure that we are doing all we can, and that Clear’s developments will be at the top of the list as soon as suppliers and contractors can get their staff onto site. We are confident that, as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, we will be able to get important repairs and renovations back underway quickly.
Demands for non-essential work
There’s always the odd property owner or RMC director who doesn’t quite understand the definition of ‘essential’! Expectation management has been key to helping people understand why – during lockdown – we can’t get contractors out to paint over their water stains, fix a minor repair etc, when there are vulnerable residents to consider. Government guidance explaining why this is the case has been helpful in these conversations.
Lockdown niggles and grumbles
Communal living has its well-rehearsed challenges, as well of course as a whole host of benefits. Extended periods in close proximity to your neighbours has inevitably led to a rise in what we would term ‘lockdown niggles’. Complaints about too loud washing machines through to residents unhappy about visitors to other properties. Sometimes people just want to get the moan off their chest (property managers are skilled agony aunts!), but it’s largely a case of applying bucket loads of common sense and helping residents to get through what has been inarguably a trying period of confinement and restrictions to ‘normal life’.
The past 10 weeks since lockdown was announced have underpinned the importance of agility, flexibility and true customer focus as we endeavour to provide a property management service that is as close to ‘business as usual’ as possible.
By keeping our RMC directors and leaseholders at the heart of our efforts, we have done our best to help our customers get through lockdown with the minimum of property management issues.
It’s fair to say though that it has been a testing time for all of us, and we are most definitely looking forward to getting back on site properly, and to supporting all of our property management customers as lockdown is eased.