With New York City coming back to life, a sense of normalcy is returning and the city seems more like what it was two years ago. As we regain this balance, we find ourselves attempting to revert back to the way things were done before we even heard the word ‘pandemic’.
As far as your property management is concerned, no one group has been more impacted than the actual property managers assigned to your property. For some time the barriers to maintaining quality service in property management were huge. Additionally, expectations have increased and the demands on their time have expanded. We salute the professionalism and dedication demonstrated by our client’s property management teams.
The pandemic has reaffirmed our belief in the importance of knowing when and how to embrace significant changes to everyday tasks. Many employers are dealing with employees who have learned that remote work is actually a viable option and with it, they can find time in their busy schedules for more personal time than they ever before imagined. This seems to be developing into a systematic cultural change, so much so that home prices outside of major US cities have substantially increased. Employees and employers alike have learned that they can move from meeting to meeting, as well as get more done at meetings in less time while attending in casual attire.
We believe it is important that cooperative and condominium boards consider how these changes could impact the communication between themselves, unit owners, and their property managers.
One substantial issue that we have seen create barriers and inspire conflict between boards and particularly vocal owners is communication. Many attempts to deal with communication issues and break down these barriers involve more work by the board, i.e., newsletters, posting on Buildinglink/email blasts, and “Town Hall” meetings.
While a multi-faceted approach using a few of these methods works the best, none seem more successful than scheduling multiple meetings during the year. However, moving toward more meetings with building staff, board members, owners, managing agent staff, and other professionals seems to be potentially overwhelming – especially nowadays.
We also need to be aware of the other cultural phenomena going on that would prompt us to be grateful for our teams – “the great resignation”. These incredible people make sure that properties are professionally represented, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We all should keep a huge sign on our dashboards that property managers need our support. In our experience, Czarnowski & Beer staff have found effectiveness and efficiency while working remotely, as well as a newfound ability to elevate the firm’s accounting services and client interactions, which is a cornerstone of our mission to provide superior accounting services within the cooperative and condominium industry.
The most important message we want to be your takeaway from this piece is the importance of continuing virtual property meetings for both board members and unit owners alike. The time invested in each meeting decreases for all parties involved and the experience gained over the past 18 months has led to having meetings be more organized, more productive, have less interruption, and less preparation time. Also, travel time is virtually eliminated, and meeting attendance has substantially increased. Obtaining a quorum to conduct the business is enhanced for those who travel personally or for business, either domestically or internationally, and the use of screen sharing has enhanced attendees’ focus.
Every property manager we speak with raves about how meetings have become streamlined, their time investment has been reduced, and how they totally embrace these changes. We are however concerned that they hesitate to be vocal about their needs as they want to be part of the march towards normalcy.
If you haven’t already, we ask you to take a few moments to absorb how important it is to your property manager to continue to be able to conduct evening meetings from home. Many board members are only aware of property managers’ inconveniences, like a long commute, when they are informed that they will be tardy or unavailable. When residents return to their apartments they often forget about the outsiders who attend and may have lengthy commutes home. Many of these meetings are designed to be held after dinner so residents can see their families both before and after the meeting, but that’s not the case for the commuters.
On the bright side, the demand for more and more meetings can effectively be handled virtually since multiple meetings can be attended by outside representatives from home. We trust that you have experienced greater efficiency and productivity from the property meetings you have attended while sitting at home. Every business must be committed to investing in new technology and developing strategies for improvement in order to succeed and we see that these hard-working people and businesses need all of our support. We have never seen our staff, or property management teams work harder than they have recently.
We ask you to put the importance of managing agent employee retention and their enhanced job satisfaction by throwing your support behind continued virtual meetings as opposed to onsite meetings.