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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

ARCHIVE ARTICLE

The Zoom Outlook

Sometimes good things come out of hard times. What, if anything, has the pandemic actually helped you solve?

Prior to the pandemic, we really didn’t meet via Zoom. We had a conference call or maybe a phone call with a couple of board members. But I think we’ve all become relative experts in the use of Zoom, and using that in our board meetings throughout the pandemic has been a really good tool for all of us.

 

What has it helped you solve or improve? 

Well, I think communication. A conference call is good, but there’s a lot of voices. Being able to see one another and pause and wait until someone asks a question or answers a question – having that ability is great. And it’s just improved our communication skills between the boards and between residents. We’ve done annual meetings with Zoom, and it’s worked really, really well, getting our points across to the boards and to residents.

 

Your company’s growing, and you’re adding new people. How have you used Zoom internally? 

We are having weekly Zoom meetings with all of our managers. So as we are learning information, we are disseminating that to our managers via Zoom, and then our managers get it out either in print form or through a Zoom meeting with boards, or even emails to the residents. So it’s another tool that we use as a team to better communicate with our buildings.

 

You mentioned monthly board meetings on Zoom. Is that going to endure after this pandemic has passed, or is that something that’s going to fade away?

Hopefully, it endures. I know a lot of buildings like to meet face to face. But what I found using Zoom is that you stay on the agenda more. There’s no conversation in between agenda items, so you don’t digress to a different subject. You stay on point. And it’s good for the managers because they are working all day running the buildings, or they’re in the office, and then they go to a meeting late at night. So the boards are home. If a manager has the ability to be either in the office or home, they don’t have to travel so far. So it’s a good thing – for us, anyway.

 

What about annual meetings? Do you think they are going to go back to in-person meetings?

I think we’re going to go back to in-person because the question-and-answer piece of the annual meetings is a bit of an issue with Zoom. We do it, but some people submit questions prior. Some will raise their hand or you have a little reaction up on your screen, and we take the questions. But I think that people really do want that personal aspect of the meeting. We’ve all been cooped up and locked in our apartments for more than a year, and we want to see our neighbors. We want to be with one another. We want to have the ability to ask a question face to face with one another. So I think the annual meetings will probably go back to in-person meetings.

 

To wrap up, what has the pandemic done to help you improve communication?

It has made us rely more on technology. We’ve had to learn how to adjust and get information out to our buildings and our boards and one another in a faster format. So Zoom has done that really, really well for us, and we use it for shareholder informational meetings as well. We also have robocalls and email platforms that we use. In the past, many people didn’t want to give us their email addresses. Now they’re doing it because they don’t understand why the neighbor next door knew about something and they didn’t. They didn’t see the memo. For communicating, this technology has been wonderful.

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