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Is Nighttime the Wrong Time for Board Meetings?

Joe Alonge in Board Operations on December 21, 2017

Sea Cliff, Long Island

Morning Meetings
Dec. 21, 2017

For  more than 35 years, my design firm has worked with co-op and condo boards in the New York metropolitan area, designing lobbies, corridors, model apartments, and other projects. Most of these boards meet in the evening hours. From long experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that the night time is not the right time for co-op and condo board meetings. 

When boards convene in the evening, some of the board members and the design team have already put in eight- to 10-hour workdays. These meetings typically run for hours, late into the night, as we discuss important design and construction requirements for our project. My experience has been that these evening meetings, quite frankly, tend to be grueling and unproductive. Many times there is a lack of focus, a tendency to ignore professional design advice, and an increase in the number of disagreements among board members. Fatigue, surely, is a factor. 

I’ll never forget a major project my firm worked on – a total renovation for a large building’s entry, lobby, corridors and storefront. The meetings with several board members would run late, sometimes past 10 p.m. One evening, after another long work day, one of the building’s representatives actually fell asleep – head back, mouth open, snoring, the whole bit. The rest of us were all able to find some humor in the moment, but this had become a distraction for my team and the rest of the board at a time when we all needed to be focused. The time spent in that meeting wound up being fruitless. A late night wasted for us all. 

Recently, though, through the cooperation of a few co-op and condo boards that have retained the services of my company, I’ve been able to schedule morning and afternoon meetings with them. The attitude of cooperation and the amount of work accomplished at these earlier meetings has been astounding! 

These earlier meetings have enabled us to visit the design sites in the building with the board members, creating a better team spirit and design vision for everyone. Meeting in the earlier hours of the day also allows for a more realistic presentation of paint colors, fabrics, and artwork, since all these materials are now being viewed in natural daylight and not limited to the fluorescent or LED lighting available in a conference room. I’ve also found that the board members, together with our design team, were able to freely express their needs, ideas, and opinions in a less stressful, time-restricted environment. As a result, optimal productivity was accomplished in fewer meetings by merely envisioning the building’s projects from inception to completion in a new light. 

Perhaps best of all, no one has snored during a daytime meeting. Your board might want to consider making the switch. 

Joe Alonge is president of the Joe Alonge Ltd. design firm in Sea Cliff, New York.

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