Blog PostAugust 26, 2021 - Educational
Patience Is a Virtue – Especially in Condominium Management
My grandmother used to say “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can…."
There are many ways to finish the saying, but the sentiment has never been more important in our lives than right now. As property managers in these strange times, we have all had to learn patience… with our clients, with our residents, with our contractors, with our families, and with each other. It has been tested in all of us this year. How can residents learn to manage their expectations for ‘quiet enjoyment’ of their unit when EVERYONE is home and making noise?
Here are a few areas where we have had problems with and how we as managers can manage our residents’ expectations. Although we are very much dealing with the ‘now’, I believe a new path is being carved in how we continue to evolve our industry and relationships within it into the future.
With so many at home, they have stared at the walls that need a new coat of paint, or discovered that some reconfiguration is needed to manage their home space better to accommodate work as well. The lucky homeowners will have found a contractor who will work during these times AND have the time available to conduct the work.
Expectations should be set at the outset by management in consultation with the Board of Directors. Communities that have a website that all residents can access for notices can take advantage of this platform to notify everyone of days when excessive noise is expected. This is best done by the resident themselves if possible and provide contact information. Alternatively, insisting that they keep management informed of the work taking place so general notices can be issued, or complaints can be addressed with real time information as they are received.
When complaints are received, we as managers must exercise patience on all sides. Investigate the severity of the noise, understand the challenges facing the owner undertaking a renovation at this time and manage the expectations of the resident(s) complaining. Now is not the time for antagonism or apathy toward anyone.
Loud Zoom Meetings/Music/TV
With so many working from home, the noise coming from within a suite may have increased. Raise your hand if you have yelled into the computer screen during a Zoom Meeting because you think you have to in order to be heard…Yes, I thought so. The volume is up on the computer so the meeting can be heard while a much-needed coffee is being made in the kitchen. The TV is on constantly because the news has to play all day long or, to avoid the quiet outside of Zoom Meetings and completely tune out the litany of bad news on the TV, the music goes up a little too high.
We have found that advising residents of this when it happens in an understanding and polite way is usually met with mortification and profuse apologies. In an industry where we rely heavily on the written word and quoting rules to gain compliance, these times have taught us that sometimes a simple phone call goes so much further.
We have received many requests from residents who are at home with their partners for an alternative space to avoid conflicting online meetings. Patience with a co-habitant can run thin too. In buildings that have an amenity room with wifi access, there is the option to offer that space on a limited basis. The Board should be consulted for their consent and strict guidelines put in place with regard to the number of people (only one at a time recommended), and cleaning protocols after use.
There is no doubt that working from home will continue as a popular option beyond the current necessity and adjustments and accommodations will evolve. Right now, the kids are bouncing off the walls because they hate online learning and haven’t seen their friends, and your partner is pulling hair out dealing with it and wishes they could leave the house like you do. You wish you could work from home more, but the home front is just not conducive to productivity. There is no right answer or quick solution. We’ve all felt the need to get up from the computer and just do something else for a while. Our children are no different, and it is important to recognize when this needs to happen. A short, alternate activity is the best remedy and will help everyone in the house. A short walk, or if time for all allows, a game or craft could save everyone’s mental health.
You will identify with at least one (or maybe all) of the scenarios above. The key in all cases has to be to step back and understand both parties in the conflict whether it be personal or professional. Acknowledge your initial response to a particular problem and then sit on it for a while. Take your time and have the patience to think about all the ways there are to respond and pick the most appropriate. The lessons we learn now under the most difficult of circumstances can only serve to benefit us for the future of both our personal and professional lives.
Lisa Wilson, RCM OLCM
Senior Property Manager
CIE Property Management & Consulting Inc.