Few could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts when lockdowns took place across the U.S. in 2020. More than a year into the global crisis, community association management companies and managers continue to show flexibility and improve existing processes to serve boards and residents.
Community association managers perform essential services for their clients, guiding communities with operational support and advice that affects the health, safety, and welfare of homeowners. Management companies, on-site managers, and staff members have embraced remote work and virtual meetings to provide continuity of service to community associations and collaborate and connect with employees, service providers, and association boards.
Aperion Management Group, AAMC, in Bend, Ore., shifted most of its business to an online format early in the pandemic, including its hiring process and meetings with both staff and association boards, says Tina Maxwell, manager of corporate affairs.
The operational changes have proved beneficial to the company’s growth and its connectivity with employees. “The transition has allowed us to expand from central Oregon throughout the state, implementing greater flexibility for staff,” Maxwell remarks.
Karen Martinez, chief executive officer at ASPM-San Diego, says a transition to cloud-based technologies in 2019 facilitated remote work for its administrative staff. During the pandemic, policies and procedures for internal processes and communications were developed, and staff educated boards and residents on accessing online services and meeting virtually.
Association meetings are now shorter and more productive for community association management companies, boards, and residents since moving to a virtual format, says Martinez. “Virtual conferencing also has allowed increased meeting attendance and community engagement by virtue of providing digital access to off-site owners,” she notes.
The pandemic has provided insight for many in the community association management profession, especially as they consider long-term changes.
Maxwell says that Aperion became more creative in its problem-solving—from adapting their operations based on updated state mandates to implementing new software to facilitate services for associations.
Martinez says remote work has been beneficial to staff, who report increased productivity and higher job satisfaction due to an improved work-life balance. “We will likely continue working remotely post-pandemic based on our determination that this approach has proven to provide a more time-efficient, customer-focused, and cost-effective way to deliver service to clients,” she explains.
For Ike M. Mutlu, PCAM, chief operating officer and general manager at Lake Ridge Parks and Recreation Association, a large-scale community in Northern Virginia, the biggest lesson from the pandemic has been to anticipate every scenario, be flexible with operations, and have the right team.
“The most important thing is to find, hire, and mentor good people. Everything is so much simpler for the manager, the board, and the community when you have high quality people doing their jobs,” he says.
>>Read more about the lessons learned by community associations more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic in “Lasting Change,” from the March/April 2021 issue of CAI’s Common Ground magazine.
“Wave of Change: How COVID-19 Transformed the Community Association Management Profession” is one of the in-person sessions at the 2021 CAI Annual Conference and Exposition: Community NOW, Aug. 18–21, in Las Vegas. View the complete education session lineup and event schedule at www.caionline.org/2021AnnualConference.