As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all looking back on where we were a year ago and how our “new normal” looks. 2020 was PSI’s 45th anniversary of being in the business of Community Association Management and our plans for open houses and celebrations came to a halt. I cannot help but remember Cathy Ryan, PSI’s CEO & President, calling a meeting to discuss what to do in the event of the governor calling for a lockdown. I remember thinking, “This won’t last,” and her laughing at me. It is amazing to think that I thought the lockdown would end in a few weeks and everything would be back to normal.
As with most businesses, PSI was forced to investigate remote working for our employees. We had to look at each employee’s desk, their daily tasks, and figure out what remote working would look like to each member of the PSI family. What additional equipment would they need? Are they able to work fully remote or does part of their job require them to be in the office? How can we continue to support our staff working remotely and continue an “open-door” policy? Can we effectively communicate with our residents and volunteer board members from our homes? We knew all these questions, and more, would have to be answered before we moved forward. Fortunately, with the great leadership in place at PSI, we were able to adapt quickly.
With PSI’s software change in March 2019, PSI was already utilizing the best technology available to assist owners and board members remotely. An online portal provided an easy way for residents to, among other things, place maintenance requests, review the association’s documents, and view their account status. The systems for automated escalation and tracking of work allowed for PSI to continue to provide the same great service and response time our residents and homeowner board members grew accustomed to over the years. Since PSI had recently transitioned its resources to the cloud, all that was left was to ensure that our staff had the right equipment to access it from the safety of their own home. Thus, we began a scramble to purchase everything we needed; from laptops to monitors to headsets, we gathered everything we could. Between that and the equipment that was already in the office we were able to situate all our staff comfortably in their homes, in a nearly seamless transition.
We joke that we should have purchased stock in Zoom at the onset of the pandemic. A year ago, most of us had very limited exposure to, or knowledge of, Zoom. Nowadays, all meetings and gatherings are held virtually. Board Members, homeowners, and managers alike are seeing the benefits of this change. Meetings no longer need to be held at night during most people’s “family time”, they can be held at 5pm, or in some cases, during the business day. There is no longer commute time to and from a meeting. Associations, across the board, have seen increased attendance and participation at meetings since owners can now attend from anywhere. Not to say we do not all miss in-person gatherings but there are clearly benefits to holding meetings virtually. One thing I personally miss the most is shaking hands, instead we can only wave.
I truly believe that having to go through this crisis has made us all stronger. Policies and procedures have changed and adapted. Every day, more associations have adopted electronic communication policies within their governing documents. Many of us have learned how to work from home and have adapted to supporting each other from a distance. We are not sure if this “new normal” is here to stay but you can rest assured that we will continue to persevere and remain as dedicated as ever to our clients!