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  • Aug 25, 2020
  • Guest blog by Pepe Gutierrez, CEO, Megafincas Alicante
  • Comments (2)

In a global pandemic, we find property managers are more alike than different

To speak of COVID-19 or the global pandemic is to speak of a global crisis. Therefore, when it comes to building management we must also have a global concept in mind, while recognizing that implementation is local.

We remember the time before COVID -19, and the normalcy we welcomed and enjoyed. And we have a present that has affected the entire world and created an uncertain future.  We’re unsure when post-COVID life will begin, with a vaccine included, and what will become the new normal.

The impact of social isolation

During this period of isolation, we’ve witnessed positive values displayed by our residents, such as solidarity in helping the weakest and most vulnerable in the moments when this is most needed, and from people who until now were strangers. But also, selfishness and intolerance have been magnified, making it clear not everyone values solidarity. Deaths, infections, hardships, and lack of basic necessities are easily forgotten; some only think about themselves and their interests.

What has marked the reopening of our buildings and businesses is forgetfulness among a great majority of residents who’ve forgotten what they’ve gone through, or what they’re still experiencing. Some seem to forget that many building expectations have not been met because it was not possible due to the focus on caring for and protecting the lives of tenants and residents.

Property managers are improvising while using good judgement

This pandemic has truly taught us how to improvise, given that few property managers have had experience with this type of emergency; the last pandemic of this scale took place more than 100 years ago, and under very different circumstances. Therefore, improvisation has been necessary globally and locally. In the same way, as property managers, we’ve also had to improvise with regard to poorly written pandemic guidelines, possibly due to haste or lack of experience. Some of these guidelines are not focused on community life, and are unclear as to what should or shouldn’t be done in our buildings. Above all, in addition to pandemic guides, there’s a need to use good judgement to limit the consequences of liability for infections.

Many new guidelines and regulations, but a lack of consistency

Many countries are divided into jurisdictional regions or state, as is the case with the United States. Each state is allowed to issue its own legislation, which has led to a lack of consistency on how to fight the virus. Situations have arisen where what is allowed in one state is not allowed in the next. The United States has not been the only country to employ this practice. In Spain, for example, the country has issued more than 100 regulations in 100 days.

At the same time, misinformation is rising. Some are taking advantage of the situation, be it politically, economically, through cybercrime, or simply to generate rumors and misleading news for individual benefit, or to create widespread harm.

An increased reliance on technology

One thing we’ve learned is that COVID-19 hasn’t been the trigger for the necessary use of technology – it’s been the accelerator of something that could have progressed in a decade, but has done so in just a few months. Children have not been able to attend school in person, but have done so through online platforms. Most workers whose tasks can be performed online have worked remotely. The use of currency and the handling of paper money has been reduced globally, and according to Bloomberg CityLab, there’s has been a drastic reduction in mobility to the workplace, stores, parks, etc. within every country.

Growing importance of property managers

The role of the property manager has been elevated to the point that, in certain countries, they’ve been classified as essential workers. This is understandable considering that with stay-at-home orders, people are staying in their homes more than ever before. This confinement has increased the need for frequent cleaning, maintenance, security, and above all, control and management of the building by the property manager.

As we plan to reopen and approach a new normal, property managers must understand what is allowed in their buildings, and be aware of up-to-date recommendations for wellness and safety. Making this information available in a visual format, such as an infographic, facilitates communication to building occupants and helps ensure speedy adoption by tenants, residents, and staff. It’s also recommended to share building protocols and updates digitally - by email and videoconference such as Zoom, which have been used exponentially in this pandemic.

Fighting the virus with effective communications

Based on a review of COVID-19 infographics and information available to more than 25 countries (most of them in Latin America), I can affirm that despite different models, the use of images has taken precedence in conveying information on what can be done and, above all, what must be done concerning sanitation, social distancing, masks, and other safety practices. Some visual designs are more effective than others, but they share a common goal of ending the pandemic.

Finally, I want to emphasize that this pandemic has shown the countries that have fought it best and most effectively have been the most disciplined, and have used technology as a lethal weapon against the virus.

This is why there’s been an exponential increase in the use of mobile phones for almost everything, from information about the virus to smart building technologies. All this with the device we no longer go without - the cellphone. It’s the property manager’s best friend, as so many of the activities required to manage a building and stay in touch with building occupants, staff and vendors can be carried out through mobile devices.

Facing an uncertain future

While it’s difficult to imagine a post-COVID world at this moment, we can build a new world based on what this virus has taught us, keep building on our lessons learned, and remain optimistic as we head into the future.

Comments

Glad to see emphasis on quality property management which leads to tenant retention and a property’s economic health.

Reply

Thanks Alice for your comments

Reply


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