The pandemic has widened the divides between rich and poor, white collar and blue collar workers, rural dwellers and urban ones, and more. It has also introduced new disparities; one of which being wealth of time. Those now fulfilling their full time roles at home but with kids in tow to teach are facing 20 hour days to get everything done; while approximately 2.2 million employed people now on furlough have an abundance of free time on their hands to garden, take up yoga or bake banana bread if they wish.
For us here at Town & City Management Ltd, it’s still very much business as usual and every one of us is keeping busy each day serving clients, even if it’s done from the comfort of our own homes. We have found, however, that the lockdown and the way we responded to it has given us back several hours each and every day. Thanks to modern technology, we’re able to meet with clients and residents virtually, saving us significant travel time. What’s more, the trusted suppliers still operating on each of our sites to fulfil essential maintenance and repair services during lockdown have also been able to carry out site checks on our behalf, giving us peace of mind that everything is as it should be.
What have we done with this new time we’ve gained? Well, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to reinvest it back into ourselves. From taking up new sporting pursuits to maintain a positive attitude and a sharp mind for work, to gaining new qualifications or doing online training, we’ve been making the most of this time. Here’s what we’ve been doing.
Increasing our knowledge and expertise
If you follow our LinkedIn page, you’ll have seen a few weeks ago that one of our apprentices, Lewis Poole, completed his AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting with a Merit. But he’s not the only member of the TCML team taking on new qualifications.
Matthew Harris, one of our Regional Property Managers, has been continuing with his business administration course studies throughout lockdown and is also poised to start another one – a new Build to Rent course provided by the IRPM – very soon.
David Holland, another TCML Property Manager, has completed his CIH and IRPM qualifications since we have been in lockdown and to his delight and ours, passed them with distinction. After working towards these for 18 months, it is an incredible achievement. But he’s not stopping there: he’s already signed up for CIH Level 4.
Not only that, but both he and Matthew have also been taking full advantage of the weekly updates and webinars provided by ARMA, the IRPM and surveyor firms such as Earl Kendrick and FlixFlow, among others. Commenting on the training, David said, “It has really increased my knowledge and the perfect time to get crucial information from industry experts. I am very lucky to work for an employer who has such a heavy focus on training and personal development.”
Finding more efficient ways of working for the long term
It would be hard to find someone who hasn’t done a Zoom video call over the last six weeks. And with residents meetings, team catch ups, quiz nights and even a video call with an elderly grandparent, the TCML team have become experts in the software.
It seems to be the general consensus that this technology will greatly improve how the majority of businesses operate, increasing levels of productivity significantly. With the team having spent considerable periods of time travelling to resident meetings and then evenings driving back down the motorway afterwards pre-lockdown, it may be that there will be an increase in the use of video calls for TCML on a permanent basis.
Getting to grips with virtual meetings may have involved a steep learning curve for property manager Gemma Woodford, but she’s now really enjoying them. She said, “I hope future meetings can be set up in this manner to make it easier for those leaseholders who can’t always attend meetings.”
Another effect of the lockdown has been a decrease in the volume of emails received by team members, giving us more time to plan, organise, catch up on non-urgent items and increase client care.
For Sarah Jones, one of our property managers and a keen swimmer, the lockdown prevented her from keeping fit in the way she wanted and she was forced to find an alternative form of exercise quickly. Used to training up to five times a week in the pool, Sarah knew that a significant drop in physical activity would affect her wellbeing and focus at work. “Swimming in the morning certainly helped to set me up for the day, and was around an hour of each day of just ‘me time’, where I got the opportunity to think of nothing else but the next competition that I was training for and the water around me. Fortunately, in the run up to the lockdown, one of our Contractors loaned me a road bike to train for a Triathlon and I have been alternating cycling with running on a daily basis to manage stress, keep focused, fit and sane,” she told us.
David Holland is also quite an athlete and was due to run the London Marathon last month. He has found the ability to continue to run and get fresh air during the lockdown invaluable. He said, “I hope it will motivate others to keep up their fitness once this is all over. It takes something as simple as a short walk to make a difference to one’s mental health.”
On the job compassion practice
We’ve always put our clients first but with the lockdown dramatically affecting people’s behaviour, patience and mental health, a recent webinar on how to manage clients in times of stress has been really helpful. Sarah Jones explained, “it was explained to us that many people will be going through the five stages of grief and looking back at it now, many of our Lessees have followed this cycle. It has certainly been hard at times to try and deal with your own ups and downs in relation to Covid-19, whilst also trying to appease and placate others and we’ve acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience in handling these situations both effectively and empathetically.”
The role of a property manager encompasses many different professions, part surveyor, part lawyer, accountant and mediator and we’re gaining a lot of experience in all of them during lockdown.
What new skills or habits are you forming during lockdown?