by Kimberly Cameron
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused innumerable disruptions to the lives of multifamily residents. While many of the impacts are obvious, other influences of the health crisis aren’t quite so surface level.
It wasn’t just community amenities and common areas that became off-limits to residents, it was their places of business and educational institutions. As more residents have been forced to work or take classes from home, their needs have evolved. Residents now require in-home offices, or study nooks and/or socially-distanced workspaces within their communities. While multifamily is beginning to respond to those needs, new construction and retrofit projects aren’t completed overnight.
So, what are some of the more subtle pain points that work-from-home residents are experiencing that can be addressed immediately?
Replace What is Missing
The best place for operators to start is to ask themselves, “Aside from workspaces, what did employers and schools provide that residents no longer have access to?”
For many residents, the immediate answer is reliable high-speed internet service. In a November 2020 survey conducted by SatisFacts, Working From Apartments: What Residents Say They Need, 54.5% of responding residents said that high-speed internet, a baseline requirement for any remote work or schooling to be conducted, provided by their community would help to address many of the challenges they are currently facing.
According to the survey, almost as vital to residents is wireless self-service printing, copying and scanning. It was the No. 2 item on residents’ wish lists, with 50% of survey respondents reporting that a wireless self-serve printing amenity would help to meet their needs. Those services are often taken for granted in the office place or school setting, but they clearly play a crucial role in allowing employees and students to conduct business and education remotely.
In fact, 40.8% of survey respondents said they would pay more to make printing, copying and scanning services available, which makes sense considering that 31.5% of residents indicated that they need to print more than 25 pages each month.
Remove On-Site Associates from the Solution
Residents’ current printing, copying and scanning demands probably don’t come as a surprise to on-site teams. After all, they’re generally the ones conducting those tasks on behalf of residents.
According to the SatisFacts Survey, 32.2% of residents have experienced an increase in their printing needs since they started working or schooling from home. At most properties, which only have one office printer, on-site associates are getting bombarded with resident printing requests.
Purchasing a resident printer would seem to be a logical option, but it still requires on-site teams to keep it stocked with paper, maintain ink and toner levels and handle any required maintenance or repairs. Due to the increased printer usage at apartment communities, maintaining a printer for resident use is a full-time proposition.
A third-party solution – through which the printer is supplied and maintained – relieves teams of those duties. Residents can print wirelessly from their own digital device, and the printing technology partner keeps it stocked and serviceable for residents.
Identifying and addressing those missing pieces of the work-from-home puzzle makes the current situation viable for residents. Just as importantly, it demonstrates empathy on the part of the community. Even as access to some amenities is being restricted, other amenities are being introduced to make their lives easier. In times like these, it’s those little things that matter.