Just like any property management company, our on the ground property services team is the backbone of our business.
Their dedicated attention to servicing and maintaining our homes is what allows us to create a stress-free and community-focused environment for all of our members. No matter how busy we might be, the health and safety of everyone in the Common community is always our top priority. Since we’re managing a team of property service employees across the country in seven different US cities, our approach has been to be as proactive as possible to protect our team and members across the board. We wanted to share what we’ve learned along the way and what systems we’ve put in place during the COVID-19 outbreak to help other property management or service-focused employers still operating during this time.
We sat down with CJ Cintron, Common’s Senior Manager of Property Services, to pick her brain on how we are taking extra precautions to keep our field employees protected while still providing a quality service to our members. CJ has extensive background managing properties for large US real estate companies including Greystar, and always puts the needs and health of her staff as a top priority.
Hi CJ! To start off, can you tell us more about what type of equipment we’re requiring our employees to wear to protect themselves and our members?
Our very first initiative when we heard of the outbreak, was to implement requirements to protect both our staff and our members from potential exposure. We required all of our property staff to wear disposable latex gloves and a facemask, follow CDC guidelines, wash hands for 20 seconds immediately after leaving a member’s space, and use hand sanitizer throughout the day. I’m constantly checking for new updates from the CDC, so all of our protection guidelines are subject to change, but at this time I’m confident that we’re doing everything we can to minimize our risk of exposure.
Besides these personal protections, how else have we adapted our property services?
We’ve completely reconstructed our property service tasks to minimize contact between members and our staff. For instance, our team is only handling emergency work orders, such as toilet malfunctions, broken appliances, or heating/AC issues, to maintain social distancing. Our team has also postponed move-out room inspections and is only focusing on prepping vacant suites with a confirmed move-in date.
In addition, we’ve minimized contact when refilling shared goods in members’ suites. To prepare our members with extra supplies while staying at home, we’ve increased hand soap, dish soap, toilet paper, and paper towel deliveries to each suite. However, instead of refilling the supplies themselves, our property services team now gathers all the supplies and leaves the entire package within the common spaces of the suite or in the hallway for the members to put away themselves.
Common has always offered free weekly cleanings of shared spaces. What does this look like in the current situation?
Cleanings are now both conducted by our property service staff and our cleaning company. We’ve increased the cleaning of high-touch areas, such as common areas, mailboxes, entrances, etc., to multiple times a day, and make sure the trash gets sorted a few times throughout the day. In addition, we also switched our cleaning products to hydrogen peroxide and Clorox based solutions, which are stronger than some of the multi-purpose products we were using before.
What are the challenges of managing a service-focused team during this time?
I feel immensely blessed to have such a hard-working team! There have been zero complaints from our property service staff, and our members have voiced that they appreciate the proactive approach. The biggest challenge is trying to provide a quality service to our members without putting anyone in jeopardy of potential exposure at the same time. To minimize any issues with local governments, we also drafted a letter for the team to have on hand saying they are essential workers.
Another challenge is helping out our staff that have children at home! If someone needs to stay home or work different hours to be home with their kids, we accommodate all of their needs. The health of our staff and their families definitely has to come first at a time like this.