Coronavirus: Proactiveness key for community managers to protect communities amid spread of COVID-19

Three60 Communities looks at why transparency is vital for community management companies at this time

It has become common knowledge recently that preparedness and the ability to proactively respond to a rapidly-developing health situation such as the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can hugely contribute to the efforts of health authorities to stop the virus from infecting many more people.

Looking at how this applies to freehold and leasehold communities, community management companies play an important role in ensuring that each individual community and its residents are prepared to face any such outbreak. Ensuring the health and safety of people within these communities needs to be considered by all stakeholders as a critical role of such companies, and the current pandemic has brought this issue to the top of the agenda for the industry.

Establishing a clear response plan, taking into consideration the guidance of global and local health authorities, and taking proactive steps during such an outbreak, can greatly enhance the efforts to protect the community residents as well as the management company’s staff on site.

Alan Rowlands, General Manager, Three60 Communities, said: “Transparency is vital for community management companies like ours to enable us to effectively respond to the situation in a building or within a whole community. Our priority is the health and safety of our employees and the communities we serve and manage, including our clients, partners and prospective customers.”

Eltizam Asset Management Group, which owns Three60 Communities, has been implementing a number of precautionary measures across the workplaces and communities under its management. It has also been raising awareness and reminding people on how to stay safe and reduce exposure to infection.

“We have been conducting regular digital and onsite campaigns highlighting the necessary steps that individuals must take to reduce the chances of contracting the virus, as well as organizing briefing sessions with our staff working at various locations, so they are informed about the facts and the local directives in each Emirate, enabling them to take the required precautions,” Rowlands added.

Rowlands continued: “A key challenge was reducing the need for interaction between our staff and customers (e.g. in offices) while maintaining the same levels of service. We had to rethink how to deliver many, if not all of our services through online platforms where customers can still interact with us from the safety of their homes. At the end of the day, this protects the customer and our staff by aligning to social distancing recommendations.”

His company works closely with Eltizam’s facilities management subsidiary Tafawuq in the rapid deployment of more stringent hygiene and sanitizing practices in the communities it manages. Three60 Communities has widely distributed hand sanitizers to community residents along with clear instructions on the usage and proper disposal of tissues, sanitizer wipes, among others especially when coughing and sneezing.

Enhancing the cleaning and sanitizing procedures in offices and communities are highly important as people come and go, while increasing the frequency of cleaning services help ensure that facilities and premises are disinfected, and thereby reducing the risks to people’s health.

Rowlands noted that it is important to share health and hygiene tips of established entities such as theirs to the public as this can give them better ideas on how to implement such practices within their homes and neighborhoods.  “Sharing of important practices and preparedness is being responsible and transparent as that also gives a clear idea for our customers, clients and suppliers on how to deal with us, and thus minimize the risk and still manage to continue our business amid the global situation.”

In light of the coronavirus spread, the company has also temporarily limited the non-essential business visits from vendors, clients, and suppliers to avoid unnecessary human interaction for community residents and staff. Technology has provided huge support and contines to play a big role in supporting non-contact business operations through remote work arrangements.

Eltizam has properly set up the automation of many internal processes, which eliminated paper use as well as enabled staff to work remotely in events such as the current global pandemic.

“We have recently conducted a remote work test for all employees to ensure the systems put in place are functional and to test remote working preparedness to provide customer service continuity. In light of the situation, we are leaning even more heavily into remote if and when the need arises. Based on our study, 89 per cent of employees said they were equally productive and more productive working remotely.”

The company has also cancelled large-scale upcoming events, both internal and external, including events in community pools, gyms, and other common areas in compliance with the directives from local authorities. The company reiterated the importance of strictly adhering to all government guidelines and closely monitoring the situation within its communities, the country and internationally.

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