Before 2020, the property management world relied heavily on face-to-face interactions. Portfolio management teams shared offices, trustees had weekly in-person meetings, and all residents gathered together for the AGMs.

Now, portfolio managers are working remotely, trustees no longer meet on a weekly basis, and AGMs have moved online. The dynamics of each of these relationships has changed. And if not managed well, these new dynamics can lead to extremely frustrating situations.

We’ve noticed that our clients are looking for easier ways to navigate the various relationships within their business. They want to make online communication easier and more efficient. Which has led to many starting to use our community portal in new ways. Largely to ease the aggravations that come with communicating online.

Why the drive to using community portals?

Online community portals aren’t new concepts. They’ve been around for a while, but it’s only now that they’ve become essential for maintaining a healthy communication stream.

As we’re living more of our lives online, frustrations are higher when communication isn’t working. As time goes on, we’re noticing more ways that we’re not able to communicate anymore.

We now have fewer opportunities for informal communication – no more regular catch-ups in the coffee room or quick ‘did you call so-and-so’ follow-ups while passing a colleague on the way to the restroom. 

We’re also missing out on eavesdropping. Not in the gossipy sense, but in the way that a manager is able to keep tabs on what their employees have been busy with during the day as they’re physically seeing/hearing it all go down. As a manager, you didn’t have to follow up with your employees about whether they made a certain call as you heard them make that call. 

These physical interactions were how your business culture was formed. This isn’t happening anymore, which leaves a gap in your culture of communication.

This is where community portals come in. Community portals are your new company culture. Your new standard of how things are done in your business and how you ensure that there’s no slip in communication.

Why is communication culture so important?

Because the standard drops when you don’t have a standard. As new people join your business, what type of culture can you pass onto them? How do they learn about your business, including the processes, the standards and the general way of working?

The only culture that businesses have keeping their business together right now, is data. Your data, and how you use it, is the backbone of your business.

There’s a level of analysis and tracking that we never needed before because of what we used to see in our normal working environment. Systems are now there to create the essence of unity in a business. By putting systems in place, everyone in your organisation will have the same way of doing things. A shared standard of working.

What’s the best way to manage your online communities? 

To make best use of your online communities, they need some structure. You can’t just have one big, open online portal that everyone has access to. You need to set up different community portals, with different people, for different reasons.

So, what community would you like to create?

Ask yourself, which relationships in your business will be made easier with a community portal? Who do you really need to talk to and who would benefit by creating a ring fenced communication stream?

In a property portfolio managers world, you can create separate communities for each area of your business, including:

  • Trustees: for trustees to log queries on the complex or on other units, to do invoice/payment approvals and to have an overview of what is happening in their complex.
  • Internal staff: for all internal staff to keep track of their daily operations, share information and have an easy overview of what everyone is doing.
  • Vendors: for vendors to send through their invoices and for you to track projects with third-party contractors.
  • All residents in complexes: for residents to log queries on their individual unit and to follow the updates.

Each of these community portals need to be customised according to the users and the needs of that portal. 

In Unity, permissions are fully customisable. You can create closed communities and limit the functionalities as needed. For example, some of the functionalities that can be limited for certain users include:

  • View tickets only (relevant for tenants).
  • View and log tickets for specific units only (relevant for unit owners).
  • View and log tickets for all units (relevant for trustees).
  • View, log and comment on tickets (relevant for portfolio managers).

The various permissions granted will depend on where the data currently sits, is it with the management agent or the body corporate?

A community portal is a streamlined, open communication stream

A community portal with your trustees is a great way for the trustees to fully get a handle on what is going on in their complex. As the portfolio manager, you no longer need to send regular management reports to your trustees – as they can log on and view it themselves at any time.

Your trustees are also able to have a deeper view and analysis of their complex. From how the work is split up, for example how much time is spent on maintenance versus security, to projects currently on the go.

Not only does this nurture the relationship between property manager and trustees, but it makes projects run smoother and more efficiently.

As the portfolio manager, a community portal is the best way to streamline the masses of queries that come your way on a daily basis. Instead of multiple emails, WhatsApp messages and phone calls from trustees, residents, vendors and colleagues – you have one, central place to receive all queries. A place that is organised, easy to follow, and automated for efficiency. 

Benefits and uses of the Unity community portal

Here’s what the Unity community portal can do:

  • Automatically import residents’ contact details.
  • Invite residents to their online community portal.
  • Store and share documents for all community members to access like body corporate rules, templates, forms and notices.
  • Send a link to access AGM packs.
  • Within the portal, residents can log their query with a ticket.
  • Portfolio managers can acknowledge receipt of the ticket in their own time (for example, during dedicated hours rather than being constantly interrupted).
  • Trustees can view the status of an update on past, planned and scheduled work within the scheme.
  • At a glance, decision makers and team leaders can view operational efficiencies per scheme, vendor or internal team.

There is unity in a community, and that community is now online.