While ‘working-from-home’ is fast becoming the norm for people around the world, you might start wondering what other aspects of your life are going to make a move to online. The fact that meetings and regular discussions are happening virtually means that all kinds of businesses and representatives need to adapt to this ‘next normal’.

The same is true for trustees and the body corporate in a sectional title scheme. Many residents may probably feel more comfortable with remote discussions, rather than the usual face-to-face meetings.

We’ll discuss how to hold a sectional title AGM remotely so that you can get back to your regular schedule without any further interruptions!

What is a sectional title AGM?

For those not familiar with the lingo, a sectional title AGM refers to an ‘annual general meeting’ for all of the owners, trustees and managing agents within a sectional title scheme. 

A sectional title scheme refers to the ownership of individual units or ‘sections’ within a property, such as an apartment or complex unit. In essence, a sectional title owner can enjoy common property within their larger scheme, such as a park, pool or braai area. 

The sectional title AGM is held to discuss all matters relating to the sectional title scheme itself. From going through the budget to discussing big upcoming maintenance projects. One of the main events at the AGM is the election/nomination of trustees from the body corporate

Thinking about becoming a trustee? Here’s a few things to consider first.

As an owner, it’s good practice to attend the AGMs to voice your concerns surrounding anything relating to your property.

Are remote AGM’s really the future?

As life starts to creep back to including more face-to-face interactions, will many of the online practices that we so quickly adapted to carry on? Is there still a need to hold remote AGM’s?

Keith Baitman, MD at BlueGrass, says yes. Reason being, the attendance of their remote AGM’s has been far higher than their face-to-face meetings.

“We held a homeowners association meeting and had 12 out of 14 owners attend, where previously we would have about six people attend. The same happened with a sectional title scheme AGM, where we had 19 out of 22 owners attend where we normally just get enough attendance to make the quorum.”

From a business perspective, Keith says that holding remote AGM’s is much better for them and that they’ll likely carry on.

What’s the best way to set up a remote AGM?

Keith, who has held a fair share of remote AGM meetings, says that the main requirement is having a system that has a built-in function for recording the discussions. That, and having a backup plan in case technology fails you (which it so often does).

Here are a few steps to follow when setting up your first remote sectional title AGM:

1. Get a reliable internet connection

You’re going to need a reliable internet connection before you can host or attend any meetings. You will also need to have a computer, laptop or a tablet/smartphone. It might be worth upgrading your internet connection to at least 10mbps to handle the bandwidth required for a remote session.

2. Choose your software

Then you need to decide which software you want to use to hold your meeting. Some of the most popular internet video conferencing software you can choose from include Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype and Microsoft Teams. 

Do your research to figure out which software is right for you. Generally, most of these options will provide a free version that may limit either the amount of time the meeting can last or the number of users that can join. 

If this is going to become a regular thing, then you might consider paying for a premium subscription which removes restrictions and makes it easier to get started with your sectional title AGM.

3. Test everything

Before you start circulating any meeting invitations, test that your internet is fast and that the meeting software is working correctly on your computer. You don’t want to run into any issues on the day of the session! Spend some time playing around on the software to make yourself familiar with it.

4. Send out invitations

Once you’re happy with your connection, invite the body corporate. Make sure that you include the meeting name, joining code and password for the meeting, if applicable. Stick to your usual time slot – evenings are generally best.

5. Set guidelines

Set guidelines for attendees to follow, for example, muting microphones. A major issue in remote meetings is distractions of kids playing in the background or loud TV’s. Make it a rule that all attendees need to keep their mics muted when they are not talking.

Communicating during the sectional title AGM 

While a remote sectional title AGM may seem different, the order of operations will generally remain the same.

Make sure that whoever is running the meeting, either the managing agent or a particular trustee, has a clear and firm voice. They are responsible for leading most of the online discussions. 

Additionally, you may want to integrate some new elements into your remote meeting. For example, you could choose software that has an integrated chat feature like Zoom or Google Hangouts, which are used for asking and answering questions as they arise.

Most video conferencing platforms will give you the option to share your screen to everyone in the meeting. This feature is particularly useful for going through the proposed budget or sharing information on your property management software.

If you want to take it a step further, you could send out a poll or questions ahead of the meeting. You could do this using Google Forms, Survey Monkey or Typeform.

Remote sectional title AGM

Should I use video for my sectional title AGM?

“The chairman has an obligation to make sure that all attendees are the ones that actually need to be there,” says Keith. “The bigger the schemes, the more difficult this can get.”

This is where video comes in handy as you can easily see who is attending the meeting and that all of them are actually owners within the sectional title scheme. 

Though, while video calling adds a personal element to any conversation, it can use up a lot of bandwidth. Some members with slow internet connections may need to turn off their video.

While not needed for the meeting, you can decide whether to use video calling or not. Most likely, you’ll find that some members of the body corporate will turn their webcams off during the meeting. 

Regardless of whether you choose to use this option or not, it’s a feature to remember if you want to add a more personal touch to the conversation.

What about online voting?

There are a few reasons why online voting is actually better than in-person:

• Voting count online, opposed to raising hands, is more accurate as it’s computer generated.
• People have time to think about their answer, meaning more thought is put into their vote.
• Participants are not influenced by everyone else in the room. As a person on their own they can give a true answer which is a more accurate vote.

Ready to take your AGM’s remotely?

There are a lot of things to remember when hosting a sectional title AGM remotely and you’ll need to do some preparation before you can get started.

As with most things in life, it’ll take some time to get the hang of it. It’s all about trial and error – from the best software to use to who the best person is to take charge of the meeting.

The success of your remote AGM will also depend on the people in the body corporate. For example, sectional titles where the average age of owners is between 30 – 45 will likely adapt much easier than those where the average age is 65+.

All in all, while it’s challenging to start navigating to remote meetings, it’s doable. And it might just turn out to be a long-term thing!

If you want to discuss managing your sectional title responsibilities, get in touch with Unity today.