If you want to ask your neighbor how their kids’ virtual school is going, don’t.
If you are a parent, you know why. Every day you wake up at 5:00am to open the 10+ tabs it takes to get virtual school started, you’re interrupted every hour with one technical issue after another, you can’t figure out how to get the homework assignment submitted (even though the submit button is right there), and – because of all the time you spent helping your kids during the workday – you don’t complete your actual work tasks until well past midnight.
Working parents are struggling, and that likely makes up a majority of the residents within your HOAs. An estimated 69 percent of all employees are experiencing burnout symptoms, yet 59 percent are taking less time off this year out of fear of losing their job. At the same time, one out of every three kids are losing reading and math skills because of the lack of effectiveness of remote learning, and we have yet to fully appreciate the effects of increased anxiety and depression over time. Worst of all, we simply do not know when this will end.
So, what does this have to do with you and your HOA boards? Plenty.
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Whether this pandemic has been a minor distress or a life-changing devastation, for the first time in our lives we are all experiencing collective trauma – and when left unchecked, collective trauma can manifest into a collective disdain for one another. It’s even worse when we’re all stuck at home together, being constantly reminded of each other’s microaggressions. The eclectic music that your neighbor plays while grilling may suddenly sound like a backyard Bonnaroo Festival. The neighbor across the street who seems to never place their garbage can on the right side of the driveway may be your new mortal enemy. We can’t control much of the world as a whole right now, so naturally we’ll aim to exercise control over the slightest details. For you, that means more violation notices, more ACC requests, and more HOA meeting eruptions.
HOA boards have the opportunity to step up as the leaders who create a standard of excellence for neighborhood communication and community. Here are five easy ways to make a positive impact within your communities:
- Create a way you can help neighbors in need. No matter what, everyone needs help in some shape or form. Perhaps you are elderly or immunocompromised and need your groceries picked up, or perhaps a socially distanced classroom “pod” would greatly alleviate technical support needs. When your board takes the initiative in ensuring that neighbors are able to support each other with their specific needs, you create a sense of community over contempt.
- Promote giving back to local organizations. Over 100,000 small businesses have closed as a result of the pandemic thus far, and the number is only going to escalate. Yet local businesses are the cornerstone of neighborhood camaraderie. As a board, you can promote local businesses around your neighborhood and ask your residents to show their support. Perhaps you can send a delivery from the local bagel shop for all attendees of your next HOA meeting (even if virtual), or you can offer to email special promotions from surrounding businesses. If residents are able to feel as though they are supporting another business owner for the greater good, they’ll have a better sense of purpose that will alleviate irritation over aggressions.
- Share random acts of kindness. Honestly, do we have any news beyond the usual doom and gloom? The negative and fear-mongering themes of news outlets will certainly put a damper on your residents’ attitudes. When you see acts of kindness happening in your local community, be sure to share them loud and proud. Whether it’s a group of kids helping an elder neighbor with their groceries or someone taking care of a stranded pet, it’s a good idea to get the word out that there is good happening in our society.
- Invest in psychological support. It’s well known that people who have psychological support tools tend to overcome trauma with less chance of PTSD. Promoting modest community gatherings can uplift your residents, even if the gatherings need to be virtual or socially distant. Religious groups, athletic events and outdoor yoga sessions are all supportive events that you can easily organize. It’s also likely that you have a local park who is executing such events already, so you may be able to simply promote these events to your residents through your online channels and HOA meetings.
- Finally, over-communicate. Regular, real-time communication will put your residents at ease. Keep continuous updates about community area openings and social distancing guidelines on your website, even if the update is simply that there is no update. Using CINC’s custom web portal makes it easy to update your residents within minutes, and we highly recommend taking more advantage than ever. It may also be wise to ensure that more than one board member is responsible for resident communications during this time, as the responsibility can be daunting for just one person.
Even in times of intense uncertainty, a simple neighborly reach-out can make all the difference for someone in need. We believe that implementing these five small gestures within your HOA communities will build a support network amongst your residents that will make a huge impact, even beyond 2020.