How to Stay Connected While Social Distancing

Social distancing and quarantine makes staying connected to our circle of influence a challenge in this strange new world. These tips and tools can help landlords and property managers rise to the challenge and navigate around the pitfalls of isolation.  

Social Distancing

Oxymoron if ever there was one. Bringing these two disparate concepts together not only requires wrapping minds around why it’s vitally important to create distance but also the significant role our social lives have on the physical, psychological, and even financial well-being of us all. 

Aside from the rare solitarian, extroverts and introverts alike need social connection. Albeit, it can be contended that even a declared recluse needs connection in some manner to maintain good mental health. 

So here we stand as a planet, country, industry, community, and individual needing to connect while apart. Oxymoronic indeed – yet very do-able with the right tools in hand and some creative ideas to try. 

Distancing Tools and Resources

Now that a small office space has been carved out to work from home in a productive environment it’s time to find the right tools to stay connected to our circle of influence; namely tenants, owners, employees, coworkers, friends and family.  

Check out these few communication and connection apps and programs that are free or offer free versions to help bridge the social distancing gap: 

An Apple product, Facetime allows iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users to connect by video in a playful manner with many camera effects to make the call fun. Group FaceTime has the same capabilities but allows for larger groups of up to 32. Both available only in the Apple App Store 

A video and web conferencing software designed for business collaboration. It offers screen sharing and in-meeting chat features. The free version allows up to 40 minute meetings with up to 3 additional participants. 

Google Duo is similar to using FaceTime but allows up to 8 participants. Google also offers a few other options such as Google Hangouts; an encrypted conferencing and chat portal for larger groups. Both Duo and Hangouts are available to use on both Android and Apple products.   

A Microsoft company, Skype has many paid product offerings to help connect and engage. However, their free conference calling allows for unlimited meetings with many helpful features to stay connected. 

Work spaces, private channels, direct messaging, emojis, and many add-ons, Slack is an incredible tool for connecting with just about anyone. The free version allows up to 10 apps and integrations, one on one video conferencing, two-factor authentication for security, and is searchable up to 10k most current messages.

This online software is designed for meetings and collaboration. The free version includes meetings up to 100 participants, call-in audio, an unlimited number of meetings, file and whiteboard sharing, and more.

Designed for messaging one-on-one or in small or large groups (up to 256 people at once) with many features such as sending a voice message, sharing documents and files (up to 100MB each), and works on both Apple and Android products as well as online.

A cloud-based company built for online meetings and audio and video conferencing and webinars. Zoom offers a free version with screen sharing and other features for up to 100 participants, unlimited amount of meetings with a limit of 40 minutes for group meetings. 

Video chat conferencing while social distancing

Connecting with Tenants During Emergencies and Crisis

Absence, with concerted effort, may make the heart grow fonder. But more than likely left alone, an absence of communication, direction, and connection can contribute to stress, misinformation, costly mistakes, loneliness, and even panic.

Tenants are in need of reassurance that all will be well and that there is someone they can rely on when crisis strikes. Many renters are college students, solitary residents, senior citizens and the like who may not have anyone nearby for support. That can be frightening. 

Landlords often take on the role of a trusted guide in times of concern. Being able to connect quickly with your residents to disseminate important information and direction, as well as provide some friendly guidance and care along the way, can ease their worried souls and even bridge a relationship which may even result in lower tenant turnover rates. 

How to Communicate with Tenants and Owners Quickly

Property management software tools should make communications with your tenants and owners quick and easy. Commonly you’ll find you can create email templates and send out an email blast. It’s also helpful to have software that allows you to send SMS/text messages. 

Another way to connect quickly with tenants and owners is to set up Facebook private groups for tenants; not only for you to provide one place for all information but also for building a community. Some landlords use Facebook groups as a substitute for creating a newsletter.

TIP: Invest in a property management software with online access to tenant contact information at your fingertips. 

Employee Morale, Productivity, and Connection 

Private landlords with small portfolios may not have employees on staff. Likely though, a rental company or property management business may. If you have employees, and especially during this time of self-quarantine and social distancing, it’s important to develop a culture of trust and empathy first and the remote aspect of work a close second. 

Simon Sinek, a self-proclaimed unshakable optimist, champions leaders to see the long-game and build resilience in their teams through trust and empathy. Check out these Simon Sinek free videos, podcasts, and articles to find inspiration for leadership and team building. 

As a leader, you can lead by example and encourage your team to connect in ways they may not have thought of which will inspire productivity, team building, and even personal growth. Here are some ways you can inspire

Take Breaks
Encourage your employees working from home to take breaks. They are necessary for mental and physical health and are shown to improve morale and productivity. 

Door Is Always Open
Consider starting a virtual ‘door is always open’ policy with your employees. Knowing you are available to listen will pay dividends in building morale. 

Google spreadsheets and documents and other collaboration tools are a great way to bring teams together. 

Video of the Week
The internet was made for video and there is a never-ending supply of inspirational, encouraging, and funny videos to share with the team.

See Your Team
Interact with your team using video chat but when that is not available, you can still make them feel recognized and seen with a simple text or phone call. Don’t underestimate the power of a phone call, video chat, or text. 

Music for stress relief while social distancing

Music is therapeutic and entertaining. Encourage employees to stream music while they work if appropriate. Sending videos during the day for a quick company sing-along moment can be fun. For the more adventurous: consider hosting an online  virtual karaoke or talent contest

Make Remote Team Building Fun 

Coffee Break
In Slack, create a coffee break channel for non-work banter and water cooler conversations.

Encourage employees to reach out by video chat or phone call one-on-one with each other. For the shy kind, Slack offers a plug-in called Donut which randomly pairs people for icebreakers and team building questions.

Play Games
Add game plugins to Slack, use Facebook games, or create games to bring the team together for some fun interaction.

Humor and Entertainment
Post a joke of the day to bring some levity into the group. Encourage playfulness and joy because working from home can be exhausting

Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, special holidays, and other milestones!

Time to Stretch
Tell others your fitness goals or suggest creating a fun voluntary ‘time to stretch’ activity throughout the day.

Create a place for teammates to share ideas or actual artwork, crafts, projects they or loved ones are creating. 

Time to stretch Movement in Self Quarantine

TIME TO STRETCH: Movement is vital in self quarantine and only takes moments to recharge.

Fun Ideas To Stay Connected in Self-Quarantine

Here are a few clever ideas floating around the internet how others are connecting during social distancing. If you’re inclined, be the leader and start one of these ideas yourself. You can also suggest a co-worker, employee, or tenant takes the lead. Or simply add these suggestions to your tenant newsletter.

  • Schedule a Netflix watch party
  • Practice a new language with someone fluent
  • Set up a virtual game night
  • Have a video or picture cooking competition
  • Start a book club
  • Host a virtual talent show

Habits to Build Connection in Property Management

Property managers and landlords are superstars – and will now have a social media following much like the trendy social influencer. A quick peek into the habits of an influencer reveals that routines in reaching out and having a consistent message is important to engage with their audience. 

  • Stay consistent throughout the process. If you need to disengage for a day or two, keep your audience updated with that information.
  • Be positive! Reach out with empathy, hope, good news, resources – everyone is feeling the pressures and need a little grace and care.
  • Prioritize connecting with others. May seem simple but it is so easy to let the tasks of the day drive your schedule. Use those tools at your fingertips such as slack reminders, google tasks, or phone alarms to remind you to reach out to one or many. 
  • Don’t forget to add in a little professional networking. Connecting with others in your situation will remind you that you are not in this alone. 

Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Phone Call, Video Chat, or Text

The Social Distancing Landlord

You’ve taken care and attention to connect with your renters, property owners, vendors, contractors, and employees — but have you remembered to connect to yourself, significant other, family, and friends? The same tools, ideas, and suggestions above work for any relationship building. 

Final Thoughts

For the rental industry, connection is great for tenant retention and tenant-landlord relationships, employee morale and productivity, and business development with new clients and networking.

However, the greater impact is on actual lives – bridging the business of property management with the heart of serving your community and circle of influence.