Coronavirus: planning for business as usual

We all now understand that the Coronavirus outbreak is going to get worse before it gets better: unfortunately, the ripple effects of the economic and social impact of the virus will be felt by all of us. So businesses and individuals need to be prepared.

As property managers, we are well aware that our clients and residents rely on us to keep their blocks running smoothly. If many of our staff are forced to self-isolate, our service to you will suffer. So we are busy putting contingencies in place to ensure that, as far as possible, we are able to carry on with business as usual.

In an increasingly connected world, many of us are able to work remotely, and Ringley staff are no exception. We have put in place a range of solutions to ensure that if our people have to stay at home, they can carry on working if well enough to do so. Relationship managers’ mobiles have been connected to the office network so that home phones operate as office phones, with all the same connectivity. And staff will have full access to all IT systems for accounts, billing and invoicing as usual.

However, there is only so much that any of us can do to keep calm and carry on. If we do find ourselves facing a full-blown epidemic, residents may have to be patient over issues such as repairs, which may not be carried out as quickly as usual. We are working to ensure that emergencies will still be covered and our 24-hour emergency phone line will continue to work as usual for the time being.

Of course, there are also things leaseholders can do to help themselves and their neighbours. First, make sure you’ve read the latest Public Health England advice and ensure notices are posted around your block reminding residents to wash their hands frequently, particularly when they come in from work, go to the bin store or the car park and so on.

As a nation, we Brits are proud of our ability to keep calm in a crisis and the Blitz spirit is often invoked. So now is the time to make sure you and your neighbours have each other’s mobile numbers, are aware of any residents in your block that may be particularly vulnerable and keep in touch with each other via your residents portal or website if you have one – or, if not, via social media.

If residents are having to stay at home and their neighbours are aware of that, they can pull together and help each other with shopping, collecting prescriptions or even cooking meals that can be left outside each other’s doors. One of the real benefits of the internet is that we can all keep in touch with no need to have any physical contact with each other and that may become very important in the weeks to come. Extreme times call for extreme measures and, who knows, we may find that a health crisis actually helps bring us together and build community in ways we never expected.

If in the next few weeks you do have to stop working for any length of time, and as a result, may have problems paying your service charge or rent, please contact us sooner rather than later. We will do our best to provide the right advice. And finally, read Friday’s Blog for more on protecting residents on-site.