Throughout the pandemic, a lot of changes were made to move business operations to the digital world. Video conferencing platforms became ubiquitous, not just for the safety they represented, but for the comfort of seeing the faces of family and friends. It is safe to say that every demographic now knows what a Zoom meeting is, how to join and participate. At a minimum, all demographics know how to call in with a phone, if not join with video on their computer or tablets. But with restrictions being lifted across the country, many are eager to get back to normal.
While a lot of people are expressing ‘Zoom fatigue,’ we have found that – for board meetings, at least – digital meetings are more efficient. It’s easier to share information, take a quick poll of the attendees, there are no in-person side conversations to compete with, and boards can more easily enforce talking time limits, making the meetings shorter overall.
Of all the changes the pandemic brought that we want to get away from, digital board meetings are one of the few changes that should stay, permanently.
Benefits to the board
“Attendance is generally higher than in-person meetings, meaning increased community involvement.”
For board members, virtual meetings bring a lot to the table. Because owners can connect from anywhere, attendance is generally higher than in-person meetings, meaning that it’s much easier to get owner participation and volunteers when needed. If your board needs to reschedule a meeting or change the times, it’s easier to do so via a virtual meeting than having to change reservations at the clubhouse, library, or other meeting venues.
An added benefit to boards is the removal of the inevitable ‘parking lot meeting’ that takes place after the meeting, leading meetings to last even longer than you planned to spend.
Benefits to the Homeowners
“For vacation homeowners and remote workers, digital meetings make a real difference.”
Virtual meetings are better for homeowners too! It’s easier for homeowners to attend, whether they are connecting from work, or home, or if they are traveling. For vacation homeowners and remote workers, digital meetings make a real difference: we’ve seen deployed military and other remote homeowners connecting to board meetings in numbers like never before.
Digital board meetings give homeowners more of a voice in how their association is run. If time is allotted on the agenda for homeowners to comment, that time can be strictly monitored by the board, meaning everyone gets an equal chance to speak.
Benefits in Time and Money
“One community went from regularly spending 3 or more hours at every board meeting, to only an hour and a half!”
During the pandemic, time spent on board meetings for HOA Strategies’ clients decreased overall by a significant margin – shaving at least 30 minutes on average. One community went from regularly spending 3 or more hours at every board meeting, to only an hour and a half!
Shorter meetings are good for the association’s pocketbook too. Like other management companies, HOA Strategies’ standard contract allows a limited amount of time to attend board meetings each month. When the meeting time exceeds the contracted amount, the association is billed for that time. Shorter meetings means the association does not have to bear the burden of that cost.
The Argument for In-Person Meetings
“The focus of a board meeting is to work on the HOA as a business, not a social club.”
Many will argue against virtual meetings because they miss the intangible benefits of in-person board meetings. But remember that the focus of a board meeting is to work on the HOA as a business, not a social club. If you wish to socialize, throw a party or a barbeque where you can really let loose! (and don’t end up paying for your manager to watch you socialize). If you are accustomed to giving awards and praise at board meetings, consider planning an annual community awards gala instead.
Experts say that there is one scenario when in-person meetings trump virtual meetings, and that is when you need to engage the attendees’ creativity. The act of being together in person means that people can speak over each other, volley ideas back and forth, and riff on one another’s thoughts.
So if your board needs to brainstorm, hold a strategic planning session once a year as in-person meeting, Otherwise? Take it online.
Time to Update Your Meeting Policy?
“So if your board needs to brainstorm, hold a strategic planning session once a year, Otherwise? Take it online.”
Condo and HOA boards should consider updating policies to incorporate digital meetings into your standard operating procedures.
At HOA Strategies, we are putting our money where our mouth is. Going forward, our standard policy for new community association clients will be digital meetings. HOA Strategies has Zoom subscriptions and will host the meetings for our clients, so individual associations don’t need to purchase Zoom or other digital meeting platforms. We think it’s better for the clients, and a more efficient use of the association’s time and resources.
If you are looking for other ways to maximize your community’s resources, consider HOA Strategies as your association management partner. We offer multiple levels of involvement to match the needs of your community. Contact us for a free assessment.