In an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19, social distancing and self-quarantine mandates have been enacted across communities in the United States. With the majority of businesses, universities, and schools closed, many residents are working from home, attending class virtually, or trying to stay busy amidst the crisis.
Property and community association managers are used to engaging with their residents in-person on a regular basis — and social distancing has made this increasingly difficult. Without face-to-face communication, some residents may feel isolated or lonely, which is why it’s important to stay positive and to build a sense of community. Here are 10 easy and unique ways to stay connected to your residents during social distancing:
1.) Work It Out
Exercise not only keeps people healthy, it also improves mood. Encourage your residents to stay active while indoors by sharing free virtual fitness resources. If your community has a fitness center that is closed, consider offering your residents a complimentary monthly membership to one of the popular live streaming fitness sites, such as Peloton App, Corepower Yoga, or Beachbody On Demand. Bonus: Many of these even have free trials.
During these times of social distancing, some communities have gotten especially creative. For instance, in Hamburg, Germany a fitness coach has been giving free workout classes and encouraging people to participate from their balconies:
2.) Host a Virtual Book Club
Another way to connect with your residents is to host a virtual book club. Take a poll to see which books residents would like to read most, select a winner, and then send out Kindle or Audible links for them to download. Every week you can meet with your residents virtually via a video conferencing system, like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or GoToMeeting to discuss the book. In addition, you can also create a Facebook Group for book club members to share their thoughts and ask questions.
3.) Game-ify Your Community
Residents can have fun and engage in some friendly competition with one another through online games. Invite your residents to download the app for a multiplayer game, like Words With Friends or Bunch. Once they have the app, you can send them a link that allows them to participate with your group. You can also offer daily trivia, and ask residents trivia questions via Kahoot or a chat service like Skype.
4.) Motivate with Music
Some communities around the world have even held community concerts from their balconies and courtyards. For example, two to three dozen residents in one building in San Francisco came together from their windows to perform a song together.
5.) Get Creative in the Kitchen
Since everyone is cooking at home, why not create a virtual community cookbook? Simply ask your residents to submit their favorite recipes, and you can create a digital PDF that can be updated and shared weekly. Some other fun ways to engage with residents in the kitchen include hosting a virtual dinner party using a video conferencing system or creating a Facebook group for fellow cooking enthusiasts to share their culinary tips and tricks during quarantine.
If you have elderly or at-risk residents that are unable to go to the grocery or farmer’s market for fresh produce, offer them online grocery and meal kit delivery resources, such as Farm Fresh to You, Sun Basket, and Hello Fresh.
6.) Keep the Kids Occupied
Some of your residents may have kids home from school or daycare, which can make it difficult for them to focus on their day jobs. Help parents out by sending various online learning resources and educational games — like PBS, Cool Math 4 Kids, and Arcademics — to keep their children engaged.
7.) Find Ways to Celebrate
From birthday parties to wedding anniversaries, social distancing regulations have forced many to postpone special occasions. Show your community you care by finding ways to celebrate these moments. First, start by polling your residents to find out any upcoming occasions or events they had planned. Next, create a weekly newsletter that highlights the birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations within your community. If you know a resident on a personal level, you could also consider sending a birthday card or ordering a treat to be delivered from a local bakery.
8.) Embrace the Great Outdoors
Having spent so much time inside, people are now having a newfound appreciation for the outdoors. Whether it be for a quick walk or hike, it’s still possible to maintain social distancing rules while getting some sunshine. Consider providing your residents with a list of local hikes or nature walks in your area that are away from crowds. If your community is in a city, map out a walking route that avoids large intersections and offers views of nature.
9.) Give Back
Sitting at home can leave many residents wishing they could do something to help out. Think about starting a fundraiser for a local organization in your community, like the Red Cross or Salvation Army. Give residents a chance to participate by donating money or their time and skills. One business, Jo-Ann’s Fabrics, is enlisting volunteers across America to make protective masks at home to support healthcare workers. So far volunteers have made 11 million masks!
10.) Get a Fresh Start
With springtime well underway, it’s the perfect opportunity to get a head start on spring cleaning. Try offering residents helpful cleaning and organization tips, so they can use this extra time at home to be productive. You could also host a clothing drive, providing bins in common areas to collect gently used clothing for a homeless shelter in your area.
In times of hardship, community is everything. With digital technology and a little creativity, you can find unique ways to continue to engage with your residents — and do so safely. Be sure to provide plenty of resources and to stay in touch virtually, so they know you’re in this together.