During this time of lockdown, online meetings have become the new norm for many businesses and employees. It wouldn’t come as a surprise to say that video conferencing will soon be the new conference call. As we continue to utilize virtual communication in our everyday lives, we can only imagine the endless possibilities that will soon come our way. Considering the benefits, virtual communication has shown to help cut costs, increase productivity, and most importantly, increase employee retention. In fact, almost “94% of businesses who use video conferencing state that the company benefits from greater productivity.”
So what does this mean for HOAs? Will virtual communication become the new platform for HOAs going forward? Although many HOA meetings were still being held in person at the start of this year, a large shift has occurred — more and more HOAs are now conducting their board meetings and overall HOA organization through virtual platforms. Following this, HOAs will also need to consider the process and organization needed to transition from in-person meetings to virtual successfully.
Before establishing a virtual structure, it will be important to review your current HOA meeting structure. Here is where identifying the types of meetings, along with your current agenda, will come into play. While listing your structure, we recommend taking strong consideration of who, how, and where each meeting is currently held.
Many HOAs have found virtual platforms to be beneficial because they provide many free features that any HOA can utilize. They have also been known to help communities engage and increase direct communication.
When deciding which platform to use, we suggest running a free trial to understand better the benefits and requirements needed to run each platform. Listed below are 6 popular virtual platforms to consider:
As you continue to build your virtual structure, we recommend considering some best practices before establishing a virtual plan.
The first step to establishing a virtual plan will be to determine which meetings should be held virtually. Before evaluating, we recommend referencing your HOA governing documents for any laws that may prohibit a committee from conducting a meeting online. In most cases, as long as a committee is given proper notice and accessibility, an HOA should be able to conduct an online meeting. On the contrary, if an in-person meeting is required, the HOA must follow all social distance laws to maintain their community's safety.
Once each committee is assigned its virtual platform, here is where your HOA will need to create a method for running each board and committee meeting online.
Whoever runs the meeting, the same in-person HOA meeting protocol will apply to an HOA virtual meeting. Each member should be given proper notice, along with instructions on materials needed to conduct the meeting. A few examples include access to login information, a copy of the meeting's agenda, and a Q&A point of contact.
Before conducting the meeting, we suggest running a test meeting to avoid any technical issues. A few examples of test functions include:
In this step, we highly suggest closing all outside tabs and any personal information that could appear on your shared screen — this includes having an appropriate background. Many virtual platforms, such as Zoom, offer free background features where the background can be completely removed so that all that appears is your appearance or the agenda of the meeting.
Being over-prepared is never an issue when it comes to preparing for your virtual meeting. We recommend being ready to open your meeting as early as 15-20 minutes before that actual start time. This will allow members time to login, say hello, troubleshoot, or take care of any important business matters before the meeting starts.
Additional tip: consider incorporating an in-meeting chat option that allows users to ask questions or chat messages to other users within a meeting. This will help reduce lengthy conversations and interruptions. For example, Zoom offers an in-meeting chat option that provides a number of control options for users to select from.
At the start of your meeting, reshare your meeting agenda on a shared screen. This will provide a quick reminder to all members of the meeting's agenda and protocol.