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Technology, Communities, and Retention

Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012

It gets worse before it gets better.  Typically I apply this statement to activities such as cleaning my room and exercising.  There is a certain amount of agony that comes from trying to better yourself or your surroundings before you actually see any results.  This statement also applies to intellect and improving your performance at work.  Whether it entails sitting in class for hours on end, writing a 25 page paper, or learning new systems and technologies at work, it is always going to require some extra effort before you see the payoff.

One of the most relevant topics today is learning new technology at work.  In the multifamily industry there is a big push to catch up with the rest of the workforce in terms of implementing new technologies.  Despite Apple having already introduced the iPad 2, some properties are just starting to receive iPads to use in their daily activities – and most properties don’t even have plans to use them.  It is also common to see onsite staff members resist new systems that are provided to streamline their job tasks, opting for a pen and binders of paper instead.

So why is this happening?  At a time when apartment communities are seeing decreased vacancy rates and increased rent, wouldn’t workers in the multifamily industry want to make their jobs easier and enhance customer service?  This brings me back to my original statement: it gets worse before it gets better.

Bringing in new technology can be messy.  There are high costs associated with it (let’s be honest – new technology is a big monetary investment), and there is also an investment of time.  Onsite staff members will have to reevaluate job roles, consider how to best incorporate new systems, and spend time being trained to use any new technology to its fullest.  To do this, there needs to be a change in the way people think in the multifamily industry, from corporate executives down to the onsite staff.  If you don’t have everyone onboard, willing to learn and invest (both time and money) the potential benefits will never be discovered.

Instead of focusing on the part where it gets worse, we need an attitude of I can see the light at the end of the tunnel – when it gets better.  In areas where the renter demographic tends to be technologically inclined (a shout out to the Amazon and Microsoft employees in Seattle), it is impossible for apartment communities to ignore the need for new technologies that run smoothly and onsite staff members know how to use.  And guess what – not only have they seen the light at the end of the tunnel, but they’re basking in it.