It has been some time since our last newsletter. We hope everyone is well. Like most people in business, COVID-19 has made us explore different ways to deliver our services. We have been successfully working from home since March to comply with social distancing rules. Here we are, some three months later, tentatively starting to spend time in the office.
I have previously used the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention.” It has never been more applicable since the onset of COVID-19. Strata has been reinventing itself, including government services related to strata. I cover a few of the changes in this article. We instigated new ways to conduct business and like everyone, adapted to the ‘new normal’.
Though we are returning to the office shortly, the COVID-19 experience has taught us the flexibility that a combination of working from home and/or the office can be conducted efficiently.
Virtual has become the name of the game. Despite distancing, it is more important than ever to live and work together cooperatively. Some people adapt better than others.
Here is an example how things have changed – phone calls and emails have increased by about 50% in the height of the pandemic and we got used to Zoom meetings but for some, the expectations relating to response or turn around remain to a large degree unchanged. The thing I found with Zoom meetings or whatever platform you are using, is that listening becomes more important. Allowing someone to speak without interruption is the name of the game whilst retaining the democratic right of response.
Let us take a moment to examine the pros and cons of Zoom meetings.
It has been lauded as one of the best communication tools available today and is promoted as a reliable video conferencing software. Zoom provides text, audio, and video. All that is needed is for your computer to be equipped with a microphone, headphones and a web camera to use video conferencing software. Another popular platform is Skype, which is part of the Microsoft family. Skype is also a reliable and affordable video platform. It allows video and voice calls and instant messaging.
Zoom allows for screen sharing which can be of value in Strata Committee meetings.
Video conferencing has become more affordable whereas once upon a time it was a luxury. Video conferencing has become about convenience not price. Video conferencing brings what face to face conferences have namely, facial expressions and physical gestures which are missing from telephone conferencing. In strata, the benefits of video conferencing is that they are inclusive, allowing people who have investment properties but do not live on site, including in different countries, to participate if they want. I believe video conferencing provides a fluid way to meet in today’s environment and it is likely, after COVID is under control, to become the norm. I have learned that Zoom has recently become encrypted which adds to security.
It would be unrealistic to expect everyone to change. Some cannot for various reasons, but it may be provocative for me to say, but my view is their day in the sun is over. Change is the new way. Young people already know the power and emancipation of using the technologies available. I applaud that, more power to their elbow.
For those that know me, I do speak at a rate of knots, but for reasons unknown to me if I have a microphone in front of me, I slow down, I am more considered and less emotive, well that is what I have been told. Could it be that I feel more conscious of the people listening and how we appear to them?
Back to the subject of this article, which is innovation and change, the government offices such the Office of the Registrar General together with the NSW Land Registry Services have approved a temporary lodgement process to meet the needs of COVID-19 and they have devised methods by lodgement of documents that were not previously lodged electronically, to be lodged electronically. Welcome to world of the young – no matter what your age or previous experience has been. The NSW Land Registry Office at Queens Square Sydney continues across the counter transaction for those who do not wish to lodge electronically. Who would have though government entities being flexible and innovative.
On the subject of innovation because of COVID, on 5 June 2020, the NSW government amended the Strata Schemes Management Regulations:-
“A relevant strata meeting” means annual general meetings, general meetings, or strata committee meetings.
Regulation 70 which relates to altered arrangements for convening relevant strata meetings
Regulation 71 altered arrangements for voting at relevant strata meetings
Regulation 72 provides an alternative for affixing the seal of the owners corporation
We will continue to keep our readers abreast of changes both statutory and to the way we conduct business. Keep safe and well in these uncertain times.