CRE: Managing Communication During Covid-19

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March 17, 2020

It’s no secret that Covid-19 is dominating the news. But as major news outlets reach the masses, it is just as important that multifamily, office and retail property owners provide their tenants and residents with pertinent information as well.

Now more than ever, it's critical to have an effective manner of disseminating information without fear mongering, especially as many Americans are now find themselves working remotely and relying on fast-paced digital communication.

This article will introduce several strategies that building owners and operators can use to communicate with tenants and be proactive on their Covid-19 response using digital tools.

1. Use Your Website Effectively

In our current pandemic, news changes constantly and both federal and state recommendations are updated almost daily. Your residents and tenants are looking for your response to these changes, so they can plan accordingly and follow your lead.

Switch to a landing page

One of the fastest ways of getting out your message and controlling the conversation is using your website. We’re seeing many projects opt to replace their typical home page with a simple landing page that communicates the most critical information in the most direct way possible.

Define who's in charge

After you’ve decided the logistics of this communication, define who’s in charge of posting these announcements, and make them responsible for relaying this information as it evolves. When your messages are delivered quickly and thoroughly, multifamily residents and office tenants will be more at ease having directions or reassurances at their fingertips.

Explain your response clearly, and often

It goes without saying the substance of these messages is of the utmost importance. Focus on clearly explaining your Covid-19 response, and how those directly affected in your property can continue to engage and support one another during these times.

Is your multifamily property ramping up its cleaning efforts? Let your tenants know before they start to worry. Or, if you are an office building shutting down amenities, it’s best to get the word out before users have to discover it for themselves.

Make sure your response is current and up to date. If circumstances change in your community, be sure to clarify how you are responding, setting new expectations for your tenants and workers.

2. Use Technology to Deploy Your Message

Beyond your website, there are a whole host of other technologies and digital tools—that can be deployed instantly— and help you communicate effectively. Here are three recommendations.

Activate Social Media Accounts

Beyond your website, social media is an obvious place to post updates and stay in touch with your community. Communicate your Covid-19 action-plan and respond to public concerns and questions. Frequently tweeting or posting on Facebook with links back to your announcements is a straightforward method of speaking to your tenants and the public alike. If appropriate, you can get creative with Instagram posts or Loom videos as well. (More on Loom below)

Rethink Email Campaigns

Consistent, clear emails that update them on building amenities, cleaning schedules or best practices on staying safe during a lockdown can go a long way. Send tenants specific details on an ongoing basis with the same email campaign tools you likely use for marketing purposes.

As both federal and local governments change advisements and regulations, those who occupy your building will appreciate being updated on how those might impact them. The emails you send are also a great place to link to your announcement page, and remind multifamily residents or office tenants of your social media page.

Consider Tenant Experience Portals

Portals that require a login for multifamily residents or office tenants are a great way to facilitate conversations with tenants and answer their specific questions and concerns. This is also one of the most convenient ways they can submit emergency maintenance or alert necessary parties when sanitary wipes or cleaning supplies run low.

Don’t have a portal or a secure location on your website? Apps like Comfy, HqO and Equiem are all providing these services to enhance tenant experience and streamline communication with their building’s owner.

When everyone knows where to find the most up-to-date materials, it makes it much easier to stay informed. In the case of Covid-19, management teams can find the latest building information and remain aware of what steps they can take to prevent more people from getting sick.

Propmodo's recent article Commercial Real Estate in the Age of the COVID-19 Virus dives into this thinking further—pulling insight from John Macomber of the Harvard Business School—with a focus on air quality, among other topics, in our city’s buildings.

3. Use Video To Communicate Thoroughly

Almost overnight, the pace and means of the way we’re communicating has changed. People are working at light-speed trying to find the most up to date information on the coronavirus, while also providing clear and often nuanced information on how they are responding.

In this rapidly changing remote work environment, video communication can help you stay in control and relay complex information quickly. Here are four tools that can help you stay organized and keep your management and leadership teams informed during remote-based working:


Zoom is a video conferencing tool allowing you to quickly connect and chat with members of your team, and instantly have face to face conversations.

Here at Authentic, we use Zoom everyday to stay in touch with our remote team. In the same amount of time that it takes to dial someone’s phone number, you can start a video chat and converse as if you were sitting in the same room.

For relaying complex information, video calls are much more effective than long wordy emails. Video allows you to better read the context and tone of what’s being said, and connect with the person on a more human level. Simple facial expressions or hand gestures that video captures, helps people better understand what’s being said and asked of them.


Google Hangouts is another video conferencing tool, equipped to handle communication with a large audience.

Host public office hours on Google hangouts to keep lines of communication open with residents, tenants, and staff members alike.

Host a webinar session for your multifamily residents or office building tenants to inform them of any updates on the general situation and how it may impact their work or home life.

Use Loom to save time and provide detail

Video communication doesn't always need to be real time.

With Loom, you can record short shareable videos helpful in providing more context in emails, chats, or other information that's too time consuming to type.

Loom also has built-in screen recording capabilities, allowing you to record the work you’re doing on your computer, and showing it to someone else.

Instead of writing someone a complex multi-page email, send them over the high level bullet points, and record a quick video talking through the rest of the details. This can save you tons of time, and can be much more effective.

Video communication doesn’t need to be overly fancy. Consistent, clear communication using these tools will allow you to demonstrate a pattern of both proactiveness and compassion for the wellbeing of your property.

Wrapping Up

Transparent messaging, clear information and reliable communication are all critical during situations of uncertainty. Take advantage of digital tools to provide the best possible experiences and safest practices for your multifamily residents or office tenants.

Lastly, we’re in the process of launching a new mini-series as a part of our Transforming Cities Podcast, focusing on the rapidly changing landscape of real estate. We’ll be talking with industry experts to get their views on the impact Covid-19 is making and what you can do to prepare.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to Transforming Cities here. We’re planning on launching the first episode later this week.

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