Computer Illiterate? Seek Help! | National Apartment Association

Computer Illiterate? Seek Help!

Let’s face it, the Internet is not a fad—the role both the Internet and computers play in our business is vast and ever growing. Let’s take a look at what parts of our business are computer and/or Internet based:   

  • Communication (with Colleagues & Prospects) - E-mail, usually Outlook is used in our business
  • Learning Management Systems - Does your company offer online learning?
  • Property Management Software - On our computers and generally on the Internet
  • Social Media
  •  Rent Payment s- A good portion of multifamily companies allow residents to pay online
  • Advertising/Marketing - Our biggest source of traffic
  • Weekly/Monthly Reports - Excel and Word play a big role in how we relay information
  • Performance Appraisals - Many are integrated into our HRIS systems, which are Internet based
  • Payroll Time Tracking and Payroll - Does anyone use a manual system for travking hours anymore? When it comes to payment, the majority of us rely on Direct Deposit, which uses a computer to transmit.
  • Accounting - Most accounting departments use our property management software in conjunction with computer and/or Internet based financial software

The writing on the wall is pretty clear; to be successful in our business you must have some sort of computer knowledge. I’m not saying you need to learn advanced HTML … I’m talking the very basics of computer literacy.

Frankly, I’m blown away, at the lack of computer knowledge so many in our industry seem to be plagued with. One recent example comes to mind:

A woman was replying to an E-mail announcement to enroll in one of our course offerings … but she sent four E-mails. After the fourth, I called her to let her know I had received her E-mails and she was enrolled. She seemed confused, and told me that nothing had happened.

When I asked what she meant, she told me that when she clicked the link to reply back and enroll, nothing happened. It took me a few seconds to process what she said and understand what it meant, when it hit me, and we had the following dialogue:

Me: “When you clicked the link, it opened up outlook E-mail message, right?”
Woman: “Yes.”

Me: “You typed a message that you wanted to enroll and then clicked send, right?”

Woman: “Yes, but nothing happened.”

Me: What did you expect to happen?”

Woman: “I don’t know like a confirmation or something, I’ve never done one of these before.”

Me: “You’ve never sent an E-mail using Outlook before?” (I knew she had because we had previously communicated through E-mail).

Woman: “Well yes, I’ve sent an E-mail before, but that’s not what this was.”

I was taken aback - could someone be this computer illiterate? Again I paused, remaining the consummate professional, and said “Yes, that is what this was. (I double checked to make sure the hyperlink wasn’t wrong). That’s why what popped up when you clicked the link, looked just like an Outlook E-mail message - It was one!”

She was silent for a few seconds, realized what I was saying, probably tried it again for herself and then said “Oops. I’m just not too good with computers!”

The moral of my story is this - if you want to succeed in multifamily housing (or any other industry, for that matter), take your career into your own hands and learn how to be at the very least a computer user, and maybe even computer savvy.

Microsoft offers tutorials on all of their products (which most of us use) and best of all… they’re free! Aren't you worth it?