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10 Ways to Engage Residents During COVID-19

A family watching TV from their couch.

By Stephanie Anderson

The recent outbreak of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, has caused immediate need for social distancing to stop the spread of this highly contagious virus. Apartment communities are a people-driven business, which makes it more difficult to cut off face-to-face communication abruptly.

The use of technology is our greatest tool in this situation. Due to recent information surrounding COVID-19, apartment offices, amenity spaces and resident events are being shut down as a result. Now more than ever, apartment owners and operators have a real opportunity to make a difference in how we respond to these challenges by moving resident events and communication online to further engage residents in a different manner. Allowing residents to see continued effort is key to satisfaction. Apartment professionals can provide value while also helping people to feel connected and combat loneliness and depression in the weeks and months to come. 

Host an online book club

Let residents vote on a book to read online or listen to on a platform like Audible. Then create a Facebook group to discuss the book virtually once a month. You can host separate clubs for different age groups or book choices. 

Take advantage of technology

Utilize the power of technology with daily or weekly check-ins. Use social platforms, such as Instagram or Facebook Live, for example. People love to feel important and a part of their community. Check in on how everyone is doing and keep them updated on current events and neighborhood information.

Gift subscriptions

Consider gifting subscriptions to Disney+ or Netflix. This will assist with the boredom your residents may enter while being confined to their apartment homes. Take it a step further with recommendations about great movies and shows to watch and even start a discussion online for neighbors to comment their favorites.

Organize digital game nights

Encourage healthy competition at an online game center; nothing beats a competitive game of neighborhood scrabble! There are thousands of games your residents could play together online. You can play chess, find all sorts of virtual reality games or find card and other puzzle games. Get creative and make your own crossword puzzle using words from your community. 

Encourage exercise beyond the fitness center

If your fitness center is closed, encourage your residents to continue putting their health at the forefront of their confinement by recommending online fitness apps, such as Peloton and Beachbody, to name a couple. Consider paying for the first month of their subscription in substitute of that month’s resident event.

Plan a virtual scavenger hunt

Create a photo scavenger hunt online. List missions in different categories to allow residents to post pictures of objects they find inside their apartment homes. Residents can also solve riddles and complete fun photo challenges to share with neighbors. 

Design a community cookbook

Design your own community potluck cookbook. This is an awesome twist on a classic resident event. Have residents submit recipes for their favorite dinner. Then, compile the recipes into a community cookbook and share all recipes on Dropbox or Google Drive.

Stay in touch with trivia

Send out daily trivia to residents. Random trivia can productively kill time by teaching residents new facts. You can make this into a competition among neighbors by publishing a weekly leader scoreboard. Take this a step further by giving out prizes such as e-gift cards for winners.

Build a community playlist

Make a music playlist on a platform, such as Spotify, to share with residents. Energetic music will help motivate residents to exercise, clean, and even dance around their house. You can even ask residents to make suggestions for music to add to the list to increase community participation. 

Share resources for parents

Share online learning websites designed for children from preschool to middle school that encourage positive distant learning while schools are closed. Age of Learning and Scholastic Magazine are just two examples of online programs providing free home access. Even when schools are closed, you can keep the learning going with these special cross-curricular journeys and parents will appreciate the help while they navigate the balance of work and childcare.