A condominium restoration project is challenging at the best of times. Managing the complexity of large-scale capital repairs or upgrades, and accounting for the sheer number of logistical considerations to eventually arrive at a successful outcome, can tax even the most experienced condominium manager.  During the coronavirus pandemic, those already daunting obstacles have become far more difficult to clear—and underscores the important role that a condominium’s security team can play throughout a restoration program.

Damage related to water, fire or mold, or even long-term concrete and other forms of building deterioration, are just some of the many factors that can compel a condo restoration initiative in the first place. Remediating these issues is always expensive. They often arise unexpectedly and create an immediate sense of urgency—noise, dust and dirt, amenity closures and other disruptions including building access limitations can quickly heighten tensions while the project is underway. Careful planning can help mitigate those and many other issues that can compromise residents’ lifestyle experience and enjoyment.

The current complication, of course, is that the constant flow of tradespeople onto and off of a property can create COVID-19 exposure risks that must be minimized in order to protect an entire condominium community. The question is, how? Here are several ways that condominium property managers can utilize their security personnel to make a property restoration as comfortable and efficient as possible for all parties involved:

Take a team approach

The first step is understanding that it takes a team to manage a restoration project during a pandemic. Your general restoration contractor and their various trades and sub-trades will comprise the bulk of that group, but it’s essential to also include your security firm in the process. They’ll be on the frontlines managing, monitoring and ensuring that only authorized individuals can access the property—but also working with residents to address their concerns. In other words, they’re not simply security guards, they’re your frontline community managers. If an unforeseen situation relating to the restoration suddenly emerges—a trade accidently cuts a gas or water line, for example—they’ll likely be the first ones on the scene and to alert first responders and/or the restoration contractor. If a resident complains about noise or has questions about how the job is progressing, they’ll likely be the first ones asked to listen or pass along information on the condominium manager’s behalf.

Remember that this isn’t merely a building, it’s home to scores of people. Providing outstanding customer service is an expectation at any time, but a restoration project is an opportunity to demonstrate that as a condominium manager, you take clients’ happiness to heart. Security staff can be instrumental in driving that message home and reinforcing it through their day-to-day interaction with residents.

Leverage your guards’ diverse skills

Security personnel are the bridge between the parties affected by the restoration (e.g., residents) and those involved in its rollout (e.g., the trades). Your guards should have a full list of all tradespeople involved in the project from start to finish, if only to be able to verify their identity as needed. They should have a full schedule of work slated for various stages of the project. They should also be present when briefings are delivered to the condominium board. While their job is to ensure the safety and security of the property and the people occupying it, it’s also to help foster the right atmosphere and understand how the project is progressing—particularly important in luxury condos where a premium is placed on the resident experience.

As part of that process—and beyond having a general awareness of the project implementation plan—guards will need to conduct regular contact tracing in case an outbreak occurs. Having that information at the ready and being able to deliver it to public health officials and both your management team and the condominium board could mean the difference between containing COVID-19’s spread across a community, or seeing it rage out of control and impacting both resident health and the restoration project’s successful completion.

Give them what they need

It’s essential that security personnel have the necessary tools to do their job as guards and community liaison experts during a condominium restoration. That means providing them with adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure their safety. It’s the best way to keep your security team healthy and on the job. PPE should be kept in a central location and made available to staff at the start of every shift.

It’s also important that they have access to efficient and effective contact tracing software that’s both user-friendly and robust enough to collect and manage the information of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of residents. Having a way to handle the reams of data they’ll be acquiring will help manage or prevent COVID-19 outbreaks if they occur, while managing inflow and outflow of trades people and reducing the risk of potential security breaches.

Think a step ahead

No matter the reason for your restoration project—and even though we’re in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic—take the time to think about your property’s long-term security requirements. If the restoration is particularly extensive, such as in the case of major flood of fire damage, you may find an opportunity to implement new security technology infrastructure (think biometrics or ultra-HD surveillance cameras), or perhaps even designing security-friendly spaces to accept the flood of food deliveries and e-commerce packages currently inundating so many condo lobbies. That volume is only poised to grow in the years ahead as more of us shop and dine online. Work with your security provider to not only manage your community and provide the best resident experience possible throughout the restoration, but to also look ahead and develop a comprehensive strategy that projects your property’s security requirements five to 10 years into the future.

In the end, proactive thinking will save money and position your condominium as an even more desirable place to live.

Winston Stewart

President and CEO, Wincon Security

 

Nearly a year ago, our world changed. Few of us knew much, if anything, about the COVID-19 virus that would soon transform our social interactions, our economy and our lives. But we soon got a crash course in epidemiology and terms such as ‘social distancing’ as the federal and provincial governments acted quickly to lockdown our communities and introduce sweeping health and safety measures. Through it all, Wincon Security guards and supervisors were on the coronavirus pandemic frontlines.

Our employees responded with professionalism, hard work and a dedication to excellence that was beyond exceptional—it was a true embodiment of our focus on providing the very best customer service experience our industry has to offer. To a person, our team exemplified our ‘Built on Service. Driven by Culture’ company mantra. My gratitude goes out to all of our employees for their ongoing support and efforts to continue improving our client experience. But in the midst of a tumultuous year, the work of two of our staff truly stood out.

I’m pleased to introduce our 2020 employees of the year: Supervisor Darrell Chen and security guard Robert Bruce.

You may notice a change from previous years when we acknowledged only one employee. This year we decided that it was important to ensure that a member of our leadership team also got the nod for their outstanding work.

In Darrell’s case, his management of a seven-person security team throughout the pandemic at GE’s Markham facility was nothing short of remarkable. Not that we’d expect anything different. Over his four-year career with Wincon, Darrell’s communication skills, leadership and problem-solving abilities have set the standard for others to follow. COVID may have put Darrell to the test, but he stepped up and responded to every challenge.

Wincon Darrell Chen 1

“Over the past year, we had to find different ways to provide safety and security,” he says. “We had to train additional guards, work with the EHS and occupational safety committees at GE, reinforce masking policies and work to develop methods to efficiently screen employees and delivery people every day. Our team is always great at communication and has a positive attitude, so by being proactive and planning for different workplace situations, we were able to make a tough situation as seamless as possible for our client.”

By keeping up the spirits of his team and showing appreciation for their work, Darrell reminded us all that it’s possible to turn a challenging situation into one for growth and development.

Wincon Robert Bruce 1

Our 2020 Guard of the Year Robert Bruce showed the same willingness to step up and adapt, but in a very different setting over the past year. As a guard at some of Etobicoke’s larger condominium towers, Robert had a front row seat as the move to remote work took centre stage during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown. Suddenly, thousands of residents were working—and both caring for and teaching their children—from home. Access to everything from building amenities to the neighbourhood grocery store were instantly restricted.

Even as tensions ran high, Robert met residents with his trademark smile and pleasant demeanour, and was able to make their day a little bit brighter simply by doing his job well. Efficiency was key.

“At a certain point we had to start screening people for COVID-19 when they entered the building, but due to the volume of residents coming in and out—not to mention parcel or food delivery people and visitors—we needed to process people as quickly as we could,” Robert recalls. “Adjusting to that was a challenge.”

Wincon Robert Bruce 2

That meant going to extraordinary lengths such as conducting temperature checks and even calling residents to pick up food deliveries in the lobby as part of the condo’s coronavirus protocols. Through it all, Robert’s ability to anticipate both the condo property manager and residents’ needs, and to address potential issues before they arose, proved the difference.

On behalf of the entire leadership team here at Wincon, I’d like to congratulate Darrell and Robert for this achievement and thank them for their exemplary work. And while I’ve said it before, it’s worth reiterating that our entire team has gone above and beyond throughout the COVID-19 crisis. If I had to choose a word to sum up my feelings about our performance as a company, it would be: proud.

Proud that we’ve confronted one of the most difficult challenges of our generation and managed to succeed. Proud that we’ve actually improved our service offering in the face of some very big obstacles. And proud that our clients and industry partners were able to rely on us to meet their needs, no matter the circumstances.

As we progress further into 2021, I only have one more thing to add: Let’s keep up the great work together!

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

Wincon Security