About CMCA ~ The Essential Credential

CAMICB is a more than 25-year-old independent board that sets the standards for community association managers worldwide. CAMICB is the first and only organization created solely to certify community association managers and enhance the professional practice of community association management.

Allies, sponsors key to creating diverse, equitable workforce

By Angela Childers for Business Insurance

Creating a culture that values allyship, mentorship and sponsorship of diverse individuals is a good place to start toward fostering a more inclusive and equitable workplace, said experts on Wednesday in an online panel discussion hosted by Business Insurance’s Diversity + Inclusion Institute.

“Employees are demanding more equity, more inclusion, more diversity,” said Dana Lodge, chief financial officer of Everest Insurance Co. “It’s just across the board, there is this pent-up demand for change that is pushing companies to do the right thing. There is a lot of societal pressure providing the economic incentive to companies to do the right thing.”

Early in her career, Ms. Lodge didn’t see herself progressing to the level she is at today, largely because she didn’t see other Black women like herself represented in top roles.

“I’m pretty sure my aspiration at that time was to be an accountant who does taxes for small businesses,” Ms. Lodge said. “I had great mentors and sponsors that helped me see that vision. I definitely think that representation is very important and in the absence of it, the allyship, mentorship and sponsorship is needed … to help people understand what their potential is.”

Roosevelt Giles, chairman of BI’s Diversity + Inclusion Institute and chairman of the board of Atlanta Life Financial Group, the country’s only Black-owned insurance company, noted that all people in leadership levels at insurance companies, including white male leaders, had allies, mentors and sponsors in their careers.

“The trilogy happens … and using the trilogy piece might be the first step, getting people to understand and have a conversation with another person,” he said.

Preeti Asthana, director and head of global programs, innovation and partnerships at Aon PLC, said she was “acutely aware of being the only woman” in the boardroom in many situations and was fortunate enough to have mentors and sponsors aiding her throughout her career journey, which led her to give back as a mentor for others.

“One of my early mentors told me, don’t be apologetic for being a woman,” she said. “That’s exactly what I mirror throughout. If you really want to show what you are and want to make the most out of mentorship, you need to be open to ideas and you also need to make sure you are vulnerable” and open to understanding where your gaps are and how to fill those gaps, she said.

One of the biggest challenges, Ms. Lodge said, is focusing on middle management and helping them look at diverse candidates, ensuring unconscious bias is not part of their performance reviews and making sure support and commitment of diversity, inclusion and equity comes from the top.

“How do we help to support (middle management) during that learning process is something we’ve identified as a need,” she said. “We don’t have all of the answers, but I think the first step is identifying a need.”

Companies need to “look at all constituencies and promote and mentor and sponsor all constituencies,” Mr. Giles said. “But if there’s no leadership from the top, then the middle management is going to look up and say, ‘I don’t need to do this because I don’t see it above me.’”

Another key is holding companies accountable for their actions — not just their statements.

“Asking more of those uncomfortable questions” and supporting companies that are hiring women to leadership roles and appointing them to boards is important,” said Christina Terplan, partner at Atheria Law P.C. “We want to support other companies that are showing movement” rather than “just having a splashy statement on a website and sponsoring an event during Women’s History Month.”

The panel was moderated by Ngozi Nnaji, founder and managing partner of AKO Insurance Consulting.

A recording of the full webinar is available here.

CAMICB’s CMCA Exam Preparation E-Learning Course Helps Candidates Get A Head Start

Free Online Resource Helps Candidates Successfully Prepare For The CMCA Exam

By Madeline Hay, CAMICB’s Manager of Exam Administration

Underscoring a quarter century of commitment to professionalism and excellence in community association management, CAMICB is excited to continue to celebrate the organization’s 25th Anniversary with the launch of a free, interactive online CMCA Exam Preparation e-Learning course. 

The three-hour course, featuring a series of eight modules, is divided into two components. The first component features four learning modules focused on creating an examination review and preparation plan. The second component includes three scenario-based learning modules that are designed to put several of the knowledge areas tested on the CMCA examination in context using real-life scenarios. The three modules address knowledge areas that are challenging for many CMCA candidates: Risk Management & Insurance; Financial Controls; and Governance, Legal & Ethical Conduct.  A final module is intended to offer some perspective on the exam preparation process and next steps.

Said Chair of the CAMICB Board of Commissioners Drew Mulhare, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM, “CAMICB is always working to identify new tools to help CMCA candidates succeed on the exam. We’re excited to launch the CMCA Exam Prep e-Learning course – a free resource intended to put candidates on the path to the CMCA credential.”

The Course Modules

The exam preparation modules offer constructive test taking tips, discuss the composition of examination questions, give preparation advice, and provide an interactive self-assessment tool to help a candidate develop a study plan specific to that candidate’s needs and goals. The content-based modules ask the candidate to solve problems and answer questions using downloadable sample documents. 

Each module takes approximately 10-25 minutes to complete. The course is designed to accommodate busy schedules and to allow candidates to work at their own pace, so they may stop and resume the modules as their schedule permits. Below is a brief description of the different modules and what candidates can expect.

Module 1: An Introduction

Learn what it takes to pass the CMCA exam. Get advice from working CMCAs about what worked for them as they were preparing for the test – and what didn’t. Find out some common misconceptions about the CMCA exam and uncover the key for understanding how to approach the exam questions.

Module 2: Devising a Study Plan, Part 1 – Prioritizing Topics 

Discover how to establish and follow a solid study routine that’s tailored to your experience level. Get an in-depth look at the topic areas covered on the test and participate in a self-assessment exercise to determine which topics should be prioritized in your study plan. 

Module 3: Devising a Study Plan, Part 2 – Strategies and Tips 

Find out how to put your study plan into action. Learn practical tips and tricks to make the most of your prep time and take a closer look at some of the study resources available to you. 

A recent course participant shared, “The study resources provided in the CMCA exam prep course are excellent. It gave me a much better understanding of what material to really focus on.”

Module 4: Test-Taking Strategies

Learn how to maximize your potential on exam day. Find out how taking practice tests can improve your performance on the exam, get some guidance on strategies to overcome test anxiety, and see what to expect when you go to the testing center. 

Modules 5 and 6 use real-life scenarios that help you learn from detailed feedback. They also make use of downloadable sample files including Lakeside Terrace’s insurance declaration and financial documents to inform your decisions. 

Said one course participant, “For me, the CMCA exam prep course was so much more effective than simply reading different texts.”

Module 5: Risk Management & Insurance – Refresher Content 

Apply your knowledge of risk management and insurance topics by putting yourself in the shoes of the community association manager for Lakeside Terrace Condominiums. 

Module 6: Financial Controls – Refresher Content 

Revisit your role as Lakeside Terrace’s community association manager as you encounter some scenarios that test key knowledge about financial controls.

Module 7: Governance, Legal & Ethical Conduct – Refresher Content

Another real-life scenario allows you to visit Willow Grove Estates, where you have been hired as the association’s first community manager. 

Module 8: Looking Back and Looking Forward

An opportunity to recall what you’ve learned and consider what you want to keep working on. 

At CAMICB, we’re committed to offering a combination of study tools to enhance candidate performance.  Therefore, we encourage exam candidates to develop a personal study plan incorporating a wide range of resources and reference materials. CMCA preparatory materials are all available online – most at no cost – to managers employed anywhere in the world. We’re thrilled to add our newest offering, the CMCA Exam Prep E-Learning Course, to our portfolio of resources. 

Earning and maintaining this internationally-recognized credential propels a manager’s career forward, allowing for more advanced career opportunities and salaries that, on average, are 20 percent higher than non-credentialed managers. To get started and to learn more about the CMCA Exam Prep E-Learning course, visit www.camicb.org.

Keep Brainstorming—Your Best Ideas Are Still to Come

The common (and mistaken) belief that we generate our best ideas early can actually squash creativity.

Imagine a team brainstorming session. At what point in the meeting do you think you’ll come up with your best, most inventive idea?

Most people assume that lightbulb moment will arrive right away, when you’re feeling freshest. But according to new research, we’ve got it wrong.

Across several studies, Loran Nordgren, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School, and Kellogg PhD alumnus Brian Lucas, now of Cornell University, discovered a widespread, persistent, and mistaken belief that creativity drops off with time. They dub this the “creative-cliff illusion.”

What’s more, they found, the illusion is self-defeating. The more people believe in it, the fewer creative ideas they generate. But with experience comes wisdom, Nordgren and Lucas learned: people who do lots of creative work do not fall victim as often to the myth of declining creativity.

“People think their best ideas are coming fast and early,” Nordgren says. In fact, “you’re either not seeing any drop-off in quality, or your ideas get better.” By giving up too soon, we risk leaving our best ideas on the table.

Nordgren believes bringing attention to the problem can help people unlock new ways of thinking. “People don’t maximize their creative potential, and part of that is because of these beliefs,” he says.

Creativity Increases as You Brainstorm

Nordgren and Lucas began by recruiting a group of 165 online participants, all of whom had previously worked at charitable organizations, to complete a five-minute brainstorming task. Before they got started, participants were asked to predict their creativity during each minute of the task.

Next, participants set to work generating ideas for how a charity could increase donations. As motivation to keep the juices flowing, the researchers told participants they would be entered in a lottery to win $50 for each idea they came up with.

Then, Nordgren and Lucas recruited a new group of online participants to rate the creativity of the ideas the first set of participants had generated.

Participants in the brainstorming task gave faulty predictions about their own creativity, the researchers’ analysis revealed. While people thought they would become less creative as the session went on, the opposite was true: their creativity—as rated by the second group of participants—actually increased.

Confusing Productivity with Creativity

Why do people so uniformly believe their creativity will decline the longer they tussle with a problem?

Nordgren and Lucas suspected people confuse creativity with the ease of generating ideas. For many of us, early ideas come quickly, while later ideas prove more elusive as the brainstorm slows to a brain drizzle. This experience of difficulty could easily be misinterpreted as a decrease in the quality of ideas.

To test the hypothesis, the researchers repeated the same study as before, recruiting 191 new participants. This time, however, participants predicted their creativity after they had already finished generating ideas.

It didn’t matter. Even after the brainstorming task was complete, participants incorrectly judged their later ideas as less creative—because, the researchers reasoned, those ideas were harder to access. Yet, as in the first study, the opposite was true: ideas that took longer to excavate were more likely to be truly innovative.

No Laughing Matter: False Beliefs about Creativity Make Us Less Creative

In another study, Nordgren and Lucas put the creative-cliff illusion to the test in a real-world setting. They recruited students and alumni of Second City’s training program to participate in a New Yorker–style cartoon-caption contest with the promise of a $150 first prize. The online competition was judged by three professional comedians, who rated the 91 submissions for novelty and funniness (a proxy for creativity).

Contest entrants were given 15 minutes to generate as many caption ideas as they could, but they weren’t required to use the full time. Participants also answered a series of questions about their beliefs about creativity, such as “People tend to generate their best ideas first.”

Those who believed good ideas come early submitted fewer jokes overall, the researchers found—and fewer of the jokes they submitted were rated as highly creative by the judges. In other words, the more people believed their funniness would fade over the 15-minute task, the less productive and funny they actually were.

Experience Can Counter the Creative-Cliff Illusion

Would experience cut through the creative-cliff illusion? The researchers suspected it might—perhaps people with many years of creative work under their belts might be less susceptible to the myth.

The researchers recruited a group of 163 online participants and asked them to rate how often they had to use creative skills in their work (not at all, occasionally, or frequently). The participants completed the same brainstorming task used in the first study—predicting their creativity during each minute of the five-minute task, then coming up with ideas to increase charitable donations.

Participants who never or only occasionally did creative work were much like the participants in the first study: they predicted their creativity would decline over the course of the brainstorming task, when in reality the opposite was true.

But participants with lots of creative experience didn’t make the same mistake. They predicted that creativity would remain relatively constant—a belief that is still overly pessimistic, but closer to correct than most other participants’ predictions. Experience helped them see the power of continuing to chip away at the problem.

“It’s really people who are in the trenches doing creative work that learn this lesson,” Nordgren says.

The Power of Persistence

What does this mean for your next brainstorming meeting? For Nordgren, there’s one very simple takeaway.

“If you’re struggling, keep going,” he says. This and his earlier research on creativity reveal that “our intuitions about how this process works are wrong, and that our best ideas are there. They just require more digging.”

This may mean resisting the temptation to select an idea just because a meeting is ending—a temptation rooted in the false belief that future ideas will be worse. Instead, “maybe you say, ‘I think there are still some better ideas we haven’t explored. Let’s all commit individually to putting another hour into this and come back next week.’”

It’s not easy to do—something Nordgren, who is currently at work on a book, knows firsthand. But he’s committed to taking his own advice. “These ideas are influential in those moments,” he says. “I’ll think, ‘this is a pretty good example, but is there a better one?’ It’s a nudge to keep going beyond what my intuition tells me to.”

How New York Co-ops Finally Flexed Their Political Muscle

Bill Morris in COVID-19 For Habitat Magazine

On April 2, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) ruled that housing cooperatives were ineligible for a slice of the $659 billion of forgivable loans provided by the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

It was the shot heard round the co-op world, and in New York City it mobilized a small army of advocates who set out to reverse a bureaucratic decision they viewed as unfair and potentially ruinous to housing co-ops. The point man in bringing the army together was Geoffrey Mazel, a partner at the law firm Hankin & Mazel and legal advisor to the Presidents Co-op & Condo Council (PCCC). This group, which represents more than 100,000 units of housing, now faced its biggest battle: wrestling a New York City issue onto the national stage.

Mazel understood the magnitude of the challenge as well as its source: housing cooperatives are not common outside metropolitan New York City, and few national politicians are familiar with their peculiarities or their needs. As Mazel puts it, “Nobody outside the metro New York cares about housing cooperatives.”

Shortly after the SBA’s April 2 decree, Mazel started recruiting. Among the first to enlist was the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC). “Our first salvo was to contact our elected officials – on the City Council, the Legislature and the New York congressional delegation – and make them aware of the issue,” Mazel says. “The next step was to engage co-op and condo boards to write letters to their legislators. The response was immediate and encouraging. The legislators had been made aware of the issue, and they were engaged.”

By now the army had the ear of U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, then minority leader, who delivered a message to the troops: “When we spoke to our New York co-ops, to Geoffrey Mazel and Mary Ann Rothman (executive director of the CNYC), we said, ‘Reach out to other co-ops. There are general cooperative associations that include housing co-ops.’”

Mazel and his fellow troopers got in touch with the National Cooperative Business Association and the National Association of Housing Cooperatives (NAHC), among other organizations. “We did a full-court press,” says Judy Sullivan, the government relations representative at NAHC, which represents more than 1 million units of cooperative housing nationwide. “We sent out e-blasts to our members to contact Sen. Schumer’s office. We sent out e-blasts to co-ops wherever we could find them.”

Down in the trenches with them was Rep. Grace Meng of Queens, who had been alerted to the problem back in the spring by the Presidents Council. “We worked with Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Tom Suozzi and Sen. Schumer to help the (Trump) administration understand that co-ops are small businesses, and therefore they should be eligible for PPP loans,” Meng says. “Many people don’t understand how co-ops function. Plus, back then, New York City co-ops had the added burden of being in the epicenter of the epicenter of the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Schumer was doing some old-school political arm twisting. “I had to fight and fight and fight,” he says. “I had to persuade so many different senators and congressmen to go along…but I didn’t get much support from people because they didn’t understand. I do understand because in the state Assembly and in Congress, I represented neighborhoods that have lots of co-ops. I’m a cooperator myself, have been since 1982.”

In December, the months of work finally paid off. A new $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill passed in the Senate – with a specific provision making housing cooperatives eligible for the $284 billion set aside for PPP loans. (Condominiums and homeowners associations were not included.) President Trump signed the bill into law two days after Christmas. The co-op army had won the war. 

“It’s a major sea change,” Schumer told Habitat the day after he became majority leader of the Senate. “It’s the first time that housing co-ops were recognized for their importance and vitality. I was able to get legislators who didn’t know about housing co-ops to come on board to help me. And I think it’ll be a change that will work in the future.”

The man who marshaled the troops shares was elated. “It’s extraordinary that such a niche type of housing got included in this legislation,” Mazel said a few days after the bill was signed into law. “This is the result of a concerted effort by advocates and elected officials at the city, state and federal levels. It’s a model of how good government is supposed to work.”

Asked to sum up what he and the army had accomplished, Mazel put it succinctly: “We moved the needle.”

Corporate email: Too much of too much

An abundance of email was stressing people out before the pandemic; now the overload is even worse. Here’s how to strike a healthier balance.

By Sally Ann O’Dowd for Ragan

Corporate communicators sent 72% more emails in 2020 than they did in 2019, according to a new study by PoliteMail.

While the company says email was a “corporate success story” last year, the significant jump in email content may actually have had a detrimental effect on employees, says Kristin Graham, a former Amazon communications executive now working as a culture and employee engagement consultant at Ragan Consulting Group.

“We have been getting too much email for years, because we have to read them,” Graham says. “It’s like having to endure PowerPoints in meetings. Emails have become a part of our corporate experience, not necessarily our preference in the corporate experience. And that was the dynamic before the world went uber digital.”

Inbox recovery

Several studies over the years have documented the ill effects of email overload. According to McKinsey research, the average employee spends 28% of the work week reading and answering email, compared with 39% of working hours on actual job-related tasks.

Reading emails is also a distraction. In fact, it can take 64 seconds for someone to “recover” from an email interruption (regardless of the email’s importance) and return to work at the same pace, according to an often-cited 2004 study by the U.K.’s Loughborough University. That helps to explain the findings of a 2012 UC Irvine and the U.S. Army study, which concluded that limiting email access reduces stress and helps people to focus better.

PoliteMail’s 2021 Internal Communications Benchmarks Data Report advances the global discussion with data based on 300 enterprise clients. Researchers analyzed 1.3 billion internal emails employees sent to 8.5 million employees around the world.

“This report provides visual evidence that email had more relevancy than ever during 2020, as a crisis disrupted the way people work,” PoliteMail Founder and Managing Director Michael DesRochers says in a press release.

The report’s findings include several year-to-year comparisons:

  • Corporate communicators sent 72% more email broadcasts than in 2019, averaging 68 emails a month last year. They also increased the number of content minutes by 58%.
  • Employees received on average 16 email broadcasts per month, which collectively contained nearly 35 minutes of content and 121 links to additional content.
  • Employees read 44% more minutes of email in 2020 and clicked 82% more links.
  • Overall employee engagement with the medium increased 71%.

“This study shows that corporate communicators have had good intentions – that in this last year, communicators were making a concerted effort to connect during these digital times,” Graham says. “That’s the good news.”

On the flip side, she says, “The impact of those intentions has been to put more heavy rocks on our employees to carry around all day long. We’re not solving a problem. We’re creating a problem.”

Do open rates matter?

The 475 words in the average corporate email take nearly two minutes to read. Of the employee audience, 60% will read 77% of it. Of recipients who open and don’t ignore the message, 20% will skim the content, reading less than 30%.

PoliteMail asks the burning question: Do open rates matter?

“An email open simply tells you the message was viewed by the recipient, including the preview pane,” PoliteMail writes. “Like a web page view, it is a simple measure of audience reach. What if the email is opened, but not more than a few words are read?”

For her part, Graham says it’s important to remember the employee perspective. “What’s important to us as communicators is not always important to them,” she says. “With our polite intentions, we’re eroding our productivity.”

How Interruptions Can Make Meetings More Inclusive

By Gia Storms, Harvard Business Review

I’m sitting in the back of the meeting, watching the minutes tick by, unsure how to interrupt the continuous flow of voices competing for airtime that make it harder and harder to get a word in edgewise.

I’m an extrovert/introvert mix by nature, but when the stakes are high and opinionated personalities crowd into a room, my default pattern is to shrink away from competing to get my opinion heard. I’ll often leave a meeting kicking myself for having contributed little or nothing at all to the conversation.

Many leaders today find themselves struggling to perform in high-pressure (and these days, usually virtual) meetings, either because their performance anxiety causes a heightened level of fear and paralysis, or because they end up having to compete with bosses and coworkers who overtalk and take up more than their fair share of space in the room. Still others work valiantly to insert themselves but are passed over or rendered invisible or silent because of implicit bias or exclusive group norms.

Whatever the cause, for both leaders who struggle to be heard and bystanders who want to hear more from quiet colleagues, the skill of interrupting can be helpful to practice to disrupt group norms and bring out reserved voices.

For example, my client, Max (not his real name), is an HR leader at a Fortune 500 company. He spends most of his days answering hard questions with polish and candor. But recent feedback from his colleagues revealed that he’s perceived as avoiding hard, messy conversations around diversity and inclusion, and he admits that when he doesn’t know the right words, he can freeze or clam up in meetings.

For two months now, Max has been trying out a new practice when this happens: interrupting. Whenever the conversation moves toward a tense or complicated topic, Max inserts himself by saying, “I get that this is messy, and I want to try to share my perspective,” which allows him to participate powerfully and paves the way for him to share imperfectly. This simple practice has helped him stay present and vocal in these hard subject areas. It also invites others to participate in these challenging conversations.

Interrupting is controversial. When we’re interrupted while speaking, we can feel disrespected, and men tend to view women who interrupt as rude. Conversational style can also play a part in how a person views an interruption, as can cultural context.

However, as we work toward more inclusive workplaces, leaders can learn how to interrupt with respect to make space for the voices that are often silent or marginalized. The following tips can help you skillfully interrupt and bring yourself and others forward.

Start by noticing.

Observe the conversational dynamics and patterns in the room. Who’s talking a lot and who isn’t? Tune into self-awareness to notice your own contributions. Are you holding back? Are you oversharing? Evaluate how much psychological safety exists in the meeting and consider the topics that aren’t being voiced aloud. You can also review a video recording of the meeting to notice the patterns that aren’t visible in the moment.

Practice speaking up early.

If your tendency is to hold back, try speaking up in the first 30% of the meeting. When we take a risk and use our voice early — even in a simple act of noticing and naming — we can interrupt our brain’s proven fear-based amygdala response, making it easier to speak up later in the meeting. Answer a question early on or make small talk with a colleague before the meeting starts to habituate yourself to speaking up and make it easier to contribute when the stakes are higher.

Pause the action skillfully.

In the book Subtle Acts of Exclusion, authors Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran stress the importance of interrupting microaggressions in real time with a simple phrase to pause the action while putting the other person at ease. Witnesses can interrupt by stating a helpful intention: “Can we pause to discuss something that was just said? I’m sure you didn’t mean anything by it, but…” This is a moment to reinforce the relationship by communicating that you want to help, calling the other person in instead of calling them out.

Be willing to get it wrong.

In coaching, the skill of blurting helps give permission to be clumsy, messy, and human in our attempt to speak our truth. Blurting asks that we be willing to not know the right words or have the perfect way to name what we need to say. Blurt by using “I” statements to ground your observations in your own experience. For example, “I noticed that Karim was going to say something back there, can we go back?” or, “I noticed that I was holding back just there about something hard,” or, “I noticed that there’s something I want to say that’s messy, can I take a moment to try to put words to it?”

Design practices for interruption as a team.

Interrupting successfully as a team requires building a group norm of doing it with skill and respect and to not take it personally. Do your work’s cultural norms welcome interruption or punish it? Which topics and people can currently tolerate interruption? For whom is it not safe or accessible? Start a discussion to make your team aware of these dynamics.

In the practice of interrupting, clumsiness and awkwardness are a sign that it’s working. Over time, you’ll find it easier to insert yourself in spaces and make it safe for others to do the same. You’ll become more adept at finding the right moment to interrupt with fluidity and humility, and the systems and spaces you’re a part of may even come to welcome the interruption.

Gia Storms is a leadership coach and member of The Boda Group. She facilitates team and executive coaching from Los Angeles.

Do Co-op and Condo Boards Have to Play COVID Cop?

Marc Schneider and Justin Buchel  For Habitat Magazine

Laying down the law. As the coronavirus pandemic passes the one-year mark, co-op and condo boards are facing a pair of challenging questions: How far must a board go to enforce state and local laws and its own COVID-related house rules? And What are a board’s options when a shareholder or unit-owner fails to comply with laws or rules?

Many boards have struggled with the extent to which they must become COVID Cops. If masks are required in all public spaces, should the same apply to indoor co-op and condo common areas? We believe the answer is yes, which is why most of the boards we represent immediately enacted COVID emergency house rules that require wearing masks in common areas, social distancing in tight spaces (elevators, mailroom, etc.), restrictions on showing apartments as well as the closure of amenities (gyms, party rooms, pools, clubhouses, etc.). By doing this, boards were able to treat residents who weren’t following basic COVID protection guidance as violators of the co-op’s or condo’s governing documents.

Enforcing the law. But now that they have enacted the rules, what should boards do when people ignore them? Since the pandemic started, we have seen boards being flooded with complaints about other residents who are violating COVID safety measures. “John is not wearing a mask!” “Mary and Jane rode the elevator together even though they don’t live in the same household!” In our opinion, provided your board enacted proper house rules and regulations, you can legally enforce them in the same manner you would enforce any other violation of a house rule. If your governing documents give the board the legal power to levy fines, we recommend you use it. If your board is disinclined to do so, you should at least send warning notices or have the community’s attorney send a legal cease-and-desist notice. In whatever manner you proceed, we believe boards are within their legal right to enact and enforce basic COVID safety rules – and, in effect, become the COVID Cops of the community. If the violation is serious enough, such as a COVID-positive person walking around the building without a mask when that person should be quarantining, your board should take the necessary steps to stop the violation, which may even require taking the person to court.

Bending the law. But what if your board doesn’t have an appetite for assuming the role of COVID Cop? We believe that, in some instances, that’s OK, too. Board members are volunteers, and they typically have no obligation to go hunting for violators of the rules. However, that doesn’t mean board members can turn a blind eye. If a violation is obvious and either proven by photo or video evidence, or supported by witnesses, it should be addressed. But we do not believe boards need to set up stakeouts to catch people in the act of violating the rules. It’s impractical, if not impossible, for boards to ensure that all residents comply with COVID safety protocols every moment of the day. Moreover, such extreme measures are rarely necessary since, in most instances, the residents of the community will let the board or management know if they see a constant violator.

Regardless of the extent to which your board is willing to play COVID Cop, you should adopt house rules in accordance with the governing documents and make residents aware of those rules and any penalties for violating them. You should also advise residents that if they see someone violating those rules, they should say something to management or the board so it can be addressed.

Marc Schneider and Justin Buchel are partners at the law firm Schneider Buchel.

Is Your Organization Ready for Hybrid Work?

At the start of the pandemic, chances are your work life changed. If your role remained, you likely moved from working in the office to working from home. That was a big change for many people to adapt to working apart from each other. From the time we closed offices, many have been waiting for a return to normal. But guess what – the new normal will be different and more complex than it was before. Welcome to the work of hybrid work. Is your organization ready for it?

Deciding How To Decide

I realize that a future of hybrid work isn’t a foregone conclusion. Organizations must first decide what options will be considered and how to come to that decision. Our recommendation on those two points would be to open up the options and include as many parts of the organization as possible.

What are the options?  It seems to us, there are at least eight options – two we already know and have experienced and six that are variations on hybrid work.

  • A full return to work. Everyone returns to the workplace, like it in January 2020.
  • Remain fully (or largely) remote. Everyone remains in a work situation like they have been since March of 2021.
  • Hybrid by organizational choice. The organization will determine which jobs need to be in-office and which can be fully or partially remote.
  • Hybrid by individual choice. People, based on their circumstances or interest, choose office or remote.
  • A flexible working option. Everyone comes to work some of the time, and when they come to the office, they still have their own desk and workspace.
  • Few if anyone is in the office every day, and when they do come in, they will be assigned a workspace, but not necessarily the same desk or workspace every time.
  • In-person infrequently. In this option full teams will gather but do so infrequently. Most likely this would be for specific meetings, events or training. While this could happen with any of the other hybrid work options, in a pure sense this is a largely remote scenario.
  • Something else. This is the catch-all option for a scenario that isn’t quite any of these others or is a combination of some of them.

When looking at the options consider the needs (and wants) of the organization and the needs (and wants) of the teammates. How these will be weighted and how the ultimate decision is reached will of course, need to be determined for your organization. If you take all of that into account and engage a wide range of perspectives you will come to a decision that will be better understood and gain wider acceptance sooner.

After You Decide

After a decision on the future of work in your organization is made there are two big next steps:

  • Create clarity. Very little of what you just read is black and white. While the options will be helpful in guiding discussion, once an option is selected, there will be dozens of questions that ill need to be clarified. The more clearly you can describe your plan and the answer the “what-if” questions, the faster people will understand and be ready to move forward.
  • Build commitment. Clarity is an important step towards commitment, but the more committed your team/organization is to the selected working option, the more effective they will be throughout the transition.

What To Do Now

What you can do now depends on where your organization is in the decision-making process and what your role in the organization might be.  Regardless though of your role however, there are some things you can be doing to help the organization and yourself.

Thinking organizationally, you can be engaged by:

  • Being positive and offer to help where needed
  • Offering your perspective in a helpful way
  • Showing your interest in the future
  • Sharing this article if it might help others
  • Being a force for the change as it arrives

Thinking individually, you can:

  • Continue to build your skills for the future of work
  • Keep a positive outlook about the future
  • Keep your family and those around you aware of what the future might be – because they are a part o your personal transition as well

The decisions that organizations make about hybrid work in the coming weeks/months will have a lasting impact on their results and culture.  Thinking about these monumental decisions now will help you prepare for and be ready for your future.

Virtual homeowners association meetings lead to increased attendance nationwide

By Ed Crump for ABC Channel 11 News in Raleigh, NC

When the pandemic first hit, homeowners association boards had a dilemma – how to hold meetings when people can’t meet in person like the government requires?

Hope Carmichael, an HOA attorney and past president of Communities Associations Institute of North Carolina, told ABC 11 that CAI members turned to the governor.

“We have an executive order, and in fact it’s been extended now through May the 10th, for associations to hold their membership meetings virtually,” Carmichael said.

Carmichael, of Raleigh, explained that the emergency order allowed board members to set up online meetings.

The emergency experiment ended up working better than expected according to Carmichael who said, “The real benefit that has surprised everyone is that participation by members in the community has increased.”

Some HOA members, who may have previously found attending board meetings too much of an effort, realized it was much easier when you could just log in on your computer or smartphone.

And if you weren’t showered or properly dressed, you could log in with audio only.

Carmichael said HOA board members reported to CAI comments from homeowners like, “We love that we didn’t have to leave home to go to the meeting.”

Another reply being, “We love that both my husband and I can be at the meeting and didn’t have to get a babysitter.”

Virtual attendance was especially good at HOA meetings for second-home neighborhoods, like at the beach or in the mountains, where owners are often out-of-town or out-of-state.

And homeowner attendance wasn’t the only benefit.

Board member attendance also increased, meetings were shortened and the boards found they also saved money.

“A homeowner association can take advantage of that software for less than $100,” Carmichael said, “That’s less than the cost of renting the church fellowship hall.”

And renting meeting space, at a local church or other facility, is what many HOA boards have to do.

So there is a desire by both board members and homeowners to continue some form of virtual meeting because in many ways online conferencing has proven beneficial.

“Hopefully a benefit that the legislature will see fit to pass some laws and allow it to happen,”

Carmichael expects legislation to be introduced soon and expects that any attempt to change the current HOA meeting rules will have to balance the benefit to both HOA boards and homeowners and likely involve hybridized meetings in order to be voted into law.

The end of COVID-19: What the workforce thinks about returning to the office

by Brandon Vigliarolo in CXO For TechRepublic

As vaccination rates increase it’s time to start thinking about the world post-pandemic, and business leaders should use this Glassdoor survey as a way to gauge how they respond.

A survey of United States workers performed by Glassdoor found that the national workforce has some very particular opinions about what the workplace should look like in the post-pandemic world, including the fact that 86% want to continue working from home at least part of the time.

The COVID-19 pandemic started just around a year ago, and it seems like we may finally be glimpsing a light at the end of the Zoom-heavy tunnel we’ve been in for the past 12 months. Vaccination rates are increasing in the U.S. and around the globe, and President Joseph Biden said there will be enough vaccines for every American who wants one by mid-May. 

With those facts in mind, it’s time for the business world to start thinking about what comes next. “Employers must take employee feedback into account to determine what is best for their workforce, including how to best support employees who plan to get the vaccine, and employees who do not,” said Carina Cortez, Glassdoor chief people officer. 

Seventy percent of employees, the survey found, want COVID-19 vaccines to be required for employees who want to return to the office. Those numbers are higher for employees ages 35 to 44, of whom 84% want a vaccine mandate, as opposed to only 58% of 18- to 34-year-olds.

Most may want a vaccine requirement, but most don’t consider that a necessary condition for employment: Only 23% said they would quit if they were required to return to the office before all employees were vaccinated.  

Strong opinions on the vaccination of coworkers is reflected in the rate at which respondents said they plan to get vaccinated. Seventy-six percent said they’ll get the shot once it’s available to them, and as with the opinion on requirements, there’s a split between age groups. Eighty-one percent between ages 35 and 44 said they plan to get the vaccine, while only 66% of the 18-34 group plan to. A quarter of respondents said they don’t plan to get the vaccine.

Most employees would also appreciate employer incentives for getting the vaccine, with 69% saying companies should offer financial incentives like cash bonuses or extra PTO. Sixty-eight percent said they would be more likely to get the vaccine if such an incentive program was in place in their business. 

Lastly, it seems that employee opinions on working from home, as mentioned above, are near universal: 86% said they want to continue working remotely at least part of the time once offices reopen. Seventeen percent even take a hard-line position on their remote work: They’d consider quitting if they were required to return to the office five days a week, regardless of their opinion on vaccine requirements, incentives, or the like. 

Remote work is here to stay” has been a common refrain since mid-2020, with plenty of experts weighing in on what seems to be the likely course of the future of business. Glassdoor’s findings reflect that employees agree with those assessments, and business leaders would do well not to ignore their opinions as the world starts to reopen and prepare for life in a post-COVID world.