This past Wednesday, CoFounder and CEO Felicite Moorman and CoFounder and CTO Ryan Buchert hosted the Wednesdays at 1 webinar and discussed: how will the world change with this pandemic?
Felicite began with saying there are people joining the webinar who have experienced the loss of friends and family members due to COVID-19 and the entire STRATIS team sends heartfelt love and condolences. She thanked the group for being vulnerable and being part of a group that comes together each week.
The webinar began with the icebreaker prompt: What was your first job? Felicite’s was a babysitting and landscaping business when she was 12, and she was later a movie theater manager. Below are some responses from the audience:
- Ranch hand
- Summer resident advisor (RA)
- Umbrella and beach chair salesman
- Bicycle repair shop at 9 years old
- Bus boy at the Jersey Shore
- Giant dog mascot for promotional events
- Lawn cutter
- Dishwasher at amusement park
- Blueberry picker
- Personal assistant to off-Broadway performer
- Merchandiser for 7-Eleven
- Rice cake seller at 8-10 years old in the summers
As the world is shifting, our perceptions and understandings of our jobs and careers may be as well.
What are business practices and norms have you seen changing already?
Felicite Moorman (FM): Work from home is the obvious. STRATIS is in the business of using technology to create efficiencies for apartments and student housing, and we are already being asked about making access (locks, doors, keys, etc) touchless.
Right now, you can use your phone as a key so you don’t have to touch a key, but how can you avoid touching handles? This requires a shift from what we’ve been installing.
I’ve also seen marketing around covid using fear as a tool to sell during this time. We’re not doing that, marketing with fear and doubt, and instead we are sharing positive messaging around how we enable our properties.
From audience member: What is touchless entry?
FM: Think automatic doors. This can’t be done everywhere in properties, so how can you let the door know that it’s you? This could look like Bluetooth credentialing, smart cards, etc. What we don’t want to do is enable aggressive data collection, so we are steering clear of biometrics like facial recognition.
Ryan Buchert (RB): Aside from how we’re conducting business now over video, without physical meetings, we’re also seeing on a macro level, how people view successful businesses. Companies that are cash hungry, running fast and loose, are beginning to be viewed differently already. At STRATIS we’re already aligned to be cash strategic, which has been serving us well.
FM: We’ve been profitable the last 2 quarters. We shifted our product strategy to focus on optimizing actual efficiencies we can prove: energy savings, water management, risk mitigation, increases in security, things we can put dollar values to for our properties. As a team, seeing the signs of a possible slowdown in the economy, we decided to shift product development that would support those efficiencies. And Ryan is right, those companies that are focused on providing true value, consistently, reliably, cyber securely, they are going to be on the other side of this seen as doing good, stable business.
How will real estate and Multifamily industry change, do you think?
FM: Those who are behaving, being conservative and strategic in their spend, are the people who can weather a storm. Nobody wants to weather a storm, but it certainly behooves you when there is one. That said, we still have a housing crisis, and an affordable housing crisis. My hope is that what the government does for affordable housing is in the form of tax credit, without cutting those credits or subsidies.
What are things you hope will be included in the new normal?
FM: Housing security and the ability for people to know that global crises don’t eliminate their home. My hope is that all these things that are becoming more obvious as challenges in global events will result in deeper care and concern, not just for one another but also at the global and national levels.
RB: I believe technology will be a part of a lot of things moving forward with efficiencies heading into apartments. I’m hoping for certain things not to happen, like the over-tracking of people. There’s a lot of concern around how to track people who have had contact with covid. One way is to track Bluetooth signals from phones and what other Bluetooth signals its near to. This would expose every place you’ve been, every contact you’ve had, so I’m not all a fan of that. I’m a fan of encrypted, well-done methodology that doesn’t track that but can let you know someone you’ve been in contact with has had covid. We’re already giving up a lot of personal data. I expect technology will shift, and I hope it’s done right.
FM: Cybersecurity and data privacy are big commitments for us with the greater technology community and strategy at STRATIS. It’s a huge hope to guard against data overreaches.
How are things that you see staying constant?
FM: This didn’t stay constant, but what I hope will change is that I turned down a lot of plans to continue working. I said no to a lot of people, and I’m going to say yes a lot more often.
RB: You can say the constant is the need to see human faces.
FM: Oh, you’re good at this. What about you?
RB: The constant to me is the human drive to continue to function and be who we are. At STRATIS, our engineers still love being engineers, our support people are doing even better at supporting. They’re still being who they are and moving the world forward.
FM: For Ashana on the wellness team, it’s taken a whole new color as you try to take care of people who are the boots on the ground at properties and cope with residents, prospective residents, and people who are struggling. (From Ashana via Zoom chat: I actually feel more needed by our properties and my job is clearer.)
From audience member: How do you think we can maintain a feeling of community despite distancing and separation/isolation? How do you think maintenance practices can/will change/adapt?
FM: Property managers were already fostering community before through events like yoga class and my hope is property managers who are embracing these technologies then do an online yoga class, which accomplishes 2 things: enriching their own community and supporting a small business owner.
RB: They’re becoming very conscious of how many people have to interact and how to automate more of the process. I don’t know much about how that is going to go but we’re getting more requests around doing more self-touring and minimizing interaction of leasing agents.
From a member of our support team: We have reiterated recently on support tickets that if a door needs to be reprogrammed, the Property Staff can do it from 30 ft away.
FM: To end on an encouraging note, when Mr. Rogers was a toddler, he was worried about hard times and his mother said to him, “Look for the helpers.” I encourage us to not only look for the helpers, but also be the helpers in our community. Reach out -from a social distance- and help.
STRATIS®, a RealPage Company, creates smart apartments and intelligent buildings and is the only platform of its kind built for the complexities of multifamily and student housing. STRATIS is installed worldwide across the U.S., in Japan, the UK, EU, and Latin America. STRATIS now serves hospitality, retail, and small to mid-size commercial, as well. STRATIS is an Inc. Magazine “Fastest Growing Company in America” and a Top Ten Entrepreneur Magazine “Best Company in America.” STRATIS was recently acquired by RealPage to enable CommunityConnect, a more connected lifestyle, and unleash hidden yield through new revenue streams.