In many states and counties, there are still restrictions in place when it comes to large gatherings of people due to higher than desired rates of coronavirus infections. Maintaining social distancing can help to decrease spread of the disease. These guidelines have a direct impact on homeowners associations (HOAs) who may be planning for their fall annual meeting. Usually, this is an in-person gathering of homeowners, but now many associations are shifting meetings online.
As the #HOA goes virtual, there a lot of considerations to keep in mind to organize a meeting that aligns with state and federal requirements, as well as rules set forth by the association’s governing documents.
Select an appropriate platform. There are many online conference programs available, and many have free or low-cost options that can fit the HOA’s needs. Compare the features of different platforms such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. The board will want to select a system that can accommodate the anticipated number of attendees and has features that enable easy sharing of information, management of meetings, and group discussions.
Whomever is running the meeting should understand how to use the software, how to invite and remove attendees, how to mute or unmute individuals, how to share the screen, and how to do other actions that may be necessary. Also, make sure that all board members have a strong connection and signal wherever they will be attending from, and their camera and microphone work well. It can be a good idea for the board to test things out ahead of time to try to work out any issues before the meeting.
Prepare materials. Just like with in-person meetings, the board will want to ensure that it has an organized agenda, and any materials attendees may need are available electronically or have been distributed before the meeting date. Anyone who is presenting should shift their information to an online format such as a PowerPoint or video.
Make a plan for voting. Voting is one of the biggest challenges HOAs face. Decide whether you will use an online voting system; if you do go this route, it should be installed and members should be taught how to use it before the actual vote takes place. Some associations may also opt to have members continue to use paper ballots, but have them collected and secured to open at the meeting. A few essential members may be together in a room wearing proper protective equipment to open and count the ballots, a process that should be shown live online to virtual attendees. Some HOAs may opt to postpone voting if possible until in-person meetings are once again safe to hold.
Set clear expectations. Whether meetings are held online or in person, there are still certain guidelines and etiquette that should be followed. Educate members about these expectations and the proper procedures for asking questions or sharing their opinions.
There are a lot of factors to consider when shifting the HOA annual meeting online. Partnering with a property management group like Kuester can provide the board with insight and support to create more effective plans and hold virtual meetings. The board doesn’t have to try to figure everything out on its own. Contact Kuester today to learn more about how we can help.