Business as Unusual Part II: COVID, Connection & Creativity

Enjoy Business as Unusual Part I here.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented kindness.

A lot has changed in a short time, and we are all trying to grasp the catastrophic impact coronavirus has wreaked around the world. What keeps us going is a reframing: This is an opportunity to demonstrate again that United Properties is resilient, and our relationships with our communities, our owner and one another are supportive and strong. We can adapt to this new normal.

Laura Peterson’s girls with “thinking of you” cards they created for Cherrywood Pointe residents.

Now is the time we most need kindness, yet we must be apart to curb the spread of the virus. For us, individually and as an organization, the important question is how can we be there without physically being there?

Here are just a few creative ways the employees and partners of United Properties unite in the wake of the pandemic to care for each other, our families and friends, as well as the communities where we live and do business.

1.   Love notes to our seniors

When our senior living communities began restricting family visits, Laura Peterson (associate asset manager, senior living) and her daughters channeled their creative energy into 10 handmade cards for resident members at one of our Cherrywood Pointe communities. Their thoughtful project brought many smiles!

2.   WFH Facebook page

Shortly after the office closures, it became clear that we needed an internal forum exclusively for mutual support and comic relief. Our IT team worked with company leaders to successfully launch a private work-from-home Facebook page, which has proven to be a constant source of day-brighteners: at-home happy hours, nature walks, WFH outfits, links to coronavirus relief initiatives, must-try recipes, a spring “polar plunge” in the pool and many priceless shots of dogs, cats, plants and kiddos.

3.   Just checking in!

Virtual morning check-ins, lunch bunches and happy hours keep us looking forward to our time together and steadily optimistic. Despite constant wariness, sometimes a “had to be there” moment that encapsulates our company culture takes us by surprise. Case in point: When our co-president Matt Van Slooten performed an original song on guitar titled “Coronavirus Blues” for our first virtual all-company happy hour.

Relatable and memorable, the bluesy ballad narrates some of the challenges and emotions provoked by the pandemic.

 

 

4.   Daily doggy parade

After the office closures, Stacy Feliciano (Applewood Pointe office manager) and her neighbor invited everyone along their walking route to the (socially distant) Daily Dinnertime Doggy Parade at 5 p.m. A group has convened for the parade just about every day since.

“One day, a small group of us came around a corner and a little girl saw us,” Stacy shared. “I heard her shout, ‘Daddy! The parade is here!’”

5.   March food drive

We’d like to give a shout-out to Pequita Jordan (executive administrator) for her community giving leadership of United Properties’ March food drive. She and Lynn Camp (AVP & director of business development) refused to let the initiative slip, pursuing it through the closures. Read more about the response in Part I.

“It weighed heavily on my mind when we got sent home,” Pequita shared. “I did not want the food drive to sit, but I also did not want to overwhelm staff as folks are dealing with their own new reality.”

The Sheridan Story’s executive director recently called Pequita to express thanks for the donation and food collection. He reported that Sheridan has been providing 100,000 meals a week — five times the usual.

6.   Sidewalk chalk challenge

Linsey Stender’s (senior accountant) daughters participated in their school’s sidewalk chalk challenge calling for students to create an encouraging picture or message on the driveway or sidewalk. We think it’s lovely how art can connect us — shine your light, girls!

7.   New tricks & tools

We don’t know about you, but since the closures, our inboxes have been inundated. Early adopters within the office say that using a channel- or thread-based communication tool outside of Outlook has both relieved their inboxes and improved project efficiency. For example, Microsoft Teams allows users to organize conversations into threads by team or project. Team members then share files, thought processes and inspiration within that central hub, which allows for focused collaboration and simplified workflows.

Screen-shares, video conferences and electronic signatures have also become more intrinsic than ever before. Throughout the past five weeks, everyone has learned new tricks to maximize efficiency and maintain connection to teammates through this period of remote work.

8.   The gift of “face-to-face”

Heartfelt thanks to the caregiver at our Cherrywood Pointe community who set up FaceTime for a resident after her memory care unit was placed under lockdown. The resident often does not remember her daughter, but when her daughter’s face appeared on the screen, the resident’s face lit up and she called out her daughter’s name. Truly priceless.

 

 

“Thanks so much for sending the card and pictures of Helene. It is very special that you would take the time to do that,” Jerry (Helene’s husband) wrote in a message to leadership.

9.   Comfort cards

One Cherrywood Pointe community helped its memory care residents make comfort cards for their families in response to social distancing. The cards included “glamour shots” of smiling resident members and notes of reassurance. Thank you, Cherrywood Pointe, for your kindness and genuine care for our senior neighbors and their families!

 

 

Trying times bring out the worst and the best — they bring out individuals’ and companies’ true colors. We must look out for one another and strive for the best. For us, this is what it means to create deep roots in the communities where we live and do business.

In solidarity,
The People of United Properties