Over the past decade, managing package deliveries has become a necessary part of condo corporation management due to the increasing popularity of online shopping for clothes, furniture, toiletries, and much more. Buying virtual is accessible, convenient and fast, and has only become more so in the last few years due to retailers moving online. After placing an order online, residents keep a watchful eye and track their packages along the way. Still, since they live in a condo corporation, they depend on the concierge and strata manager to keep their package safe and ready to be picked up at the front desk with minimal effort. 

According to eMarketer, this year online shopping became a whole new ballpark due to COVID-19, as e-commerce accounted for 8.7% of all retail in Canada in 2020 as of June. Now that the holiday season is upon us, the online shopping phenomenon will only increase due to the amount of gift shopping that will occur for a resident’s family and friends. There will be a higher than normal volume of packages accepted at front desk. This might cause more pressure for the concierge as they need to manage all the packages for quick and easy pick-up while continuing to conduct other day-to-day tasks.

The Challenges 

  1.  Storage needs have changed. 

    It is important to recognize that a small locker room in a condominium building may no longer be sufficient for the number of package deliveries brought in every day. "The space set aside is not often large enough," says Linh Doyle, regional director at FirstService Residential. "The area needed to accommodate them needs to be close to the front desk, so that concierge doesn’t have to abandon their station to obtain packages continuously." 

  2. COVID-19 continues to be a risk factor. 

    There has been a continuous risk factor throughout 2020 because of COVID-19, but this increases immensely with the holiday season. This is because delivery interactions don't start with the pick-up of packages from front desk by residents. Many package carriers will be coming into the building every day, which involves different interactions with deliverers and contact with cardboard surfaces. 

  3. Constant interactions with residents may lead to burnout. 

Along with being on the front lines already, concierges will need to consistently interact with residents when they are asked to obtain a package, or in some cases, multiple packages. This can be an overwhelming process, especially when managing crowd control and pick-up times, much to the resident's frustration. This causes much stress for the concierge and may ultimately lead to burnout, where they may not work as efficiently as before. 

The Solutions

Here’s a look at how FirstService Residential is taking the necessary precautions throughout the holidays to keep concierge, residents, and strata managers safe. 

  1. ​Making room for the package deliveries.  

    As mentioned, package deliveries are coming in at a high rate, with piles of them coming to the concierge desk. Our solution is to dedicate locker rooms for these packages or, if available, a large storage room to provide ample space for concierges to move around. 

    Further, we instruct the concierge to write out essential details as a delivery comes in, to make pick-up more efficient as they will not have to scramble through numerous packages to find the right one. 

    Concierges can log these details as soon as they come in and throughout the pick-up process. These details include the date, the carrier, the recipient's name, the package placement, the time picked up, and a signature from the resident signaling the package has been picked up. 

  2. Establishing the right COVID-19 protocols. 

    There are many areas of the delivery process that have already been changed to suit the current times, but here we dive into the best distancing protocols. 

    Building plexiglass to separate concierges and others.

    Minimizing contact with residents and carriers is essential during this time since there will be a lot of face-to-face interaction. For this reason, we have plexiglass to separate the concierge and protect them throughout this process, with drop-off or pick-up occurring on the side of the lobby's front desk. 

    Protect your front desk workers with a condo mask mandate. 

    When picking up packages, residents should be wearing a mask covering their nose and mouth since there may be a small amount of face-to-face contact when dropping the package off on the side. 

    Place distancing stickers on the floor. 

    Placing designated stickers on the floor that spread six feet away from each other encourages social distancing for residents. This also prevents residents from crowding around each other as they wait to pick up their packages. 

    Consider the elevator capacity.  

    Residents should be encouraged to avoid entering elevators in groups of more than two people, especially if they have large deliveries. This mandate has already been put in place in all condos, but it should be a constant reminder to avoid a packed elevator. Residents should wait for the next elevator if the other ones are full.

  3. Streamline the pick-up process.

To ensure that residents know what time pick-ups are allowed during the day, establish hours where this will be made possible. Our strata managers can determine these times and have them posted throughout the condo corporation or emailed to the residents for notice. For example, strata managers can notify residents that hours of pick-up are between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM. 

Further, we have provided time slots for residents to come to pick their delivery from the front desk. Emailing or texting residents with their specific time slot for pick-up makes the process more streamlined. 

This process benefits concierges as they will know which residents will be coming down at which times, checking their list beforehand to know what packages to bring out for a quicker exchange.

In conclusion, during this uncertain time for all FirstService Residential has provided concierges, strata managers and residents the correct safety protocols according to the Public Health Agency of Canada and municipal bylaws. 

At FirstService, we are always on the lookout for best practices from other industries that can be applied to efficient strata management. Our proprietary Connect portal lets you manage packages the same way professional carriers do. As packages come in, they can be scanned and uploaded at the front desk by the concierge, reducing the probability of error. Find out more about Connect here.

Friday December 18, 2020