Novus Blog

SOCIAL HOUSING MAINTENANCE: INVOLVING TENANTS USING TECHNOLOGY

SOCIAL HOUSING MAINTENANCE: INVOLVING TENANTS USING TECHNOLOGY

  16 DECEMBER, 2019      INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Households living in private rented properties have more than doubled since 2001, and analysis from PwC UK suggests that by 2025 there will be more people privately renting in the UK than owning property.  The growing agenda requires greater involvement of tenants. It is set to ensure that they will have access to information about any changes that will occur in the building they live in and must be notified when fire prevention systems are checked, as well as gas, electric and water structures. Tenants will be consulted and offered choice wherever possible. They must also be able to make comments or observations about the building, and report these efficiently.  The challenge  Digitalisation in the private renting sector means that tenants are beginning to expect more from social housing providers, but 57% of the landlords that Halton Housing surveyed last year said that less than half of their current customer transactions involve digital technology.  As a result, Britannic technologies found that nearly 80% of customers feel that there is a lack of omnichannel support from their provider, and 81% had not had a positive customer experience at all. There are some improvements to be made, and it is time to tackle this challenge head-on.  The opportunity, and the role of technology Social housing maintenance contracts are one of our primary sectors of operation at Novus. Effective customer communication and support is promised from the outset by our dedicated Customer Care Team, which will engage with your tenants to identify and accommodate their needs. We are looking to further improve and digitalise our methods of communication by implementing a variety of new media and technologies.  73% of landlords claim that “meeting customer needs” is their biggest driver to use modern technology in communications, while 79% agree that increasing efficiency through better use of resources is theirs.  Technology could be about to change the way landlords manage their properties and communicate with tenants, and if they implement new technologies they could see an increase in satisfaction and retention rates. Social housing companies should consider how they will adapt to the changes that modern technology has enabled, as falling behind is likely to cause complications in the future and impact the success of the business.  Putting technology into practice  Day-to-day communications can be vastly simplified and improved by implementing technology. Whether that is through a text to confirm an appointment or the ability to communicate with landlords via an online chat feature.  Richard Jacques, letting director at Purplebricks, finds that 60% of activity happens when traditional estate agents are closed, so the company has given landlords and tenants access to a secure portal which enables them to liaise with each other 24/7.  There are also opportunities to use artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) when it comes to social housing maintenance. Tenants can report repairs online using AI diagnostic tools, or see proposed changes to communal areas for themselves using AR or VR. Ana Nekhamkin, Managing Director at Inhabit, explains how technology provides the opportunity to enhance the resident experience and create operating efficiencies for landlords.  One way of deciding how to best utilise technology in your housing association is to consider a current problem or disruption and look for a technology solution to assist you.  Why should I consider this? Increasing the use of digital technology could be a great way to cut costs, drive efficiencies and above all, improve services for tenants. There are also benefits when it comes to safety and the environment, and the quality of products is likely to improve with the greater precision and reliability that technology offers.  Alongside all of this, implementing technology is likely to positively impact the health and wellbeing of your tenants. Simplifying processes and offering more choice will reduce the stresses that typically come hand-in-hand with some of the more traditional methods of correspondence.  Balancing act  For almost half of social housing landlords, the key driver to use modern technology is to reduce overall cost. However, some have been slow to adopt technologies that do not directly benefit them in the short-term, despite certain technologies increasing efficiencies for both landlords and tenants.  An efficient and timely customer experience has become a baseline expectation. In fact, 42% of consumers cited a quick resolution as the most important element within customer service.  Balancing tenant demand and leaseholder restrictions can be a challenge, but customer satisfaction is not the place to cut corners. Technologies that have been developed and applied in other fields are low risk, and could be a great place to start.  Ensure you are getting it right by conducting tenant consultations. This can help you to develop an understanding of how they currently use digital technology and how they would like to communicate with their landlord. Repeat consultations can also give tenants the opportunity to share feedback, and tell you how satisfied they are.   An ongoing process Changes will not be implemented overnight, but the sooner they do, the faster housing associations will start to see results. Here is how Novus can help with your social housing refurbishment.
Workspace refurbishment: open your doors to the opportunities

WORKSPACE REFURBISHMENT: OPEN YOUR DOORS TO THE OPPORTUNITIES

  14 OCTOBER, 2019      INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
An office space when nurtured has the power to transform a business and the mind-set of those who work there. The health and wellbeing of employees should be prioritised in any business and when this is central to the workspace design, positivity and wellness will follow. So take a good look at your working environment. Does it reflect the aspirations of your business? A tired and uninspiring environment is likely to have a negative impact on the people who work there. Here are some considerations for your next office refurbishment and some reasons to choose Novus. Customised design One size does not fit all when it comes to workspace design. We know that your vision is unique and that a building refurbishment should reflect the business’ goals and aspirations. Through understanding your vision, we can create co-working spaces where you, your staff, your networks, business partners and ultimately your business can flourish. A shared vision We work closely with you to deliver a space that meets your specific requirements. At Novus, we have a proven track record of providing office construction and refurbishment expertise and experience, to help you achieve even the most ambitious of projects. All Novus projects begin with us meeting to discuss our client’s unique requirements. This initial stage is crucial in helping us gain a clear understanding of the office refurbishment requirements, and it also offers opportunity to flag any potential issues - from design issues to ways of working. We will work around a client’s schedule to minimise disruption to the business, if working in an occupied building. Health and safety One of the biggest concerns for our clients is often the safety of the employees who work in the building during the office refurbishment. Safety is our number one priority and risk assessments will be completed for all projects. We take extra care when moving around the office building, and we will introduce barriers to ensure the safety of employees. Why Choose Novus? "One of the core beliefs at Novus is that we believe the foundations of a project will ultimately determine the long-term success of a refurbishment. Listening carefully to a client and discussing the possibilities lets us highlight potential opportunities they may not be aware of, while also letting us understand how their world operates.” Mick MacDonald, Novus Site Manager. Past clients have happily referred us due to the great work delivered, the flexibility provided and the bespoke, customised plans that worked for them. Find out more about some of the work we have done for Midland Heart and bet365.
Hotel Refrubishment

STAYCATION NATION: IMPROVING THE UK HOLIDAY EXPERIENCE ONE HOTEL REFURBISHMENT AT A TIME

  16 SEPTEMBER, 2019      INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
British hotels have seen an increase in revenue for eight consecutive years. Is it any wonder, when 32% of us Brits prefer to holiday at home, according to a 2019 YouGov survey? And why not, with exciting destinations like York, Devon and Manchester right on our doorstep? Home holiday makers want a hotel that meets their criteria. They need a great location with friendly staff who will make recommendations. Somewhere on trend, yet affordable. The correct facilities and cleanliness goes without saying. In fact, 60% of Brits agree that cleanliness is the most important element when choosing a hotel (YouGov 2019). Novus are delivering 1,077 hotel room refurbishments in 2019 alone. So we know a thing or two about staying relevant to the brand and evolving trends. Here are some considerations for your next refurbishment. Staying relevant Outdated. Needs a refurb. These are some of the more frequently used phrases in negative hotel reviews. So it’s easy to understand why investing in new fixtures and a lick of paint could mean the difference between a one star review and a word-of-mouth recommendation, but how frequently should you be thinking about refurbishment? A significant drop in bookings could indicate it’s time for a change. Failing this, the renovation cycle can help you plan ahead. A Light Touch Refurbishment is likely to take place once every three to six years. This could involve replacing furniture, fixtures and modernising the style of the hotel on the whole. A hotel is likely to carry out a full refurbishment after 12 years to stay on top of maintenance and structure idealisations. Complete renovation is more likely to occur once every 30 to 50 years and will involve making changes on a larger scale. What a guest values in a hotel will change over time, so regular refurbishments are essential to continued success. It’s important to stay on top of trends and changes in the industry and technology to remain relevant when it comes to hotel design and features. Think of the experience like an opportunity to refresh your offer and stand out against the competition. Minimising disturbances  Keeping guests happy during refurbishments can be a challenge. Unfortunately, this prevents some hotels from making changes. It may seem like there is never a good time to refurbish, but effective planning, can make scheduling of works, as non-disruptive refurbishment possible. Novus would recommend creating a list of priority areas and gaining an understanding of how long each refurbishment is likely to take, to minimise impact on guests. Novus have a usual project lead time of 8-12 working weeks, depending on the complexity and scale of the work required. Type of refurbishment/Duration Bedroom - 10-12 daysBathroom - 2-3 weeks Reception - 8-10 weeks Dining area - 8-12 weeks We can then work with you to schedule refurbishments for any low demand periods, to take advantage of any flexibility with the projects timings. Novus promise to carry out loud tasks between check-in and check-out periods to prevent sleep disturbance and ultimately minimise disruption for guests. Communication  Novus deliver pre-start letters to the hotels management to introduce the team. We also provide regular updates throughout the refurbishment period, offering tips and support when it comes to keeping hotel staff informed and relaying news to guests.With all of this in mind, it is possible to avoid negative ratings and reviews during times of refurbishment, as long as expectations are managed, and strategies are put in place to help minimise the impact on the business. Here’s how Novus can help with your hotel refurbishment.  
A Novus Contract Liason Officer talking to a woman in the doorway

NEW CSR IDEAS SHOULD BE GENERATED FROM BOTTOM-UP, NOT TOP-DOWN

  23 JULY, 2019      CSR , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Kevin Rhone our Head of Social Value and Customer Service, discusses CSR partnerships between contractors and registered providers. Now more than ever, contractors want to be bolder in their CSR efforts and the days of these initiatives being a tick-box exercise are over. Contractors recognise the commercial benefits and housing providers have an opportunity to make better use of this. Could landlords and their suppliers be bolder in creating initiatives together? The answer is: absolutely. If you are still of the mindset that contractors view CSR with cynicism, then you need to look at efforts by the sector outside of contractual obligations. The construction industry recognises that CSR’s benefits extend beyond just improving communities. For instance, CSR is a fantastic way of bringing staff together and building a positive workforce culture. As a result, it can help retain talent and inspire workforces. We have seen CSR projects really drive home these positives in our own teams. Our charity initiative last year saw us invest £100,000 across five transformational projects around the UK – each nominated by local communities. The campaign, called the Novus Big Five, galvanised our workforce as well as engaging local people. It united our colleagues up and down the country under a common goal while also supporting our values as a family-owned business.  It’s also highlighted the benefits of working with communities themselves to generate ideas for CSR. The initiatives over the year included a range of projects from a refurbishment of a rehabilitation centre for military veterans struggling with addiction to a new ward at a hospital in Brighton for parents who had lost their child during labour, which gives them the space they need to grieve. The range of worthy projects nominated far exceeded the ideas we would have had alone. The learning is that landlords and housing associations should create open forums where contractors on the ground and communities feel empowered to generate their own ideas for CSR. Our workforces are often social landlords’ eyes and ears on the ground in their estates and people living there have an unmatched understanding of the area itself. Together they have a unique insight into where money could be best spent to solve issues. In addition, getting early buy-in from the community and contractor workforces themselves can lead to a valuable initial groundswell of support for projects, including additional fundraising. As partners, we should set ambitious targets too and put as much pressure on ourselves to generate bigger results. However, it isn’t necessarily about investing more time and money, it’s about making sure that, whatever we’re doing, that it can create a lasting difference. By thinking about CSR from the bottom up and asking communities and contractor teams on the ground where they see the biggest issues in communities can help social landlords to make much bigger impacts in their communities.
PRESS OFFICE
Hannah O'Brien
Telephone: 07854 781631
Email: hannah.obrien@novussolutions.co.uk
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