Our first Breakfast Briefing on 'The Community Opportunity' in housing operations.
The bright morning light streamed in to the Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe.
Outside, a glorious view of St Pauls and a crisp breeze with the gentle ebb of the Thames.
Inside, the sounds of good cheer, the whir of a coffee machine and the beginnings of Plentific’s first ever breakfast briefing.
Its focus: communities; specifically the community opportunity in housing operations.
There's an opportunity in housing.
A new wave of innovation is enabling us to transform operations whilst realising social value. In this session we set out to discuss how better housing operations can connect operational success in housing to social progress in local communities.
Our guest speakers included Emma O’Shea (Director of Asset and Housing Strategy at Peabody), Helen McGregor (Director of Asset Management at Notting Hill Genesis) and Alex Stephany (Founder and CEO of Tech-for-good sensation Beam).
Leading the session was our own Cem Savas, co-founder of Plentific. The discussion kicked off with Cem getting everyone’s thoughts on the crucial factors in building better communities - from a technological standpoint.
To transform operations.
Emma explained that to accomplish this, any digital offering or transformation of the sector needs to be fit for purpose. It needs to deliver on the requirements of tenants at the core, but also enable and empower operational teams. She discussed her ideal digital offering, which would take some of the administrative burden off housing teams and allow staff to reinvest their time where it’s most needed - out in the neighbourhoods, with the tenants.
Emma further explained that partnering with local suppliers in certain areas and re-evaluating the current operational structures in housing will going to further drive this community-focused approach.
“ Housing management teams often become siloed. You can’t underestimate the importance of collaboration - having a strong link right from the community foundation, all the way up to service delivery.”
Helen McGregor from Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) reinforced the sentiment. She suggested that there should be an outcome-focused approach to building communities. “We need to ask: how are our homes helping residents? Until that, we won’t be able to support the growth of healthy communities.”
You can’t underestimate the importance of collaboration - having a strong link right from the community foundation, all the way up to service delivery.” Emma O'Shea, Director of Asset and Housing Strategy at Peabody
At the heart of healthy communities are connections. Alex Stephany spoke with real passion to this point and how technology has the potential to build such connections. These connections have big, positive implications for both operations teams and tenants. Alex used his pioneering work with Beam as an example of realising success through social progress.
The discussion continued on a range of topics - from transforming repairs and harnessing housing data to key partnerships and learnings from outside the sector.
To deliver better service than ever before.
Some of the highlights included Helen underscoring the importance of better data for decision making. She explained that today NHG tenants have greater expectations of a personalised service - owing to the frictionless transactions and customer service as seen in other industries.
“Our housing officers do annual visits with tenants and when you combine the verbatim from tenants and the data in a platform like Plentific, it becomes really powerful. It’s letting us become more proactive, rather than reactive, and it’s really aiding our decision making.”
Emma offered her thoughts on tenant welfare, explaining that there is a greater focus around offering financial support to tenants who require it - as a way to establish independence for them and empower further growth in their lives. She also elaborated that Peabody is focused on repurposing community spaces to address common tenant pain points - such as better childcare for those who work or are actively interviewing for new roles.
Alex was instrumental in showcasing the value of up-skilling in local communities. He explained that, at Beam, he’s addressing the concern that emerging technologies bring. Technology will alter the jobs of the future considerably. His work at Beam is not only providing better opportunities to the homeless and disadvantaged, but also providing them with the training they need to address the existing skill shortage in the roles of tomorrow.
When you combine the verbatim from tenants and the data in a platform like Plentific, it becomes really powerful. It’s letting us become more proactive, rather than reactive, and it’s really aiding our decision making.” Helen McGregor, Director of Asset Management at Notting Hill Genesis
Helen from NHG used Alex’s point on emerging technologies to explain the initial overwhelming feeling a housing team can experience when adopting new technology.
She stated that when NHG first altered its operations model to use Plentific, the move felt like a leap of faith - using tech to change the perception of how repairs can be delivered to tenants, (historically slow, lacking in transparency, prone to repeat visits). Before she knew it, the platform’s fast, frictionless approach to service delivery resulted in ecstatic tenants. The feedback was almost instantaneous, with tenants saying that repairs typically done in 2 weeks were wrapped up in just 20 minutes. “It’s initiatives like these that are restoring tenants’ faith in social housing providers”, she continued.
And to build prosperous communities.
Cem added his thoughts on the importance of transparency in such a process - keeping tenants informed and giving them visibility of their maintenance work throughout is both empowering and necessary in this day and age, he stated.
When it comes to Plentific’s platform, he continued, the goal is that every tenant gets exceptional service, more accountability and transparency. Housing teams get operational superpowers - their admin and day-to-day becoming automated so they can spend more time with tenants. At the heart of the platform, he explained, is access to rich housing data for better reporting and decision making. Cem concluded the session, thanking everyone for their time and insights.
Plentific’s Breakfast Briefings bring the most pressing conversations from housing to the forefront, gathering leaders and changemakers in an effort to solve salient issues and realise a better future for housing - and the communities it builds. Stay tuned for the next one.