Virtual Conferencing | Standards of Conduct for Online Community Association Meetings
Last week we discussed the potential of hosting virtual meetings in place of the more traditional in-person board meetings that tend to be the standard. COVID-19 has ensured that we are all thinking about the potential of virtual meetings and how we can continue to provide the best services to our homeowners and community. This opportunity, while welcomed by many, has brought about an unprecedented need for Board Members and Community Manager’s to better manage their Board Meetings.
We have seen owners are frustrated and stressed at what has happened to their lives over the last few months, including amenities being closed, or some who feel that not enough was done to protect their neighbors. In addition, the uncertainty and stress of jobs, the economic impact, family and health concerns have added to the level of stress and anxiety around the community.
To help minimize Association issues with virtual meetings and to help to become more effective at these non-traditional style of meeting, the Board should consider having a Standards of Conduct for all Association meetings. These standards would be agreed to by the Board of Directors and could be made official by a Board Resolution. The agreed upon Standards would be a part of the official records of the Association and should be posted along with the Meeting Notice and Agenda of the Meeting. Consider having the Standards of Conduct posted on the Community Website. In this manner, no one can say that they did not know of the policy when they joined the meeting.
The following is a list of “suggested” Standards and they can be expanded or reduced, depending on the size of the Association and the complexity of issues at hand:
- All attendees should be “muted” by the meeting organizer to ensure the ability for all to clearly hear the Board.
- Anyone wishing to speak on a subject should “raise their hand” within the virtual meeting system or type in a request into the meeting room chat function.
- No one should be allowed to speak unless they are recognized by the Chairperson of the Meeting and unmuted. (This will reduce the amount of disruptions during a meeting).
- No one is allowed to interrupt anyone who has the floor of the meeting. Interrupting helps to foster a hostile environment and wastes time, which make meetings last longer than is necessary.
- All comments should be made on Agenda Items only. This helps to prevent meetings from getting off topic and a rehash of old items and topics that someone disagrees with.
- Setting time-limits for how long anyone can speak on an agenda item is recommended.
- The Board should not allow someone to speak over others on any issue and should allow each attendee to speak for a set amount of time on any agenda item.
- No foul or threatening language should be allowed to be used in any meeting by anyone.
- If anyone is unwilling to be civil in their dealings at a meeting, then they should be asked to leave, and if it is necessary, the meeting should be adjourned to a later time or date.
Implementing these Standards of Conduct can help an Association to have civil gatherings and more productive meetings. In the long run this will benefit your Association in terms of greater owner participation and involvement, and will ultimately ensure harmony.