Key take-aways from our housing roundtable
Hitachi Solutions and Cadence Innova were pleased to host several high-profile Housing Associations and Local Authorities, discussing the challenges faced in the UK providing housing services. Tim Kidd takes a closer look at what was discussed.
Hitachi Solutions and Cadence Innova were pleased to host several high-profile Housing Associations and Local Authorities, discussing the challenges faced in the UK providing housing services that meet an ever-changing regulatory landscape and customer needs.
As lockdown continues to challenge the standard operating practice of being on-site and physically located at properties, the attendees shared their approach to adapting their business models.
Understanding residents needs and communicating effectively with them, were high on the list of priorities with these factors driving the resourcing needs, as organisations planned to get their teams back out into the community and prepare for the move towards consumer regulation.
This was particularly true of ensuring statutory requirements around fire and gas safety were carried out, alongside routine maintenance. Participants highlighted that there has been a significant rise in the number of residents reluctant or refusing to have people in their homes to undertake these works. The challenge for organisations is making sure that they do not fall behind on statutory activities, inspections, or their asset maintenance schedules, whilst being mindful of their residents’ concerns about safety at the current time.
With more people working at home, residents’ needs have certainly shifted during the pandemic. This has resulted in increased energy consumption in the home, alongside a desire from both residents and organisations to move to a greener energy supply. For many of the organisations present, this has seen the Power Agenda finding its way to the top of the risk register, as we commit to green energy across the UK.
Keeping on top of changing dynamics, between organisations and their residents, is an essential part of managing these ‘new’ risks. Many of these problems identified rely on technology and data to provide the insights and information required to support business decisions, with the sharing of information across organisational teams essential. As housing teams digitalise, the roundtable attendees felt that bringing their staff on the journey was a high priority, including their residents.
As we see the country opening again, the group shared their experience of getting their people back to the office (or equivalent) with discussions highlighting that a more flexible and staggered approach had proved the most successful. One reason being some individuals had more of an imperative to get back to the office, often due to their own housing situation and working conditions.
So, what might the future hold? There was a real sense of balance between using data insights, digital and technology solutions and ensuring insights from residents’ feedback was actively sought after and used. Resident engagement was raised as a critical factor in defining what is next for residents, through a continued and deeper understanding of their needs. Equally important was finding the best way to deliver services. With participants seeking to take advantage of the ‘Internet of Things to enable remote monitoring where possible, including:
- Fire safety detectors that automatically trigger when not working.
- Water meters that raise the alarm if no water has been used for 24 hours.
- Innovations that could help support their vulnerable residents.
- Broadband for whole blocks rather than connectivity in individual homes.
- Digital services for booking repairs and maintenance.
These changes are not seen as future-gazing ambitions, instead, they are real solutions that the attendees are exploring now, to ensure that they continue to support their residents, their communities, and their businesses. The pandemic has propelled people and organisations forward quicker than ever before, and it was the group’s sentiment that the accelerated approach of digitising and transformation is maintained.
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