Residents at Falls Green in Falls Church, Virginia, could listen to the summer concert series from their balconies.
Courtesy Falls Green Residents at Falls Green in Falls Church, Virginia, could listen to the summer concert series from their balconies.

In light of recent events, most apartment communities were required to completely cancel community programming, throw out traditional resident favors, and rethink resident retention strategies. With forced time spent away from gyms, offices, restaurants, and travel destinations, apartment communities are tasked with meeting an increasing number of resident requests and the need to create a comfortable home.

Multifamily Executive caught up with JoLynn Scotch, managing director of operations at Bozzuto, about Falls Green, a 576-unit apartment community it manages in Falls Church, Virginia. Scotch shares how the team fosters safe multifamily connectivity and comfort amid a pandemic.

MFE: Can you give us an example of an event you had to change due to COVID restrictions?

JoLynn Scotch, managing director of operations at Bozzuto
Skip Brown JoLynn Scotch, managing director of operations at Bozzuto

Scotch: If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught us, it’s how to creatively pivot at a moment’s notice—both on site and online. Since many of the residents at Falls Green have balconies that face the courtyard, we adjusted the summer concert series programming to safely host local musicians in the open-air setting. Residents could tune in, socially distance, and listen from their private balconies. We also broadcasted the concerts over Zoom for residents who preferred to enjoy the show from the comfort of their couches.

MFE: Did Falls Green host any virtual events? If so, what was that adaptation like?

Scotch: Yes, Bozzuto hosted a ton of interactive virtual events dubbed Bozzuto at Home so the Falls Green community and numerous other communities we manage could connect with others while remaining safe. We had a fun styling tips seminar, workout and yoga sessions, and professional cooking lessons. Our events were hosted on Zoom and social media, so there were plenty of ways to get involved.

The pandemic demanded swift and thoughtful action, and our site teams were incredible at rising to the challenge. They adapted very quickly to an evolving normal and helped bring engaging and relevant content to residents who have missed our in-person events.

MFE: How do you make residents feel supported during these challenging times?

Scotch: Surprise and delight through digital means has also been a key component for connecting with residents. The Falls Green management team sent Starbucks e-gift cards to each resident with a simple message: “Coffee’s on us this morning!” They also gave each resident a bamboo tree as a “thank you” and it has been such a pleasure to see on social media how everyone has enjoyed planting the trees together and enjoying time in the community. It’s the small but thoughtful touches that let our residents know we’re thinking about them.

MFE: What are some measures that you put in place to implement social distancing in amenity areas?

Scotch: We’ve created dedicated sanitation stations, rearranged furniture to limit the number of users, and created a reservation system to ensure capacities are safely monitored in popular amenity spaces. We’re also seeing a rise in the value that residents put on their private outdoor spaces. They’re creating more livable spaces with vegetable and herb gardens and flower beds.