People have always wanted the ability to choose between interacting directly with service staff versus when they help themselves. The pandemic has drastically impacted the prevalence of this choice in the multifamily world through the introduction of contactless everything—payments, deliveries, pickup, etc. While the general public may have a more positive outlook for the months ahead with the ongoing vaccine rollout, the past year has significantly influenced consumer preferences and expectations when it comes to the contactless experience.

In this competitive multifamily market, it’s particularly important for multifamily properties to provide residents the ability to choose in order to make their experience feel like the home and community that they want to live in. Fortunately for this industry, with the evolution of today’s technology options, there is an array of solutions to support the transition to contactless offerings.

Online Tools

Whether self-service centers, interactive FAQs, or rent portals, these are fast becoming customer service basics in the world of multifamily. Not only do these types of tools limit direct interaction and decrease the burden on property staff, but they serve residents in the way they prefer.

In fact, according to Xfinity’s State of Smart Technology in the Multifamily Housing Industry report, online rent payments ranked third in the listing of amenities that bring residents the most joy, behind only high-speed internet and fast, reliable Wi-Fi.

Smart Technology

For some residents, smart technology is one of the top considerations that factor into their decision on where to move. The benefits for residents are simple: They’re able to control key functions of their units, including lights and climate control, from anywhere without worrying about physical switches, thermostats, or touchpads.

Not only do these tools limit physical contact for residents, but they limit the need for staff to move around the property and manually check lights, heating, and locks in unoccupied units. With the ability to manage key functions via a single app, they can take care of basic, time-consuming functions from the leasing office and focus on activities that add more value to property owners' and operators’ investments, as well as the resident experience.

Additional insights from Xfinity's survey highlight that approximately 4 in 5 respondents said that adopting smart technology is important for attracting new residents. Home automation will only continue to grow in popularity and become more widespread as more residents demand its features.

Pre-Installed or Managed Connectivity

Connectivity lies behind all of these options, and connectivity providers today offer options to make their offerings touchless. Pre-installed in-unit connectivity equipment was originally intended to provide residents immediate connectivity upon move-in. It’s clear today, however, that there’s also real value in the ability to sign up for a plan online and turn on the box without involving a delivery driver dropping off equipment or the help of an in-home service tech.

Alternatively, increasingly popular managed connectivity options make the process even simpler as access points installed throughout a property provide residents consistent online access anywhere on the premises. With a simple log-in provided on move-in day, there’s no sign-up required whatsoever—it’s reliable, high-speed internet access that just works.

Shift in the Market

The increase in demand and implementation of contactless tools symbolizes a shift in the market for the next generation of technology amenities. While just a few years ago, entertainment, high-speed internet, and Wi-Fi dominated the top features residents looked for, we’re starting to see a new wave come in as the multifamily industry responds to changes in consumer preferences and behavior.

Now touchless amenities are some of the most highly valued in multifamily today, and connectivity is the backbone of those capabilities. Whether due to external circumstances or resident demand, providing an experience that is capable of delivering on those promises will be key in the coming years.