2020 has been a tumultuous year, and ironically, the one constant for everyone has been change. Small and large businesses alike have had to adapt, adjust, and pivot just to continue doing business. The team at Home Share Alliance is no exception. We've been working diligently behind the scenes to adjust how we do business. Our goal has been to ensure the safety of our clients and staff, while meeting the changing needs of our clients, many of whom who are riding the emotional and financial ebbs and flows of the pandemic. We believe the changes we've made have had a positive impact. Here are five ways that we've pandemic-proofed the business of home sharing:
1. Fewer in-person meetings
Face-to-face meetings have been phased out in many industries. While our team thrives on meeting potential homeowners and housemates in person, we quickly realized that it in many cases it just wasn't safe to do so. However, interviews are a very important part of our screening process, which is why we've adapted by conducting video and phone interviews.
2. New screening questions
We're proud to say that our screening protocols have always been thorough – that's how we make so many successful home sharing matches! When the pandemic hit, we realized that we needed to ask even more questions, which is why in the first stages of our initial screening we ask about a person's:
Thoughts about the pandemic
Personal hygiene and sanitization protocols
Before any in-person meetings we ask the typical health screening questions that you're used to answering by now– things like your recent travel, if you've been exposed to COVID, your current health and if you have experienced any COVID-19 symptoms.
3. Expanded HomeShare Agreements
We've added new sections to our HomeShare Agreement to ensure that homeowners and housemates' expectations are set out and agreed upon in writing. These sections lay out guidelines around pandemic-related issues including:
4. Specialized consultations and support
Home sharing is complex, and the pandemic has put a lot of pressure and stress on individuals and their families. With divided attitudes about personal protocols and keeping others safe, plus recent news of new lockdowns, we've been fielding a lot more questions than usual. To meet this growing demand and help answer your questions, our team has been offering specialized consulting available for home sharers (including home shares outside of our own matches). This support is centered around providing information related to pandemic concerns. Have a question? Give us a call! We have the information you need about homesharing during the pandemic.
5. Paperless Applications
We've now implemented online automation for various stages of our application process. The full application, lifestyle survey, and HomeShare Agreement are all available online, in digital format to reduce the contact involved in exchanging paper, signing documents, and conducting in-person meetings.
For example, householders may choose to do a digital HomeShare Agreement, available through DocuSign. In this case the householder, housemate and HomeShare Alliance staff would conduct a Zoom meeting to go over all the details. This paperless process has been helpful for those who feel uncomfortable meeting in person and still want the personalized approach of having HomeShare Alliance help facilitate the homeshare process.
While it's been a challenging year for everyone, our team included, it's our hope that our changes to our internal processes will help make clients feel safe and secure in their home share arrangement, so that that they can reap the many benefits that home sharing offers.