Every profession has certain headaches – issues that come up again and again, no matter how long you’ve been in the business. In community association management, we call these the four “Ps”: Parking, Pets, People, and Petunias (landscaping). Now, there is a fifth “P” that is causing a world of problems for condo associations. That new “P” is Packages.
Millions of packages delivered every day
With the constriction of brick-and-mortar stores and the explosion of online shopping, condominium buildings receive millions of packages every day throughout the United States. Where a front desk worker used to be concerned with who comes in and an occasional delivery of flowers, now these workers have been transformed to package handlers for Amazon and other online retail platforms.
There is a new workload that is being piled upon community association employees and, as the song says, “The times they are a-changing.” Front desk workers should not be expected to log in a hundred or so packages a day and then distribute them out when the owners decide that they want their merchandise. On top of all that, due to the pandemic, food deliveries are coming into buildings at a much faster rate. You might even call that the sixth “P” for Pizzas. How does a building deal with such an increase in this workload?
Boards need a new (permanent) policy
First, boards of directors now must come to the realization that they need to wake up and understand that there has been a seismic shift in how society purchases and receives consumer products and food. New rules must be made to take the burden off the front desk workers and plans must be made to provide the residents the services they need to live in the 21st century. Restricting deliveries by weight or size and rejecting may NOT be the way to go. Second, this new dynamic requires additional expense and a well thought out policy.
Boards of directors who are reluctant to address this issue with the attitude that they are not responsible for the residential experience need to rethink their positions. I have seen condominium boards of directors craft limitations on the size and weight of packages that can be delivered to the building. This is not right and perhaps not even legal.
If a 75-pound box arrives at a building it should not be the job of the front desk worker to be a “box jockey” and move it around. On the other hand, if a resident orders a 75-pound package to be delivered to their unit, they have the right to receive that package at their residence. How do we strike a balance between workers being assigned tasks they were not hired for and the rights of residents to receive their packages?
How to deal with these package problems?
How can this issue be resolved in an equitable fashion? Here are the challenges:
- There are residents in a building that never order packages to be delivered online. Why should they pay for the added expense of handling these packages?
- All residents have the right to receive packages that are delivered to their building. Having packages rejected by front desk personnel at the orders of the Board of Directors is highly unfair.
- Front desk workers did not sign up to be moving items around the lobby. It is not part of their job description and there is a ton of liability in having them do so. Heavy packages can cause serious injuries.
One solution that may work for your association
Just like most problems, money needs to be spent to resolve these issues. The condominium needs to hire a package handler and a way to have these packages distributed to their destinations. The only equitable solution to this conundrum is for condominium buildings to put a service charge on each package delivery. Either the condominium charges the recipient by weight, size, or number of packages delivered (or a clever formula for spreading these costs equitably) or this problem will become a tremendous point of contention in condominiums.
Hiring additional personnel to manage this burden and sharing the costs among all owners is not fair, as this cost cannot be spread out equitably. Some people order online in a fast and furious manner and some people never do at all. Many condominiums are facing this problem and boards of directors need to not mandate a solution but be very inclusive with the membership regarding the solution.