Ahoy there! Vertical village onboarding

Dr Janette Corcoran

Resident move-ins are opportunities to create lasting impact, but all too often are more list-checking than engaging experiences.

Many may be familiar with the saying, “start the way you mean to finish”. And this sentiment is a good guide for how we greet and treat newcomers to our vertical villages. This is especially important for those new to high-rise living (e.g., downsizers) or those new to high-rise living Melbourne-style.

Unsurprisingly, many vertical villages are well aware of this and have established induction processes designed to set the scene and share “how things are done here”.

Typically, these inductions take the form of:

  • Finalising paperwork (e.g., registering cars and cats)
  • Activating access keys and logins (such as the building’s communication system)
  • Training on equipment (e.g., food dehydrators).

Some buildings complement this process with a tailored “Welcome Pack” which may outline specific building features, list active clubs and identify local food and amenities (i.e., the nearest good café).

At its heart, this type of induction primarily aims to integrate new residents into the way a building operates. Newbies are introduced to “the rules” and given guidelines around how they are expected to behave.

There are, however, a few vertical villages which go further.

In addition to the initial “move-in day” session, an ongoing component is added which has the aim of directly engaging the resident – drawing them in!   

The term sometimes applied to this approach is borrowed from the business world and is referred to as “onboarding”. This process is about ensuring residents feel more part of your vertical village and includes a specific focus upon making connections.

For example, an induction approach simply lists the clubs operating in your building, while an onboarding approach will have a club member directly connect with the newcomer.

Another feature of an onboarding approach is that it starts before a new resident moves into your vertical village. For example, before moving day, some vertical villages send a welcome letter with a coffee voucher (i.e., local loyalty program), coupled with an invitation to meet up for the coffee. There are also cases where newcomers are personally greeted by a nominated committee or resident representative – but this could become a full-time job in our high-density buildings!

What is key to an onboarding approach is that it predicated upon an understanding of the “resident experience” and requires mapping of this process to identify when and where it is best to have touch points. Vertical villages need to be very clear about their aims of undertaking onboarding as it requires additional time and effort. Consider for instance, do you want to foster a “home” ambiance where residents know each other by name? Keep in mind that your residents might value privacy more!

Realistically, for our vertical villages, we will likely aspire to a blend of induction and onboarding as the lion’s share of these activities will likely fall to building management.

What can be of value, however, is for the committee to purposefully review the move-in process from the perspective of a new resident. This could start by discussing the move-in experience of recent arrivals – or you could even go further and shadow the next move-in (just don’t be creepy!).

And in terms of food for thought, there is also “offboarding” to consider. This is when residents leave your vertical village – and in addition to taking back keys and switching off access, this could provide a very rich source of information about how your vertical village really operates! •

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