As a responsible business that has chosen to put ethics at the forefront of our decision-making process, it continues to be important to us that we act cautiously and carefully.

Lockdown 2: Business as Usual

From our Chief Executive, Peter Brown

As we all find our way through a second lockdown, understanding what it means for us personally as well as professionally, here are some of my reflections about what we’ve learned as a business and how we are continuing to respond. 

As a responsible business that has chosen to put ethics at the forefront of our decision-making process, it continues to be important to us that we act cautiously and carefully. Unsurprisingly, we want to ensure that our legal and regulatory obligations continue to be met – particularly those obligations that ensure buildings where we work are safe places to live.

Back in March, the first thing we did was make sure that our operations were safe – for our team as well as for our guardians and others we encounter in the course of our work. We are ever conscious that our team has the potential to visit hundreds of buildings every month through our inspections and property visits. We are also very clear and careful to remember that these buildings are also our guardians’ homes. So thinking in a cautious and responsible manner continued to be our approach throughout the summer as the situation adjusted, and continues to guide us now as we enter new phases of the virus and the efforts to control it.

The spring and summer saw us innovating with virtual and online viewings of properties that we had available. The feedback on these has been really positive, and we expect these to become a permanent part of our processes for showing new properties. We experimented with different ways of inspecting properties too, by categorising properties so that we could target our resources into health and safety inspections as well as staying in touch with guardians including by phone and email. Some of these changes are likely to stay in the future too as they have helped us to manage things more effectively.

Through the summer we have heard encouraging stories of guardians supporting one another, particularly in our larger shared buildings and areas where we have dozens of guardians in one estate or local area. We heard of meals being cooked on rotas, practical support from fellow guardians for anyone who needed to isolate and WhatsApp groups amongst guardians to support each other through what was a confusing and sometimes difficult time. There was a real sense that sharing housing and building communities with like-minded people came into its own when times became trickier. Guardians did a brilliant job in pivoting their volunteering to community support and practical Covid-related support.

After a few months of understandable disruption to volunteering in April and May, the volunteering figures tracked by Dot Dot Dot quickly increased back to levels that we saw before the pandemic began. Dot Dot Dot has always selected its guardians for their qualities (good neighbours, responsible occupants) and their values (caring about where they live and those they live alongside – whether other guardians or local neighbours) and my reflection is that this became even more powerful when viewed through the lens of the challenges that the pandemic brought.

We have seen demand from people interested in our housing fluctuate, especially in line with the lockdowns when it has noticeably reduced. But it has recovered and we don’t see the need for good value housing that is well managed reducing. By September and October, we saw the largest number of new guardians in 2020 moving into buildings and rooms managed by Dot Dot Dot.

Our clients and property owners have started to think anew about their development and building plans, and how Dot Dot Dot property guardians might support their projects and communities. We are working hard on new projects in new buildings which means we can create new communities of Dot Dot Dot guardians, bringing life and energy to buildings that would otherwise lie empty and opening up good value housing for those who need it.

Find out more about what we’ve been up to throughout 2020, our commitment to supporting the volunteering efforts of our guardians and our dedication to raising standards in our industry here.