How to tackle the main accommodation complaints from students

The fastest growing property sector at this moment is the Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), attracting investors from all over the globe. Students expect and require a secure, technology-driven and high in quality accommodation that will be their home away from home. A place where they can accelerate and eventually send out to the real world to start their careers.

To welcome these young adults in such an inspiring setting is a job that needs to be taken seriously. Therefore we did some research on often overlooked criticism. Avoiding these complaints will result in happier students, therefore long term tenants and a great ‘customer’ (student) experience.

Offer your students a high quality coliving environment by bypassing these easy to overcome concerns and your PBSA becomes a problem solver instead of a burden.

Noise

In order to live pleasantly, let alone study, without any disturbance you can’t have any type of (loud) noise on your premises. Whether it’s loud music, fire alarms, or shouting: Enabling sufficient room to focus should be the main goal of your PBSA. A lot of this agony that drive students up their walls is easily to overcome with a few simple adjustments like setting up a noise curfew for weekdays or making sure ovens in all apartments have timers installed.

Residential staff

One of the most important aspects of the student experience is the quality of your staff. The people that represent your accommodation need to be adequate, fast in response and above all, polite. To safeguard your student’s contentment, requests and issues need to be taken very seriously. Rude or poorly trained staff is a big annoyance for anyone entering your PBSA, not only the students. Be sure to have a clear vision on how you want your staff to behave and be clear the staff knows they are a big part of that amazing student experience you are hoping to establish.

Deposits

Students usually don’t have a lot to spend. Deposits that get refunded long after the 14-day range (which is usually the absolute maximum for students) is one of the main complaints students (and their parents) have on their accommodations. When PBSAs hit students where it hurts the most, these Millenials do what feels natural: Ventilate their inconvenience on social media. Avoid a bad (online) reputation by being clear on what to expect in terms of finance. Be transparent about timeframes, what deposits can be made and how students should approach this flow and you shouldn’t encounter any misunderstanding.

Facilities

PBSAs are built to provide convenience so students should never have to leave. Whether in regard to their social life or to study. A so-called ‘place beyond the bedroom’. This is the reason a lot of PBSA’s are equipped with facilities like a cafe, pool- and football tables, services, and completely renovated apartments including bathrooms and kitchens which enables the students to form a community where they can focus on their studies. Facilities like washing machines become a big burden when there aren’t enough. Collecting the laundry, walking down to the laundry room to find out all washing machines are already taken, walk back to do the same thing over again a few hours later is a big waste of time. Make sure these kinds of facilities that could provide Zen instead of stress are being taken care of.

The number one that should be in order without a doubt still remains a solid phone and internet connectivity.

Read what’s trending in student housing in our previous blog post, or Contact us to integrate SALTO KS into your preferred management tool.

SALTO KS provides a flexible access control management system that requires no software installation or the added expense of a fully wired electronic product. Modern cloud-based, wireless access control system is easy and simple to use for businesses including Coworking Spaces, Coliving Buildings, Purpose Built Student Accommodation, Retail, Multi-Tenant Housing, Gyms and many more. Our best in class wireless access control solution and smart locks guarantee efficiency for your business. Integrate smart locks, start easily managing access now!

These trends are redefining the way we work

For a long time it seemed as if employees were expected to thrive on no other then awful coffee, bad lighting and soggy cheese sandwiches, but times have changed for the better. Office spaces are now the number one tool to attract and retain top talent.

Adopt these trends that have redefined the way we work in 2018 to facilitate the perfect work environment for your members and employees.

Competition

Now more then ever workspaces are being used as part of recruitment strategies. Those who are born between 1980 and 2000 are a tough generation to retain as loyal employees. Attracting and retaining this generation called ‘Millennials’ as a company all comes down to creating an experience rather than just an office to work in.

Meeting new people, a vibrant atmosphere and room for creativity are highly appreciated by this younger generation.

The competition between companies to captivate this age group has peeked tremendously past year, taking into account these relatively young people are fast to leave when a ‘better’ opportunity arises

The term ‘googlization’ is therefor mockingly used by the baby boomers: The generation that came before Millenials took over the workforce. Babyboomers tend to assume Millenials are not in touch with the reality of what companies are actually able to offer them, and in some cases they are right.

There’s a fine balance between a playground as an office and depressing grey cubicles underneath TL lighting. For the baby boomers that are used to the old school 9 to 5 ‘work hard, and then work some more’ work ethics it can be a turn off to work at a company designed for millennials which tend to be noisy and chaotic: Where the young people thrive the old won't survive.

To get a head start over competition and retain both your Millenial and Babyboom members and employees, make sure all your lines of communication are open and focus on lasting trends like health instead of purchasing another ball pit. Take into account that if the workplace isn’t right people tend to go elsewhere instead of stating their concerns. Support wellbeing and healthy lifestyles with benefits like fitness centre memberships, childcare centres and a special place to pick up parcels so you are ahead of the game.

Technology

Applications used to increase productivity are becoming more popular by the minute. With technology like video calls, online synced calendar planning, and even integrating with a cloud-based access control product like SALTO KS to book (meeting) rooms in advance, meetings can be organized in an agile way: Reducing a lot of frustration.

Another upcoming trend is using sensors to measure capacity and productivity to personalize the space to the needs of the employees. Together with two yearly surveys that will be sent automatically to the workers, you may end up with room dividers in your open space plan to increase focus.

Using technology to automate your space means more flexibility and personalization, which will be highly appreciated among any group of people.

Environmentally friendly

The trend that goes a long way: Running an environment-friendly space. To control costs but also to attract and retain employees that want to be associated with an environment-friendly office and, of course, to give back to mother earth. By choosing an HQ close to most employee’s homes so people don't have to drive to work will take your environmental friendly reputation to the next level.

Adopt technology to help you run a fully environmental friendly space:

  • Use sensors to turn off lights or heating when spaces are not being used
  • Reduce your carbon footprint by making more use of videoconferences like Google hangouts so employees don't have to air travel
  • Internal communication must be electronic. No excuse
  • Schedule meeting rooms by integrating your management tool with SALTO KS
  • There’s a growing and valid pressure from society to make workplaces more environment-friendly, be sure to follow this trend to collect extra karma points.

    Health

    All of the above contributes to the health of your employees. Embracing companies that will help you collect hard- and soft data from your space like happiness, health and many more details you can use to turn your office space into the best possible version of itself. Monitor your employee’s behaviour and habits. With this workplace analytics, you can adjust your office space accordingly. Some employees might feel the need to take a stroll in the office garden every hour or need a noise-cancelling headphone. Enable a work environment where people feel encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle and increase productivity and a positive atmosphere!

    Variety

    Embracing flexible workspace is a big trend that keeps evolving. Spaces, where collaboration is encouraged but also have room for deep focus, are high in demand. Choosing a corporate setting with break out spaces for collaboration or rooms for formal meetings are popular. Depending on your preferred kind of appearance the design of your space can be adjusted accordingly. A trendy open space designed tech office will attract millennials for example. If you are looking for more corporate audience go for the corporate setting. Always be aware of the need for flexibility among your employees. Even though the company is corporate some people will like the thought of working with flex desks. Offer variety, no person is the same: Each skillset deserves to have the proper environment to flourish!

    The workplace is changing rapidly. It’s not just about the building it’s about enabling an experience where collaboration and creativity have room to expand.

    Want to read more on creating a healthy work environment? Take a look at our previous blog post!

    Top 5 trends in student housing

    Student housing has changed a lot in the past few years. We are looking at a future where student’s requirements will continue to change at a rapid pace, as the technology behind Purpose Built Student Accommodation is getting smarter every year.

    We present you the top 5 trends in student housing to focus on in 2019 while working on the best housing experience for your students.

    Technology

    A high-quality student housing experience in 2019 includes smart technology. All students now days not only need to use their smartphones, tablets and laptops to socialize but more importantly: To study. Students need access to their online portals where they can find study specific assignments, grades and schedules. Therefore housing accommodations should be designed with efficient technology in mind. Free and fast Wi-Fi (25 MB per student per second at the lowest), automated Laundromats and keyless entries are just a glimpse of what a PBSA should offer nowadays. From a student’s perspective, all spaces in a student housing accommodation whether it’s a shared space or a private dorm room should be smart. An access control solution like SALTO KS can help to make your accommodation as efficient and smooth as possible by providing the utmost convenience and security to your students.

    Going green

    Students of today and tomorrow are most likely raised with sustainability in mind. Therefore a student housing accommodation that proves to be environmentally responsible is always ahead of the game. Sustainable certifications are not dull anymore; they have become an important selling point for all housing accommodations that want to be taken seriously. Student residences that promote well being and raise awareness are more likely to get picked by students and/or concerned parents. To create a sustainable student accommodation, LED lighting, green roofs and sustainable (interior) design is a good way to start out.

    Privacy

    A big ‘trend’ is of course privacy, and it has been for a while. Although more PBSA's are getting rid of gender-specific dorm communities, we are happy to inform you the classical dorm room where you share a room with five other students is no longer. More and more student accommodations are equipped with a suite layout that hosts’ two students that share one bathroom instead of the communal bathroom down the hall. Because younger students seem to care less about privacy then older graduates it is easier to divide the students amongst different types of rooms, fulfilling accommodation needs for every type of student.

    Assistants

    Moving from the parental home into a purpose-built accommodation can be a bit overwhelming. For the students, but also for their parents. To know the students are in good hands with the residential assistants that are available on- and off campus gives both parties peace of mind. Make sure you have student paraprofessionals on your premises that are welcoming and easy to talk to. One of the biggest put off is when campus staff is rude, unwelcoming and slow to react. Agile procedures that deal with requests and issues are a pro when choosing an accommodation to live in while going off to college. Make sure you have an annual review with your on- and off campus staff to be sure of student satisfaction.

    Housing

    Last but certainly not least: Housing. All of the above trends are of the utmost importance for a purpose-built student housing accommodation, but only if the core of the accommodation has just the right environment balance between learning and living. An accommodation that is in line with the campus identity enabling students to socialize, feel at home and focused studying is setting itself up for success. Make sure your utility bills are included in the rent, which is important for students who cant permit themselves getting unforeseen extra bills.

    Enable a high-quality housing experience for your students by equipping your Purpose Built Student Accommodation with the latest cloud-based access control technology.

    Contact us, we are happy to provide you with the information you need to take your accommodation to the next level.

    These basics will create a healthy environment for your coworking members

    Consuming too much time in an unhealthy environment can cause multiple scary side effects like nausea, headaches or stress. Fortunately more and more coworking spaces come to see the benefits of creating a healthy environment for their visitors to thrive in. By becoming human-centred, these spaces promote productivity and well-being.

    A healthy work environment is one of the most valued benefits of a coworking space. It enables high levels of productivity, a raised engagement with the coworking community and overall it contributes to a great atmosphere if everybody is feeling their best self.

    We want to share some important insights on how to help your space become healthful by enabling a feeling of well-being.

    People who are travelling for work or have the ability to work remote are the lucky ones that are spending most of their time in a coworking space. These people usually are not taking proper care of themselves in terms of a healthy work/life balance. Digital nomads usually work around the clock in order to make the magic happen, and need a space that will keep them focused and healthy. The spaces that succeed are the ones that become the first choice when it comes to coworking.

    Healthy greens

    The benefits of working in a space filled with daylight and plants are not to be underestimated. Choose plants that purify the air: Members who are suffering from asthma can for example benefit tremendously by this relatively small adjustment. Plants also contribute to a happy color pallet with their variation of greens and contribute to noise reduction.

    Working spots

    Take into account a lot of flexible professionals are choosing to work from your coworking space because their home desk might not be that ergonomic friendly. Make sure that at least the biggest part of your space if filled with options that will maintain a healthy posture. Other members might have escaped from their corporate jobs to avoid the 9 to 5 culture and are looking for a more playful space to work in. Try to arrange your space with a 60/40 ratio: 60% ergonomic friendly and 40% playful to keep all members healthy but inspired.

    Keep moving

    Sitting down or standing up, either way it’s always a healthy idea to get the blood pumping and move around. If you happen to own a coworking space near the beach or in nature, it is the perfect opportunity to offer your flexible professionals bike and/or surfboard rental for a healthy break to de-stress. If not, you can offer ‘Bike desks’ so your members can paddle their way to that deadline while working on their fitness.

    Wellness programs

    If your space allows it, offering a yoga class before or after working hours is a real dealmaker. If your space won’t allow an in-house yoga class there are a lot of other things you can do to make your members fall in love with your space. Think about hiring a masseuse every other Friday that will loosen up the shoulders of your flexible professionals. Or offer a meditation class on Monday morning to start the week with a fresh and open mind. These breaks will pay back for themselves. They are necessary to prevent stress and burnouts.

    Fuel your members

    When working hard food isn’t necessarily on top of mind. It’s easy to grab the first snack that you see when you are on a tight deadline. This is where you come in. Make sure your space is filled with healthy food options like fruits and veggies that are easy to take on the go. Provide enough water taps where members can fill their environment-friendly water bottles. After all, a healthy mind lives in a healthy body.

    A happy community is a healthy community

    Last but certainly not least: Strive to build a community of flexible professionals that are eager to help each other out. You can enable this by organizing a collective walk in the park in the afternoons. Your members will rediscover that healthy and necessary connection with nature again. Creating a spot in the space where people can jot down their tips to overcome stress, other helpful tips, inspiring messages or a good joke can also be a fun way to enforce a healthy member community. After a while, your members will lift each other up and inspire to do their best work, including you!

    There are several coworking spaces around the world that already are picking up on the trend of member well being. Check out this article to find out where on the globe these spaces are contributing to a healthier work/life balance.

    Contact us and find out how you can eliminate the stress that is access control management by installing SALTO KS: The smart way to control access to your space.

    Meet Javier Roquero, Managing Director at SALTO Systems

    Last year we interviewed Marc Handels, co-founder & CMO at Salto Systems and shared with you his vision of a great team and the future of access control. This time with our new KS blog we are happy to announce our interview with Javier Roquero, co-founder & CEO at Salto Systems. In this interview, Javier explains how he maintains that highly important work-life balance, what he would do if he could pick any other job and tells us more about his vision for the future of the cloud.

    How did you find yourself working in the access control business?

    Since I was a child, I always wanted to work in this sector… I am kidding, of course: In the 90’s I started working for a company in the mechanical door hardware business. Together with a group of friends/colleagues, we came across this great opportunity to create SALTO Systems. To be able to set up a brand new company with strong components of innovation, industrial processes and marketing challenges was the green field approach what attracted me. It was very clear from the beginning this was a once in a lifetime opportunity I had to grab onto.

    "Solid personal values and the consistency to defend them is the most important skill to own" - Javier Roquero

    In what way did SALTO Systems change your life?

    I am afraid I have to say (even if it doesn't sound too sexy) SALTO didn't change my life: Before SALTO I was a happy man enjoying life, which I still am, now more than ever. I am proud of what we have achieved, but I have very clear priorities: The correct balance between my personal life and my professional achievement is what drives those priorities.

    How do you see SALTO grow in the next couple of years, and where do you see cloud products fit in that growth?

    Well, the answer is clear if you see the investments we are making in our factory: More than 8 million euros are being used to extend the factory capacity in order to be ready for the expected growth we are anticipating in all world regions and market segments. Cloud is a top priority for us. Back in 2012 we already partnered with Rick and Xander, the founders of Clay. This was even before everyone was talking about cloud. In the future, I foresee top leading software companies that are placing cloud executives in top management positions to lead the transition.

    If you weren’t being busy building your company, what would you be doing?

    Let me think and dream a little...running a hotel perhaps. A small boutique hotel somewhere, with a close contact with clients offering them to experience something different from the pure lodging one. I enjoy meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. This is why I find managing 28 different nationalities at SALTO so exciting!

    What kind of activities do you enjoy in your free time to unwind?

    I have so many! Basically, anything sports related. I used to run a lot, but now I am more on cycling and trekking. But probably ski mountaineering is my favorite. If it’s outdoors and in nature, you can find me there.

    What is one of the best skills to master in your professional life?

    To have solid personal values and the consistency to defend them: Our customers relate to the core values of our company and recognize those in our employees.

    What future company plans are you looking forward to the most?

    Retirement! I am kidding again! I would have to say taking SALTO to the next level. Nobody knows exactly where electronic locking is headed. Being a part of discovering that journey is amazing.

    We want to thank Javier for his insights on the cloud, the locking industry and entrepreneurship!

    In 2017 SALTO completed the acquisition of Clay. With this important step, SALTO Systems executes on its strategy by strengthening its leading position in both cloud technology and mobile access control.

    Want to know the the story of Clay? Hear it from Rick. More SALTO? Read the interview we had with Marc Handels, Chief Sales Officer at SALTO Systems here.

    Want to work with inspirational leaders everyday? Check out our job openings!

    Behind the scenes on how we structure our work for KS

    Structuring work while collaborating with different teams in a large company is important. In this blog post, we want to share insights on how we actually work, the Scrum framework, and how we deliver a product we’re proud of.

    Read on to find out more from our Product Owner Medi about the way we implemented the Scrum framework, the corresponding meetings and how the development team manages to maintain its momentum:

    What is a ‘Sprint’?

    In order to get the development team aligned we work with the Scrum framework. This is an Agile framework enabling the development team to accomplish projects within a two-week cycle called a ‘Sprint’. The teams are self-managing which means there’s no hierarchy within the teams and they decide individually how they work. Together the teams work on a project in which they have equal responsibilities and saying. The Product Owner gets to prioritize the projects (‘Stories’) in the backlog and decides which story is next in line to work on. The Scrum master is the buffer between the team and the Product Owner and makes sure all team members can do their work in an Agile way.

    Who is leading the Sprint?

    The PO determines which stories make it to the backlog and in which timeframe they should be accomplished. The content is determined together with the different teams (Mobile, Front-end, Back-end, Mobile, QA and design). When an emergency occurs, for example when another story needs priority over the current one, the Scrum master determines whether to deviate from the planning. Together with the teams, the Scrum master decides which technologies are used to achieve the stories.

    What is the reason behind the Sprint being a two-week cycle?

    We initially started with a three-week cycle so we could comprehend unforeseen circumstances, but it turned out two weeks has a more compact scope in case of unexpected situations that force us to prioritize another story. If we would shorten the Sprint to a week the planning would be a mess: With a one-hour meeting per team, a weekly retrospective meeting and Sprint review meeting once a week, Sprint would be very inefficient and nearly impossible. A two-week Sprint works best for our team at this moment.

    How do you decide on prioritizing stories?

    During the Sprint planning meeting, we define a goal for the upcoming Sprint. The technical functionalities outwait the commercial belongings almost always. At the end of the day, our main concern is to deliver a high-quality product.

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    In what way is the upcoming Sprint announced to the team?

    We do not announce the upcoming Sprints. During the Sprint planning meeting, the Sprint is defined. The Sprints are named after the week numbers so we can easily track what happened at that time. We are however very transparent in terms of sharing the product roadmap. Because we are with a relatively small team with a lot of different disciplines and just one PO it’s not necessary to announce a Sprint in the traditional way.

    What happens if a story is bigger than two weeks can comprehend?

    That is the beauty of Scrum: It’s such a flexible framework. We define how long a story takes by determining story points. If a story can’t find a passing because we underestimated the amount of work we prioritize which story is up next. The Sprint enables us to stay as close on the story as can be. The retrospective at the end of the two weeks gives us a chance to gain insightful feedback on the process: What made us lose momentum and why? Could we’ve done something to prevent this?

    To plan and maintain the Sprint there are some necessary meetings that need to be executed:

    Daily Scrum:

    Or as we like to call it the ’stand-up' is a meeting of maximum 15 minutes with the development- and Q A team to briefly go through the tasks of the day per person so we are all in sync of what we are working on. Fun fact: The stand-up can’t be executed sitting down to ensure the meeting will be as short and efficient as possible.

    Sprint Retrospective:

    A frequently hosted Agile retrospective meeting will turn a group of individuals into an effective team. After the Sprint Review, we discuss how the two-week sprint process went during the Sprint retrospective: How can we make the previous two-week process more efficient or improve our work? How are we planning to do this?

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    Backlog, Prospects and Sprint Status:

    The Scrum master, product owner and most important stakeholders discuss the status of the stories in the backlog. What is the status of the stories and how do we prioritize them are the main bullet points of this meeting.

    Our Product Owner Medi is in charge of the Sprints backlog: All the projects that need to be accomplished in order of priority. In the planning meetings, the product owner defines the planning of the sprint together with the back-end, front-end, embedded, QA and mobile teams.

    Thank you Medi, for explaining how the KS development team structures their work to deliver a product they are proud of.

    Keep an eye on our company blog for more interesting observations on the way we work and the latest company news.