Worth the Climb Converting Your Property to Smoke Free: One Company's Perspective

By Corthell, Mary | Journal of Property Management, March-April 2016 | Go to article overview

Worth the Climb Converting Your Property to Smoke Free: One Company's Perspective


Corthell, Mary, Journal of Property Management


WHEN BEACON COMMUNITIES DECIDED TO CONVERT IT'S ENTIRE MANAGEMENT PORTFOLIO OF MORE THAN 70 PROPERTIES INTO SMOKE-FREE COMMUNITIES, THE GOAL WAS SIMILAR TO SETTING OUT TO CLIMB MOUNT EVEREST BUT BEACON WAS ABLE TO BREAK UP THE INITIATIVE INTO SMALLER STEPS, SIMILAR TO REACHING A SERIES OF BASE CAMPS ON THE ASCENT, AND ACCLIMATING ON THE WAY. HOW DID THEY DO IT? READ ON.

Beacon Communities is a Boston-based real estate development and management company that owns and manages approximately 11,000+ apartments in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states. In August 2015, Beacon implemented a smoke-free policy across its portfolio, which was initially conceived during the company's 2013 annual meeting. Shortly thereafter, a cross-functional committee was formed to investigate and recommend a course of action. The committee consisted of property managers, regional vice presidents, maintenance supervisors, resident service coordinators, human resources and members of Beacon's executive team. In March 2014, the committee made a recommendation to the Board of Beacon Communities in favor of implementing a smoke-free policy. The decision to go smoke-free is in keeping with Beacon's branding, Living Well By Design. "Creating policies that support and encourage a healthy working and living environment seemed to us to be the right thing to do for our residents and employees," said Pam Goodman, CEO of Beacon Communities.

NO SMOKING, NO EXCEPTIONS

Beacon intentionally decided that the smoke-free policy would have no exceptions. This means smoking is not permitted anywhere on a Beacon property, so there are no designated smoking areas. The policy applies to residents, visitors who come to the property, employees, vendors and contractors. The fact that the policy is all-encompassing and applies to everyone has been favorably received by a significant percentage of the residents living at Beacon properties.

BASE CAMP 1: PROVIDING NOTICE OF CHANGES TO POLICY

Prior to the implementation of the smoke-free policy, Beacon provided residents and employees a 15-month notice. Beacon used this time to obtain resident input on the policy, hold resident meetings to discuss the initiative, provide change management training to Beacon team members, update collaterals and websites, and prepare the required Lease Addendums and House Rules. Providing ample notice has been a key factor in Beacon's successful implementation of this initiative. In addition, starting in July 2014, Beacon used its monthly newsletter, circulated to all 11,000+ apartments, to focus on various positive aspects of smoke-free living. …

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