RALEIGH — While most North Carolina companies are under a remote-working policy for the foreseeable future, some are paving the way with their re-entry strategy.
Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a financial and professional services firm, specializes in commercial real estate services and investment management. It began a phased re-entry process in June for our Raleigh-Durham office.
WRAL TechWire recently had the chance to speak to its Raleigh operations manager, Laura Gallagher, about her experience managing the process. Here’s what she had to say:
- How many people are back in the office currently? What’s the plan for phasing in the rest of the employees?
During the current phase of re-entry, we are accommodating around 50% of employees. For those working remotely who need or want to access our space can do so by coordinating with myself and his or her manager.
- What about parents who have kids in virtual learning right now?
We understand that there are circumstances at home that require flexibility for our professional lives, whether that’s childcare, virtual learning, or elder care. At JLL, re-entry has always been about people-first and we appreciate that employees are doing their best to balance it all. During this time, I’m incredibly proud to work at JLL, specifically in the Carolinas market, because of the people. Our teammates are professional, flexible, and committed to working with each other to ensure that no one is overburdened in this new and evolving environment.
- How did you determine seating arrangements? What did that process look like?
Our corporate occupancy planning team determined the seating arrangements for the workstations, conference rooms, and phone rooms to comply with state mandates and CDC guidance.
The larger footprint of our new office has allowed us to truly use our space and layout to meet social distancing requirements. We have modified workstation seating and are leveraging interior offices. Having multiple types of meeting rooms that range from one-person to four-person seating have also allowed for excellent distanced meeting spaces.
- Is there a “workplace” etiquette in place? Who enforces that it’s met? What are the consequences when it’s not?
Yes. All employees are required to wear a face covering while moving around the office and when six-foot social distancing cannot be maintained. We have also asked employees to wipe down any common area surfaces they touch after use and we have implemented enhanced cleaning protocols for our space. We have travel guidelines in place that support the CDC recommendations for domestic and international travel. All of our protocols are enforced by our leadership team.
Thankfully, our employees are excited to be back in the office, so we have not had any issues with these guidelines (a few friendly reminders do the trick). We are grateful for our team’s comradery, professionalism and commitment to having a safe working environment.
- How do you manage amenities, collaboration spaces and lounges areas like your café?
Our occupancy planning team designated meeting room capacity for each room in our office to comply with state mandates and CDC guidance. As long as employees abide by those guidelines, they have access to our conference rooms, phone rooms, and collaboration spaces. It’s important for teams to be able to meet in person while social distancing – we found that to be the biggest complaint during quarantine (Zoom fatigue is a real thing!).
- Are you supplying employees with safety supplies or are they responsible for having their own? How do you manage lead times with shipment delays?
Yes, we supplied employees with a “welcome bag” on their first day back. It included two cloth face coverings, individual hand sanitizer and hand lotion. We have ample disposable masks on site and hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, and/or wipes in every conference room, the lobby and the café. Our facilities management team monitors our supplies and adjusts for delivery lead times to ensure we are always fully stocked.
- How are you measuring success with your re-entry process? How do you know it’s working?
We’re measuring success by evaluating the health, safety, and productivy of our employees. By having consistent attendance in the space daily, we can control the environment to reduce risk of exposure while increasing morale and productivity. People are happy to be back in the office collaborating with their teammates, catching up in person, and getting back to their old (but refined) routines. We consistently monitor our new normal and encourage our employees to share feedback and observations, which so far has been incredibly positive. We’re grateful for the team mindset at JLL that makes re-entry possible.
- What advice do you have for other companies in the early phases of their re-entry strategy?
Create a safe space for honest dialogue on the pros and cons of returning to the office. Talking to your employees about their concerns will allow everyone to feel involved and likely lead to broader support on the front end. Our leadership team held several town halls during the process and were always available for questions from employees. Transparency, teamwork and communication is key.