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  • 1.  Employer guidelines to re-opening offices post-Covid19

    Posted 05-05-2020 03:22 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 05-05-2020 03:21 PM
    Last week, in the ASCE moderators discussion, we discussed ways employers may choose to re-open their offices to employees.
    Part of my role includes overseeing all of our REO facilities. I've been watching our digital entry logs and, even though our offices are officially closed, I have noticed an uptick in both unique entries and frequency of entry. In other words, more people are using our offices today then they did early in the shelter-at-home phase. I imagine every office will develop a unique approach towards re-opening.

    My office suite holds between 15-30 people on average. We also house 5 tenants with varying numbers of people not to mention deliveries and general public. In total I'm guessing there is about 100 unique individuals in the building at any one time. When we first heard about COVID19 we engaged a part time cleaning porter to sanitize on an hourly basis and implemented personal station protocol in addition to our normal cleaning regime.

    As executive orders came out, We quickly went fully remote. My team is anxious to be back together. (I'm a little surprised.)
    I thought this article (even though it's UK based) was helpful in thinking through some aspects of reopening. We've discussed opening in rotations of teams. We looked at which critical functions involve which people and if key people got sick together and asked ourself  "Would we be able to function?". For instance, we have two key accountants, we need one or the other at any one time to process daily transactions. Out of caution we'd prefer these two individuals maintain in separation.

    I'm curious, what are others doing or plan to do when they reopen to employees?

    COVID-19: Top 10 focus areas for workplace re-entry checklist
    Jll remove preview
    COVID-19: Top 10 focus areas for workplace re-entry checklist
    While organizations are anxious to get employees back into the workplace, they must keep in mind that determining who will return and when they will return is a complex process. Local government mandates and landlord policies must be considered, as should employees' confidence in building safety.
    View this on Jll >

    Jesse Kamm PhD, PMP, A.M.ASCE
    Senior Vice President of Construction Management

  • 2.  RE: Employer guidelines to re-opening offices post-Covid19

    Posted 05-07-2020 09:44 AM
    Hi Jesse, 

    I am also curious to see how other companies are planning to reopen to employees. Currently, in my work, the company will continue to operate as we have been, working from home with the ability to utilize our offices as needed for essential work. I believe this approach is being extended to the end of this quarter. I also know that the company is providing hand sanitizers, disinfects wipes and sprays, and masks if needed. The last update we received says the building management is ensuring that the offices are clean appropriately and disinfected before we all begin to return.

    In other places, I have heard of a check-in list being implemented, and the counting of people inside the office. I believe this will be similar to the rotation of teams you mentioned since only a specific percentage of people will be allowed in the office at a given time. 

    Julian S. Valencia A.M.ASCE
    Utility Engineer
    Houston, TX

  • 3.  RE: Employer guidelines to re-opening offices post-Covid19

    Posted 05-07-2020 02:18 PM
    Great post! I've been thinking a lot about this from an ethics perspective. I am following this thread and certainly don't have an answer to this. Here are some scenarios I've been thinking about and I'd love to hear how different offices are addressing this:

    • How can we restart in a way that is fair to all employees? 
    • Should anyone in a high-risk health group - or who lives with a high-risk person - be going to a construction site? (And if the answer is "no", how do you communicate that and act in a way that isn't discriminatory or violates HIPPA)?  
    • How do decide or determine if a construction site is "safe enough" to visit? What policies need to be in place for you to allow your employees to make a site visit?
    • If you know you have an employee whose partner is a doctor or nurse, do you really want that employee in the office? How do a create a policy that is fair to both that employee and others in the office?
    • In most states, schools are closed. How do you reopen an office without discriminating in some way against parents, especially single parents? (The same question goes for any type of caretaker.)
    • For firms with offices in multiple states, what are you doing in cases where some states are open and others are still closed to be fair/ethical to all?
    • Pre-COVID, there was definitely a stigma in some organizations with working remotely. From a statistical perspective, minority groups are much more likely to, for example, be caregivers. How do we ethically reopen offices in a way that doesn't set our industry back on the strides that have been made since the last recession in diversity, inclusion, and equity?
    What do you think?

    Stephanie Slocum P.E., M.ASCE
    Engineers Rising LLC

  • 4.  RE: Employer guidelines to re-opening offices post-Covid19

    Posted 05-13-2020 01:50 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 05-13-2020 05:31 PM
    Thank you @Stephanie Slocum for sharing these thought provoking questions. We will be incorporating them into this week's (May 14) Thursdays @ 3 virtual roundtable on preparing for the "new normal" in the workplace. I hope you are able to join us. You can register here. ​​

    Tirza Austin
    Manager, Online Community
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive
    Reston, VA 20191

  • 5.  RE: Employer guidelines to re-opening offices post-Covid19

    Posted 05-18-2020 03:15 PM
    Edited by Mitchell Winkler 05-20-2020 04:57 PM

    I think businesses and organizations can make use of the three simple framing questions 1) where are we now, 2) where do we want to be and 3) how do we get there to plan a deliberate and thoughtful way forward. My sense is that different situations / projects would have different answers / outcomes. Furthermore, I think any activity requiring physical presence is subject to a process review and possible redesign asking why is the physical presence required, can the outcome be achieved using a remote means, and at what cost or loss in productivity or other. This would allow for deliberate and thoughtful decisions to be made.  Finally, for organizations that allow choices between office and remote working, reward and recognition needs to be applied in unbiased manner and visibly demonstrated as such.

    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX