How to bring productivity home

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Written by: Alexa Stone

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 3.6% of the U.S. workforce telecommuted on most days. Only 7% of employers offered that option.

As of Spring, 2020, stay-at-home orders have the doors and emptied the parking lots of many businesses. Those businesses and their suppliers seek ways to move forward while ensuring the health and wellness of every stakeholder – whether an employee, customer, supplier, or shareholder. Telework has become an essential and immediate option.

Remote work is not always possible., but an estimated 56% of jobs in the U.S. are at least partially compatible with it. If business operations transform in response, the numbers of offsite workers are likely to be greater long after stay-at-home orders are lifted. Up to 30% of the workforce may continue to telecommute on most days each week.[1]

THE CHALLENGE

The value of collaboration IS well established. The intense needs for direct communication in a competitive environment have kept 96.4% of the U.S. workforce from telecommuting. Now, business is no less competitive, but essential physical distancing cannot be maintained at close quarters within offices, factories, retail operations, and warehouses.

The connectivity required for at-distance collaboration is widely – but not universally – available. At-home broadband service is unavailable to nearly 10% of working-age adults.[2] Many of the remaining 90%, including small business owners, now struggle in harsh economic realities. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has developed a Keep Americans Connected Pledge[3] to assist where possible. Broadband and telephone service providers who sign the 60-day pledge agree to maintain service and not charge late fees to residential or small business customers. The pledge also opens the Wi-Fi access offered by those providers.

REMOTE TEAM COMMUNICATION

The technologies that have served today’s telecommuters must now support remote desktops, shared calendars, instant messaging and more. An organization’s choice may hinge on the required features as well as cost. Here, in alphabetic order, are some popular options. This list could be a starting point for a technology search:

Work at remote sites and at home has always been part of ecoPreserve’s corporate culture. In our first decade, we have enjoyed the benefits while developing our own set of telecommuting tools and best practices.

The tech tools we have tried evolved continually through those years, but the shift from one communication tool to the next has never been jarring. Experience in one has always reduced the “learning curve” to the next.

PLANNING AND COLLABORATION

Online meeting

Communication tools deliver messages and appointments that are essential for progress, but they can also be distracting. Effective project management methodologies and worthwhile meetings must avoid those pitfalls. Collaboration tools can help. Many have been designed around today’s best practices for project management and meetings. Guided by the frameworks within those tools, each remote team member can bring productivity home.

One or more of the links below may lead to collaboration software that aligns with your organization’s business processes:

At ecoPreserve, we have adapted an agile process framework that logically segments complex projects into subtask sprints. For us, the methodology is more like a guiding hand than a rigid template.

What we’ve been doing aligns with U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) recommendations[5] to divide a task list into sprints, to maintain the list based on agreed goals and iterative processes, and to regularly conduct focused meetings.

We have implemented frequent short ‘scrum’ meetings, along with weekly Level 10™ Meetings inspired by Gino Wickman’s Entrepreneurial Operating System.[6] In most cases, our meetings are convened through teleconference. In all cases, we are committed to starting and ending on time, documenting key issues, and collaborating on decisions and solutions. As the online meeting ends, we have gained clear resolution and action items. For those unable to attend, the meeting has been recorded in audio-visual form.

Beyond these challenging times, organizations may experience efficient, lower-cost ways to deliver timely, high-quality results. Done strategically, digital connectivity can make an organization stronger and more resilient. We may one day claim an environmental benefit. Even half-time remote work reduces commuter travel, reducing carbon footprints while freeing-up the commuter freeways.

[1] GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com
[2] Brookings.edu
[3] FCC.gov
[4] VoidPreview.org
[5] GSA.gov
[6] EOSWorldwide.com
Level 10 Meetings is a trademark of EOS Worldwide.

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AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

Tools tailored to location and need

Disaster resilience requires a select toolset, identified, adapted, or created as needed based on planning calls and inclusive workshop participation.

Business and government organizations today are confronted by threat categories that range from drought to flood, from fire to hurricane, and extend globally to pandemics and sea level rise. Threat categories are broad and diverse, but ecoPreserve and collaborating organizations design resiliency tools for specific local context.

Local needs are identified and verified. Building from that essential understanding, tools are designed, tested in pilot programs, refined, then implemented through action plans.

Today's challenges/
tomorrow's potential

ecoPreserve collaborates with major community and private organizations in optimizing the resiliency and resource efficiency of their workplaces, venues, and public spaces.

In response to ever-increasing environmental, sociopolitical, and public health challenges, we advocate for and participate in assessment and planning actions that directly address disaster preparations, recovery activities, infrastructure improvements, and smart building/city design.

Online and in-person workshops

ecoPreserve designs and leads workshops in varied formats, to achieve varied goals.

Often an event is held for skill and knowledge development, but some needs of an organization or community are better resolved through collaboration to identify requirements and to design solutions. A range of Disaster Resilience workshops are available for solutions planning and development, as well as for training and communication.

Disaster Planning and Recovery Workshops

  • Identify technical and business process gaps
  • Define stakeholders, recovery teams, and processes/functionalities necessary for operation
  • Highlight missed expectations from a data loss and recovery time perspective
  • Address compliance with regulatory agencies and industry standards
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.