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Return-To-Work Series: Introduction

Empty Conference Room
How many empty conference rooms are ready for face-to-face meetings now?

I’ve had quite a few people reach out to discuss return-to-work programs in the middle of this COVID-19 pandemic.

As a company, we’ve decided to publish a series of to-do articles. Starting with our Lead Spacemaker, Jessica Letourneau, Orion Growth will take you through immediate, mid-term, and longer-term strategies that can be used to get back into a safer working environment. Jessica will start with simple, quick fixes that can be implemented while folks are still home, then move into the importance of updating surface materials, construction standards, and ultimately space programming to ensure health and wellbeing are considered throughout the office-making process. Standards are moving to hand washing stations, touchless fixtures including water fountains, door hardware, sink faucets, antimicrobial solid surface counter tops, air purification and the list goes on. Perhaps most interesting will be the discussion of HOW the offices of tomorrow will be utilized, designed, and maintained.  We’re envisioning a very different type of workspace design moving forward – and we’re excited to share our vision with you.

Next, our Senior Director of Program Management, John Ramseur, will be weighing in on the importance of the virtual office.  John is a self-admitted futurist of technology and was responsible for designing and implementing the entire remote / virtual office for Orion Growth.  We all travel a good bit on behalf of our clients.  While out, we realized our productivity suffered while we were on the road.  We needed a centralized platform that could be used wherever in the world to access, share, and collaborate on files the rest of our team was working with back in Charlotte.  Because of the success of our internal roll-out, (which has been highly evident during COVID-19) we’re excited to share the ins and outs and our repeatable kit of parts with you. Never before has the virtual office and a centralized, cohesive hardware solution been so important.  John will take us through that discussion.

Finally, our Finance & Analytics guru, Brian Smith and I will be focusing on audit recovery – specific to expenses within current lease portfolios.  Corporate Real Estate is an enterprise’s second largest expense, second only to HR/Payroll/Benefits.  Our exposure into national, multi-site companies has taught us that few firms can accurately quantify their real-time OpEx and cross reference that data with heart count, daily office use (attendance) or utilization factors.  Rental rate isn’t the only expense that needs to be tracked across the term.  Common area maintenance, load factor, taxes and insurance, and the efficiency of the landlord’s team to properly maintain a multi-tenanted building are all factors.   Lease decisions should be made on solid data points along with exposure to all the necessary expenses it will take to successfully transition the workforce into the space.   The office should help the overall vision, not hinder it through unwarranted expense.  Bryan and I will take a deeper dive into those expenses so you can fully understand what’s inside (and what isn’t) a landlord’s base rate.

As you can see, we are working hard to create immediate and tangible return-to-work policies. There is an underlying theme of now, short term, and longer term when it comes to the future of Workplace Solutions Groups.  Firms in 2020 should not find themselves behind the mobile workplace or health factor movement again.  The Cloud and virtual collaboration are not trends – they’re how we work.  Employers are now realizing the need to provide enterprise-quality mobile hardware and collaboration tools such as screen sharing, web-optimized video conferencing, noise cancelling (and mic-cancelling) headsets, and much, much more.  Finally, there are expenses to cut back on.  As justification of expense becomes a daily routine, we’ve got to be smarter and smarter about every dollar in every contract.  Leases and office space are expensive.  It’s our job to help our clients get a handle on those expenses before, during, and after the project completes.