At the suggestion of a good friend, I’ve been capturing some of my lessons learned throughout the pandemic. It’s been a good exercise to put down some thoughts on what this adventure has taught me. I’ve recently written about the things I’ve learned about people during the last 18 months. The concept of place is another area where we’ve been forced to rethink how we do business.
– Like many organizations, Ramey went fully remote in March 2020. Fortunately, with an office in New Orleans, our team was already proficient in videoconferencing. We were also experienced in conducting storm drills for a utility client for whom we handle crisis communications. So the transition to remote working was less turbulent than it may have been otherwise. Read about our business continuity plan we activated in March 2020.
– With the ebbs and flows of infection spikes since last spring, we have at various times opened our offices for team members, utilizing a protocol developed by our “Safe at Work” team. Attendance at our offices remained completely voluntary, but we learned quickly that there were colleagues who believed that they were much more productive working from the office than they were at home. We have tried to be as flexible and supportive as possible to ensure that our team can be as successful (and safe) as possible in the best possible place.
– Place matters. Our team members who worked from our offices reported high rates of satisfaction being around others. Ironically, the lease for our home base office in Jackson was set to expire this summer, and our landlord informed us that our Fondren Place office space would be converted from commercial to 30 residential apartments. The timing was right for us to look for alternative options – and we were fortunate to find a short-term lease in space that required minimal updates – in order to try a two-year experiment exploring the most ideal space for the future.
– Inspired in large part by the shared office space environment in our New Orleans office, the footprint of our home base office shrank from 13,500 sq ft to 3,500. The new space at The Township at Colony Park is designed to be highly collaborative, with a variety of workspaces ranging from private rooms to open day desks to semi-private nooks to a large living room. Each space is equipped with technology that allows us to videoconference with other team members, clients, and production partners.
– This is our first week where the new space is open to our team, albeit with maximum capacity limitations due to the latest pandemic spike. That said, everyone who has used the space has been excited, happy, and productive. This “grand experiment” will be in real-time – and we’ll work to see how our output and KPIs increase or decrease over the next 24 months as we work to refine a hybrid in-office and work-from-home model.
– New Beginnings. My hope is that the spaces that we create for in-person collaboration will fit the needs of our team and will inspire them to be the best version of themselves. For our full-time remote team members, we continue to seek ways to ensure that they feel fully a part of the larger team – and that we can help them, when possible, create a productive space at home. Done right, we aim to help our team be in space – in a place – where they can fully thrive.
Chris Ray, CEO