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Back To The Office

This month we are exploring what a "Back to the Office" concept may include.  Guest author Tay Othman, AIA, LEED, AP, shares the collaborative efforts DES Architects + Engineers implemented to learn what health, safety and welfare concerns must be considered and addressed for all DES employees to feel safe and secure. 

A wild ride.  Was it?  Is it over?  Or is it going to be a paradigm shift in lifestyle?  After more than three months of home sheltering and business lockdowns, we are finally thinking about our next steps in searching for the best possible ways to serve our clients. 

Unfortunately, selecting a workplace method is not an On/Off Switch.  It needs to meet the needs of a wider spectrum of professionals, projects and businesses to efficiently keep our economy running while saving precious lives in our societies.  As our leaders disagree on the merits of business lockdowns, there is an immense need for true leaders to listen to their constituents and employees to forge a strategy towards building healthy and successful work environments. 
Many firm leaders decided to democratize these strategies to make inclusive decisions that could meet every professional need for all employees, their families and their health situation.  I consider myself very fortunate to work for DES Architects + Engineers, a multi-disciplinary A/E firm that is exceptionally diverse in leadership, talents, backgrounds, race, gender and even immigration status.  Our leadership acknowledged our differences and decided not to make any decision without building surveys that carefully listen and document every employee's thoughts about returning to work. As expected from our firm, the survey intention wasn't a poll for people to vote whether they are willing to work from the office or not, instead it was a tool for our leadership to listen, measure and make informed decisions towards our future workplace. 
Below are some of our employees' concerns that were important for our office leadership and how these factors are shaping our workplace strategies.  

In general, employees' desire to return to the office was divided: 
  • 28% are on the reluctant side to return to the office
  • 37% do not feel too strongly and would be ok returning to the office
  • 34% are feeling it's time to return to the office
  • 58% of employees can return to the office with nothing preventing them
  • Childcare may be an issue for about 19% of the population and may change as the SIP lifts and childcare options become more readily available
  • "Other" concerns were mainly workplace safety at 24%
  • 75% of employees would like to continue working remotely 2 or more days per week
  • 25% of folks prefer to work onsite daily or remotely one day per week
  • Employee concerns toward regional public transportation and the current safety measures employed by transportation authorities seems to be inadequate
Other requested preliminary steps as requred by the employees include:
  • Provide hand sanitizer stations at office entrance, meeting rooms and common areas
  • Retrofit the restrooms to have hands free faucets and soap dispensers
  • Require touchless temperature checks (and a formal log) at the front desk before allowing employees to proceed to their desks
  • Provide and require face masks to be worn at all times
  • Adjust furniture to allow 6 feet distance to the nearest person
  • Adust work hours or workdays to reduce the office population
  • Provide tissues at locations where staff is required to touch common items (elevator buttons, restroom door handles, etc.)
  •  If a face to face meeting is required, limit meeting attendance size to maintain a 6 foot clearance between folks in a conference room
  • Full time cleaning service (day porter) to clean conference rooms after every meeting, plus common areas, kitchen, and restrooms
  • Provide single use items instead of bulk (i.e. individual creamers rather than a half gallon of milk) 
  • Provide cleaning supplies for employees to clean their work stations before use each day (in addition to enhanced janitorial services)
  • Require all visitors and guests to observe established office protocol (temperature check, masks, social distancing, etc.)
It would be great if other firms would employ some form of employee participation in workplace planning.  I believe the above can inspire readers of this guest article to engage in a similar concept/method, however, unique to your own firms.  Maybe, just maybe, this upcoming decade will witness the emergence of new horizons in professional practice and business management never thought about before. 

Along with Tay, we would appreciate your input about what measures are being taken by you and your firm.  Please send your comments to: .  We want to compile the information we receive and provide the results in an upcoming edition of "The Credential". 

Once again we encourage you to stay the course of due diligence concerning the business operations of your professional practice. Are you up-to-date with your continuing education requirements for license renewal even though there may be waivers in place due to COVID 19?  Oh, and one more best practice topic, if are you in process preparing your corporate reports for the Secretary of State where your firm is registered to practice, we can help. 

If you need assistance with managing your
individual credentials and corporate credentials compliance issues, call 913-608-7880 to have your questions answered and/or concerns addressed during a free consultation.  Visit to explore additional benefits of our service. 


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P.O. Box 91, Olathe, KS, 66051