As fall gets underway, Larson Design Group (LDG) is reflecting on the most challenging summer in recent history and how we have risen to the many challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Naturally, staying safe in every capacity was top of mind for LDG as we navigated the circumstances of lockdowns and social distancing. In addition to taking all necessary precautions in alignment with government and health organization recommendations, such as enacting a remote work environment, LDG’s Incident Response Team (IRT) was established in early March and began meeting several times per week in order to monitor our business impact, state and federal government rules and recommendations, and the way forward.
Transitioning hundreds of employees to remote work in a timely fashion proved to be enormously challenging for many companies. However, LDG was able to clear this hurdle quickly and efficiently – even for its many team members who use bandwith-heavy design and drafting programs – thanks to a concerted effort in recent years to enable greater mobility and collaboration.
“In the last three years or so, it became one of our goals to supply every team member with a laptop and frame out a network that can handle a high volume of remote work, so that they can take advantage of flexible work opportunities,” said Scott Kantner, LDG’s Chief Information Officer. “It was because of this forward-thinking approach that we were able to transition all of our employees across 12 offices to a virtual work environment in less than a week.”
Community stewardship is one of LDG’s core values, and in these uncertain times it’s more important than ever that we continue to enrich the communities in which we live and operate.
One of the most pressing concerns early in the pandemic was the availability of laptops or tablets and access to internet for students to finish the school year at home. In April, LDG’s three Pittsburgh-area offices joined with Beyond The Laptops, a partnership with the Pittsburgh Technology Council that provided laptops and accessories to roughly 75,000 households in Allegheny County that were without a home computer – including more than 7,000 students in the Pittsburgh Public School System. As many school districts begin the year online, these devices will be just as crucial as they were in the spring.
LDG also supported front-line healthcare workers and other essential employees. In April, our Williamsport office made a monetary donation to Eat and Run Restaurant and Catering to support their work of making and delivering meals to nurses and doctors at local hospitals. During National Nurses Week in May, our Columbus office made donations of drinks and snacks to an Intensive Care/COVID-19 unit at Riverside Hospital in Columbus, OH.
Another considerable challenge that many have faced was feeling cut off from friends and coworkers – and in some cases, family – during the ongoing pandemic. LDG has attempted to meet this challenge head-on, launching an internal #stayconnected campaign that has encouraged team members to share everything from “quarantine projects” to staycation photos, collegiate gear day, and things we’re grateful for.
Remote work also encouraged us as a company to boost team communications and leverage the technology that exists to do so. An increase in team and one-on-one meetings using numerous video chat platforms proved to be an effective way to stay on top of work, but also helped staff feel more connected to their colleagues – a welcome sense of normalcy during a time when working side-by-side isn’t recommended.
As LDG team members have begun transitioning back to office locations, a safe return to work plan has been implemented and strictly enforced. Working closely with our IRT, a Business Transition Team created a plan focused on best practices that allow us to adhere to local, state and federal recommendations while continuing to engage in the client service excellence that defines us. Office locations have been equipped with appropriate signage to remind visitors and team members alike about social distancing and other important precautions; LDG is also providing masks and other personal protective equipment to staff. In addition, the company has implemented the use of a sign-in app to confirm which team members are working on what days – not only to ensure a safe number of people in offices, but also to facilitate easy contact tracing if necessary.
“The impact of COVID-19 on the way LDG does business is unprecedented in our 30+ year history, but I am pleased with our ability to transition to remote work so seamlessly and proud to be a part of a company that continues to focus on the individual needs and safety of our employee-owners during this time,” said Dave Schaarsmith, Chief Operating Officer. “It is their dedication to our vision and values that makes our continued success possible.”
Founded in 1986, Larson Design Group is an award-winning national architecture, engineering and consulting firm with 12 offices in five states and a vision to elevate client relationships, enrich the careers and lives of its employee-owners, and enhance the communities in which it operates. For more information, visit www.larsondesigngroup.com.
The health and safety of our team members and clients is our top priority. Click here to read about LDG’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.