Like many employers, West Monroe started working remotely when the pandemic hit in March 2020. Now, we are managing re-entry into the working world—to our offices, client sites, and the transportation that gets us to and from.
To operate safely and effectively, we are leveraging an internal team of multidisciplinary experts across workforce management, employee experience, and technology—along with a committee of representatives across the firm. We've also adopted Salesforce's Work.com solution to enable our re-entry.
Our story? We're writing it as we go. To share lessons learned, best practices, and how combining technology with the right people and processes can lead to success. Read on.
As consultants, we get excited about complex business problems. It’s what motivates us to get out of bed every morning. But this problem? It’s the most complex one we’ve ever faced.
Getting back to work in the middle of a pandemic.
“Back to work” has a certain meaning for us, as we have jobs that allow us to work fully remote (for the most part). We’ve been working just as much, if not more, over the last several months helping clients pivot their business operations—just out of our own homes. But at some point, we are going back to client sites, back on the road, and back into West Monroe offices.
But how? When? Who? And in what way? These are all questions not easily answered. With differing preferences and needs from every client and employee, this is a mass puzzle—which by the way could shift at any time—and requires serious modeling, technology, and brains to figure out.
We’re using Salesforce’s Work.com to help. And we’re one of the first employers to adopt the technology. We did this for several reasons: 1) As a Salesforce Platinum Consulting Partner, we know and understand their technology—and we happen to have the best implementers in-house and 2) we wanted to go through this as our clients are going through this. To be at the forefront not only benefits our company, but yours.
Before we selected Work.com as our technology enabler, we connected at the people level. We established a reopening committee with representatives from across the firm to ensure we have diverse representation and mindshare. Having a centralized team leading the charge helps build the necessary governance to pull off such a monumental task. We also made a point to listen to our employees. We need to understand their concerns and comfort levels with getting back to work and continue to establish two-way trust.
Such a large undertaking requires a multitude of workstreams across the reopening committee—and that’s where things can get complicated. With the risk factors being so high, we knew we could not rely on Excel spreadsheets to monitor office capacity scheduling, enable contact tracing, or perform employee wellness checks. Work.com’s suite of tools has helped us get organized with modules like the centralized Workplace Command Center, Contact Tracing, and Shift Management and Planning tools.
One of the many tools within Work.com is Wellness Surveys, and this week we’re going live with them. These surveys will serve as risk governance meant to avoid having symptomatic or potentially exposed employees come into the office. For our first Work.com release, we are launching Wellness Surveys for certain employees coming to the office in our Chicago location and will expand to our other offices in future releases.
Wellness Surveys allow employees to answer a few pointed questions about their health status before coming into the office. The survey questions and Work.com system are designed to be HIPAA-compliant, so employee data will always remain private and secure. This is a front-line safeguard to protect our broader employee population and collected data can be leveraged for shift management and contact tracing.
The process is simple on both the employee and operations/HR sides.
Rolling out Wellness Surveys to a small segment now with help us optimize the process before implementing at the firmwide level. Shift scheduling will be a new process to our organization and will require some change management to be successful. Having the technology process ironed out will make adoption much smoother.
Building out this use case has also helped us understand how the shift management functionality can come to life for industries outside of consulting. For example, manufacturers, healthcare providers, and retailers juggle multiple shifts a day and our testing of the tool is helping us understand its flexibility to support different needs.
All organizations will need a shift management strategy to reopen their doors—but one size won’t fit all.
As a consulting organization, our workday doesn’t always follow the traditional nine-to-five model. Before the pandemic, we spent a large portion of our weeks at client sites or on the move and we have employees who regularly travel between our office locations. Most areas of our offices are physically designed with open seating spaces to accommodate this flexibility. We needed to design a shift management strategy that would allow our employees to take ownership of their schedule—a process that wouldn’t put extra burden on our operations team to manage manually—and one that would be easily adopted by our teams.
The out-of-the-box functionality of Work.com’s shift management tool allows employees to select open shifts for a single location that they primarily work from. After selecting their shift, they need to wait for a shift planner or scheduled batch process to approve their request. If the employee needs to change or cancel their shift, they will need to work with the shift planner to make this happen. We wanted to bypass these administrative steps and allow employees to schedule shifts at any of our office locations and get immediate confirmation. To do this, we built a custom shift scheduling app in Work.com to meet our needs.
Our app creates a streamlined and user-friendly self-service process:
Employees will also get a sense for how close to the operating capacity the office might be at their desired time, based on how many shifts are available. Multiple open shifts at a certain time would indicate that we are far from full, while few open shifts would signal that the office would be close to capacity.
As we start to enact our re-entry strategy in our offices over the coming months—a hybrid of optional in-person return and continued remote work—we are working to prioritize transparency and consistent messaging across all offices. To do this, a robust communications plan was established early on to include weekly communication from our chief administrative officer, a centralized SharePoint hub for self-serve guidance, and ongoing cross-team collaboration with our re-entry steering committee and workstream leads.
Our communications plan evolved from our reactive strategy (closing offices, restricting travel) to a proactive one (increased cleaning, ongoing assessment of geography risk factors) to prepare our employees should they choose to return to our physical offices. To measure the engagement with our communication plan, we kept a pulse on readability statistics, and found the majority of our employees were consuming the information across the varied channels. This meant we could also leverage these channels to effectively communicate about Work.com.
Rolling out a new process and technology requires a thoughtful adoption strategy. To be successful with Work.com, we needed to marry our communications with system-specific documentation and training. Our re-entry and implementation teams agreed on a shared goal of preparing our employees for a new workday where conscious adoption of Work.com would be required for the health and safety of our entire organization.
Since offices are opening for optional attendance, we wanted to be sure employees felt comfortable and informed when making their decision on where to work. We wanted to ensure our employees were able to visualize their return to the West Monroe offices and know how new processes and protocol may impact their level of comfort with working from the office. We outlined a visual map of an employee commuting from home to the office and which new COVID-19 protocols they may need to consider before embarking on that journey. Decisions like:
We outlined a separate map of what a day in the office might look like. This included questions such as:
All of these decisions are new to employees, but they are important in making sure employees are addressing all of their own personal circumstances and risk tolerances.
Additionally, the implementation and re-entry teams are collaborating to define and establish dedicated feedback channels for our employees. These channels will be differentiated by personas (role, office location, etc.) and needs (technical support, physical protocol compliance, etc.) and will be shared regularly so that support is in place when needed.
The pandemic has caused major disruptions to nearly every business across industries, so as we look to re-enter our physical office spaces, we know that a collaborative, evolving, and robust change preparedness plan is key to a safe, healthy, and positive employee experience.
A director in our OE practice, Corie has experience helping organizations execute transformative change in order to be more competitive.
Andrew has a proven history of delivering measurable results for his clients through novel organizing solutions.
Tim is a Customer Experience professional specializing in transforming experiences for our clients - and their customers, employees, and partners.
Leann is a Director in our Customer Experience practice, an accomplished client partner and engagement leader, and a Salesforce CRM expert.
Jermaine delivers complex technology solutions that engage customers, employees, and other stakeholders and enable companies to accomplish more with less.