West Monroe: Leveraging Work.com for Re-Entry


Like many employers, West Monroe started working remotely when the pandemic hit in March 2020. Now, we are managing re-entry into the working worldto 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 technologyalong 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. 

Chapter 1: The most complex business problem we’ve ever faced

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.

The beginning of our journey

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.

What we’ve figured out:

  • New capacity rules for each of our offices, according to CDC guidelines
  • Our employees’ sentiments on returning to the office by deploying an employee survey and analyzing the results
  • That we can create multiple “shifts” to adapt to specific use cases, as required, thanks to Work.com’s Shift Management being flexible and accommodating

Questions we’re taking on this week:

  • What legal considerations should we be thinking about so our workforce can certify their health and wellness? What are the most effective ways to maintain trust and transparency with our employees as we begin this new process?
  • How will we ensure compliance with the new policies and procedures? Keeping our employees safe will require everyone to follow new guidelines.
  • We have new considerations for data privacy as we collect health data on our employees. How will we define data access rights for each of the roles involved in our re-entry process?

Chapter 2: Getting started with Wellness Surveys

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.    

How we’re executing Wellness Surveys  

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. 

The employee survey experience: 

  • Employees who are scheduled to come into the office will get a survey the morning of their shift and will need to respond to specific health-related questions related to their personal health and potential exposure to anyone having COVID-19  
  • Employees will be asked to consent to providing accurate and true statements. 
  • They will need to complete the survey from home that morning, within two hours of their shift, to be cleared to come to the office.

The operations and HR survey experience: 

  • Shift management will provide operations visibility into who is scheduled to come to an office and ensure we are in compliance with capacity limits.  
  • Using the Command Center dashboard, our operations team will only see whether an employee has been cleared to come to the office 

What Wellness Surveys will allow us to do on a broader scale 

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.  

What we’ve figured out:

  • Shift management can be optimized and scaled based on unique scheduling requirements of organization across industries 
  • The creation of tools like job aids and FAQ documents will be key to enabling change management and supporting our employees’ success. This means transparent and practical communication on what to expect and why we’re using Work.com.  
  • We created a custom solution to tie the shift management and wellness survey functionality of Work.com together so automated wellness surveys only go out to employees when they need to complete one. This will keep our health data up-to-date and relevant. 

Questions we’re taking on next:

  • What does cohort scheduling look like, so teams can repeatedly work together on shifts? This could minimize exposure across the workforce and making contact tracing even easier.
  • How will we apply other reporting features in the Command Center to our re-entry strategy?
  • What was the experience of the employees who participated in the Wellness Surveys release and where could we improve?

Chapter 3: Using shift management to manage capacity—with highly flexible working times

All organizations will need a shift management strategy to reopen their doorsbut 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 schedulea process that wouldn’t put extra burden on our operations team to manage manuallyand one that would be easily adopted by our teams.

Building on the base Work.com functionality to create a customized, automated scheduling solution

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 select a date and select a location where they’d like to reserve a shift
  • Location options can be as granular as a building, floor, or sub-section of a floor
  • They are then presented with the available shifts at that specific location
  • When the employee selects a shift, they receive immediate confirmation that it has been assigned
  • Once a shift is booked, a wellness survey will automatically be triggered to send to the employee
  • Should the employee need to make changes to their schedule, they’re able to select the previously assigned shift in question and cancel it, automatically returning that shift to the pool where it’ll be available for someone else to select

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.

Back to Work app

What we’ve figured out

  • We’re able to deploy both the standard Work.com shift management functionality and our custom shift management solution simultaneously, giving one group of employees the immediate scheduling option while another group goes through the request-and-optimize approach.
  • Work.com is flexible enough for us to get creative in solving our unique needs
  • Our deep expertise in other Salesforce clouds and solutions, such as Field Service Lightning, has given us a tremendous advantage in our Work.com implementation

Questions we’re taking on next

  • How do we continue to design our strategy to remain flexible and scalable given the changing environment?
  • How do we leverage the Command Center to manage all these moving parts from a central location?
  • How do we apply shift data to the identification process for future contact tracing?

Chapter 4: How we’re communicating our re-entry strategy and enabling adoption

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: 

  • Have I registered for a time to come into the office?
  • Am I comfortable with public transportation or will I now pay for parking?
  • Is my favorite coffee shop reopened? 

We outlined a separate map of what a day in the office might look like. This included questions such as: 

  • Am I comfortable wearing a mask all day? 
  • How will this mask impact personal connections on my video calls? 
  • Am I comfortable with physical distancing and reduced collaboration guidelines? 

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. 

Our overall lessons learned:

  • Employees need to be able to prepare for changes to their previous work environment. The offices that are reopening may look different and employees need to understand these changes to ensure they are comfortable with the new environment
  • Incorporating Work.com specific documentation and training early and often throughout the re-entry process is necessary for team collaboration and employee preparedness
  • Work.com is a scalable solution that was designed specifically to facilitate safe re-entry and has the flexibility to be adjusted based on organizational needs
  • Above all else, prioritization of a safe, healthy, and positive employee experience can be facilitated by a successful implementation of Work.com, clear physical protocol, and transparent communication from leadership.
Back to Work: Re-entry Strategy and Deployment
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