The world has changed drastically due to Covid-19. Through it all, we are striving to do our best for our clients and employees. With the ability to pivot now into a hybrid schedule, ADVANTEC will keep the “people-centric” focus on our culture to help our staff while promoting teamwork and camaraderie.
ADVANTEC Embarks on Maintaining Highest Level of Client Service within a Flexible Hybrid Work Environment
Re-opening of the ADVANTEC Offices has been a well thought-out and inclusive event. Fifteen months ago, we pivoted to work from home. As we pivot back to the office, with new agility, we move into a hybrid schedule of half-office and half-home working that gives our staff the flexibility they need to maintain their optimal work-life balance. The central philosophy is based our trust and accountability, transparency and caring attitude. This is all a part of our inclusivity plan of addressing the needs of each team member. We asked our team what they needed to best serve our clients in a hybrid schedule while maintaining rigorous team communications, and implemented a number of initiatives to address the staff’s concerns, including changing the filters in the offices to the highest level of virus protection, providing hardware for staff to work efficiently from home and office, and providing a high level of sanitation in the office environments.
A Hybrid Work Schedule: Our Solution for a Maintaining Good Client Service and Quality of Life for our Team
We welcomed our employees back into the office on June 14, 2021. Prior to that, we consulted with staff and instituted a 4½ day work week, where employees would work 9-hour days from Monday-Thursday and only 4 hours on Fridays, and established a hybrid work schedule in the office two days per week. This initial hybrid work plan was developed to strike a balance between the need to collaborate in-person and the need to commute in order to foster a better quality of life for our employees as well as maintaining excellent client service.
Working at the Office
Our team is required to be fully vaccinated, to wash hands and sanitize often, and to remain six-feet social distance from colleagues as much as possible. We also encourage staff to wear a mask while in the public areas of the offices or when they need to confer close together. Meetings are conducted online to protect our clients and employees while also enhancing efficiency for meetings.
Maintaining Culture, Camaraderie and Mentoring
Throughout the pandemic, it was harder to maintain our culture, mentoring staff and promoting camaraderie. With our new hybrid work environment, we will strive to consciously achieve that, and here are several ways we will continue to nurture the culture of our company.
- We Live up to our Motto “Because we Care”. We care about our clients, our staff, and the community! How do we live that adage? We are flexible to address the needs of individual staff, while maintaining close collaboration to achieve good results. Like many organizations, we have had a couple staff who were sick during the pandemic, and we pooled teamwork to help out those staff members that are sick. This also extends to community service. We have donated masks to OCTA Bus Operations and San Diego Convention Center, and also donated money to all five local food banks. We will continue to look for ways to help out the community!
- Communicate in the Most Effective Way for the Purpose. Communications is a key to successful collaboration and teamwork. Sometimes a phone call is much faster than writing an email. Sometimes an email is less intrusive than a phone call. Sometimes a text message is the fastest way to get an answer. When a staff member has a technical question, they can put it on our Teams chatroom and any other staff can jump in to help. Often a meeting or conference call with all parties involved saves time and effort. We will use the most effective communication method for the situation.
- Be Inclusive to Achieve Diversity of Ideas. We are in a rapidly changing, idea-rich, innovative world, so providing forums for ideas from team members is essential. “No idea is a bad idea” – everybody is welcome to share their ideas of how to improve our working environment and collaboration. We are still conducting daily huddles online among different teams of staff, and staff meetings every Monday online. We have consulted with staff and listened to their needs. The Covid-19 workplace may have sparked many ideas among people who were working remotely, and the new office return may not only look different than before, but may spark some great ideas for change and innovation.
- Reinforce the Higher Purpose of What We Do. Engineers’ mission is to make the world a better place – without engineers, we may still be living in stone-age. We improve the safety, reliability and sustainability of the transportation infrastructures of the community. Every single ADVANTEC team member is a part of this. Whether they are ordering sandwiches for a meeting so that the team can collaborate through lunch, the person crunching the numbers, the person doing the design or the person managing the project; every single person on the team is an integral part of making the community and the world a better place.
- Have Fun. While work is the central purpose of our collaboration, having fun is a key part of it too. We offered a few social events during the year despite the pandemic, including an online ‘escape room game’, had virtual parties and happy hours, and had a photo contest of different food that our staff made at home, just to have some fun. After the re-opening, we are scheduling a companywide picnic in July to share our potluck food since everyone has become a good chef!
In closing, we would like to share several of the many points from “ORGANIZATIONAL EXCELLENCE AND COLLABORATION ORANGE COUNTY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY 2021 BOARD & CEO INITIATIVES RELIABLE, ACCESSIBLE, AND BALANCED TRANSPORTATION CHOICES” signed by Darrell Johnson, CEO and Andrew DO, Chair of OCTA:
- Plan and Adapt to a Changing Environment
- Champion Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability
- Enhance Workforce Diversity and Inclusive Work Culture
- Adapt to a Changing Workplace and Promote Employee Development and Safety
- Provide Quality Customer Service and Collaborate with Regional Partners
If you have ideas about improving the hybrid workplace in today’s world, connect with us on social media or send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.