How did an entire company go from working within roughly 5,000 square feet in two corporate offices and remote offices at multiple higher education student housing communities, go home and stay home, for more than two months for the health and safety of our employees and residents and still function, communicate, collaborate and excel at the everyday business of Servitas?
What does everyday business look like? Three construction job sites, in three states, hundreds of miles apart kept going, while the management of half a dozen student properties continued, working with thousands of students and parents through some unprecedented events. Responses to proposals from higher education institutions with multiple team members were assembled, reviewed, produced, and submitted without missing any deadlines. Student housing surveys, shipping incentives to students, analysis, presentations, and reports to schools, bankers, and developers. The payroll, accounting, marketing, leasing and facilities for projects already in various stages of construction to operations from South Florida to Northern California.
What makes this work? First and foremost, the right people in the right positions. The right people with the knowledge, skills, and resources. Servitas’ hiring practices take care of most of it, but the right resources took some planning too. Over the years Servitas has stayed current with workplace technology and most recently has had an eye on the amount of travel and working remotely our team does each week. The Servitas team covers the US, from large schools to small schools and in major metro areas to rural areas. That means a lot of time out of the office and on the road. Most of the Servitas team now, more than ever, work with laptops, and our data and resources over time have migrated from the IT closet in the office to the cloud. The ability to access our resources in the cloud from a hotel, airport, job site, our homes, anywhere with an internet connection has been paramount.
Servitas has been working with video conferencing for a decade and we have had cameras watching our construction sites for years. When we are in our offices, while making copies (more likely scanning something) employees can see our projects on the screen, and with the time difference we see the sunrise and construction workers arrive, we even see the work delays when it rains.
We are making, much to the delight of our CEO, more video calls to each other and clients than phone calls. Most of this was put in motion months or years ago. We made constantly make upgrades to our IT equipment, faster switches, and servers, Wi-Fi set-ups, internet speed increases, VOIP phones, new software, SharePoint, new business class computers to make sure our teams have the best tools available. Most of Servitas has now migrated (or is in the process) to all cloud software licenses, using video conferencing and chat channels.
This is not to say it’s been easy for everyone to go home and work on short notice. Creating a home office, working on your video background, making sure your home internet service is up to par, but the back of the house was in good order. I must say, it has been fun to finally put everything to the test. Not everything worked immediately, but we made adjustments and we will continue to adapt to changes. For the most part, however, we were ready, we just did not know for what.
Servitas will continue to look to the future, whatever that might bring.. With all that’s happened in the last couple of weeks our reliance on everyone being “in the office” has waned, but we have proven, that we have the right people, knowledge and resources and can still get it done for our clients.