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by Ky Ekinci

Eight months… It’s been eight months since COVID-19 transformed life as we know it.

Today, most businesses are embracing face masks, teams and customers are trying their best to keep a six feet of physical distance, most learned to work with clients and team on video conference calls, and more.

At Office Divvy we believe doing these basics are definitely a good start.

Here at Office Divvy, in addition to our consulting and customer experience call desk services, part of our business is to run a shared business location with offices and meeting rooms for our clients to use. Our office is their office. Some of our clients are headquartered within our space, others subscribe to a satellite office solution.

If you have an office space you certainly have shared spaces such as kitchens, restrooms and meeting rooms, and managing the Covid-19 safety requirements can be challenging, time consuming and costly. Now imagine, having nearly 70 companies under one roof, each with their own needs for customer interactions and transactions managed by our team (like drop offs, payments, office visits), and their individual access to office and meeting spaces on-demand. This may sound like an impossible job…it is not. But it is hard work; work we take seriously.

12 years into Office Divvy, we’re a very well oiled-machine.

Our tools, systems and teams are strong. We’ve also learned a lot while transitioning to the new normal of operating during the Covid-19 era. For a pandemic that is far from over, our emphasis continues to be on increased vigilance for safety for our members, clients and their guests, with an increased focus on compassion and empathy in the workplace.

Here are some of the things we’re doing at Office Divvy to operate responsibly while at the same time keeping optimism up:

All incoming traffic is managed. Video intercom at the entrance helps manage inbound traffic so folks are not coming in as they please but based on actual factors such as time of arrival vis a vis appointment, customer service needs, lobby capacity and more.

Mask required. Yes, we’re dealing with an airborne virus and hence we’ve made mask-requirements in the space from the get go.

We’re not going to drop our guard down on that anytime soon. It is a minor inconvenience for our members and their guests on the side of safety, and 99% of all the people who have been in the space have respected and embraced that. Managing inbound traffic with video-intercom before granting access also ensures mask requirements are being observed by all.

Touchless transactions. Dropping off documents or a package is often managed without any touch or having to enter the space. No courier delivery personnel enters the office to drop off packages, period. A passcode protected lockbox accomplishes all those types of transactions.

We take pride in offering a shared team, so our clients do not have to preside over each and every transaction with their customers. Certain client drop offs are also managed without entering the space, with special emphasis on customer-service oriented welcoming communication via the video-intercom.

Evolving and Optimizing Sanitizing. Prioritizing the safety and comfort of our clients, team and community led us to a new31-point sanitizing checklist which replaced our pre-pandemic 14-point checklist.

Relentless pursuit of all the products we would need to deliver to our standards has required its own research, trials and tribulations.

Offering physical and mental comfort in our space is so important to us.

The checklist gets down to the nitty gritty on how we sanitize our office spaces and surfaces and eliminate pathogens from the indoor air.

Policy implementations are in place like wiping door handles after each entrance, consistently opening the windows after each meeting to let fresh air in so the indoor air is diluted for any pathogens and spraying a disinfectant solution on all surfaces using an electrostatic sprayer.

We’ve learned so much and continue to learn each day. Naturally all this has been built into solid SOPs for the team. We stick to our checklist with military-grade discipline.

Rethinking Office Supplies.What we no longer need versus what we do has been a mind bender of all sorts, but here are some vital changes and additions we’ve put into place:

  • Touchless garbage cans and paper towel and soap dispensers
  • Pen on a string hung from a team-member’s neck replaces a drawer full of pens
  • Large screens can still be found in conference rooms, though now you’ll check out keyboards and remotes library-style. Naturally, we sanitize each upon use.
  • No more whiteboard markers and erasers laying about. Request those and we’ll provide and sanitize when done.
  • The beverage stations for made-to-order coffees are less of a mainstream item right now. Cold cans of delicious lattes/espressos are easier.
  • We’re big on cello-bagging. Drop-offs, courier packages and mail all get packed in a cellophane package when received. So when our clients come to pick up their mail or when they receive the package we overnight to them, they have a wipeable, sealed packaging before they dig into their mail and packages.

Show we care. Extra empathy towards clients and team members is of utmost importance. This is, no doubt, a difficult and uncertain time for everyone. There’s no way to know exactly what everyone is going through, but there are many ways to have empathy and compassion for clients and team members.

  • When we send mail we often add a little something. This has ranged from tea to protein bars to screen cleaners–whatever will lay flat in an envelope and spark a smile.
  • Unscheduled check-ins done through a phone call or video conference.
  • Sending cards, throwback pictures or articles to our clients regularly.
  • We’ve spent extra time on business introductions and thinking strategically about what may be most helpful to our clients at this time.
  • Allowing less pressure for our team on deadlines and more time to accomplish our core work rather than stretch goals.

Sensitivity towards others’ experiences and situations is something we value. We know a person who can be impatient on the phone or in person may be carrying a heavy load. They may be dealing with a loss, feeling the pressure of sharing a home workspace with kids, worrying about a family member or so many other things. It’s important that we be conscious of these underlying circumstances, even if they are not explicitly told.

Vigilance to COVID means wearing a mask and keeping a physical distance, but it also means looking out for one another in deeper ways.

Through their subscription to our business co-location services, our members have already prioritized a functional business location that runs with or without their physical presence.

A commercial address is easier to find via Google and can be used as needed, whether it’s to meet with a client in person or pick up a package. A commercial address also protects our clients’ privacy because they don’t need to make home office addresses public.
Our entire team embraces all of the protocols and procedures. Everyone jumps into action from wiping the door handles after incoming and outgoing traffic to opening windows in the offices and conference rooms after each use to wearing gloves when handling packages, and certainly wearing masks for in person interactions with team members and clients alike. Sounds basic, but all this does require vigilance, paying attention and operating as a unit. It is unbelievably rewarding to see that.

The work we’re doing to learn, implement and maintain procedures, safety and vigilance is hard work. It takes constant brain power and physical effort. It requires the team to be “always on.” We all feel it when the workday is over more than ever before.

I’ll close with this quote from President John F Kennedy
“We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

We celebrate those who are doing the right things during these unusual and difficult times. It doesn’t feel great to see businesses practicing superficial steps of safety or ignoring safety precautions entirely. Remember, integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

Ky Ekinci is a Co-Founder and the Managing Partner of Palm Coast based Office Divvy. As a professional who applies the principles of agile-startup and lean-management on a daily basis, Ky has built a true community for startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs in Palm Coast and Flagler County and beyond.

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