The Next Normal: Returning to the Workplace
Collaboration and technology keep customers safe and informed
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact across the world. At QuadReal, we witnessed office and retail tenants distanced from their workplaces, colleagues and resources. The beginning of this new decade has required flexibility, collaboration and trust as we—as a community—navigate uncharted waters together.
This summer, as businesses and buildings started slowly to open their doors across Canada, we recognized the importance of partnerships in how we approached the ‘next normal.’ At QuadReal, the challenges were twofold: to balance being prepared with being adaptable and to balance our need for connection with the requirements to keep each other safe. We also had to find innovative ways to keep our customers informed and involved as we move through this next phase as partners.
To ensure a safe return to the workplace for those ready to come back, we leaned on input from in-house and industry experts and on technology. Our cross-functional team—consisting of property managers, technical and technology specialists, and senior executives—worked in concert with service providers, local health authorities, and industry colleagues and organizations to develop a strategy for protocols and procedures that could adapt to a changing COVID-19 environment. The team took a two-pronged approach that included both personal communication and digital technologies.
I’m really impressed with how QuadReal is communicating with tenants as more people return to the workplace. It is obvious that they are focused on extra cleaning and taking extra precautions to keep tenants as well as the Park Place employees safe. Here at Park Place in Vancouver, there is always a property employee in the lobby with extra masks, hand sanitizer and a welcome-back smile.
The first tool, published in May 2020 and updated regularly since then, is a guide for tenants to help their employees return to the workplace when ready to do so. It addresses not only the protocols that promote building health and safety, it also acknowledges the anxieties employees may be feeling as they begin to return to the office and aims to reduce them. It outlines all the steps QuadReal is taking to keep tenants safe.
Explore the playbook and read more about QuadReal’s strategy for returning to the workplace: Better Together: A Playbook to Support You in Returning Employees to Your Workplace.
The second tool is a new tenant application: QuadReal+. This app was already under development when the pandemic was declared; however, the Digital Innovation team accelerated its design and launch to provide our tenants with real–time communication, access to property information— including the Return to Workplace Playbook—and interactive events to keep customers engaged. In addition, the app provides a digital way for property teams to connect even more seamlessly with occupants of our buildings and provide services from just about anywhere as everyone works to fatten the curve.
QuadReal+ also provides an opportunity to support our food, beverage and service operators in new ways. Using the app, our customers can easily order lunch, check which retailers are open at their property and browse through different sales and promotions retailers may be offering.
Also available through the QuadReal+ app is our monthly newsletter, The Quad, in which local teams share much-needed good news stories, spark conversation and bring people together through virtual events and activities such as gardening workshops and yoga sessions.
After launching in September, hundreds of customers have downloaded the QuadReal+ app and are using it as a tool for communication as they begin returning to the office. The Return to Workplace Playbook has also been well received and has been viewed over 2,000 times on the QuadReal website. Attendance has been high at our virtual interactive events such as wellness seminars, and customers have expressed their appreciation for our continued communications regarding returning to the workplace. For those who have returned to our offices, there has been high compliance with health and safety protocols, such as social distancing and the wearing of masks.
As we move forward in our next normal, our priority is to continue providing customers with up-to-date information regarding safety in our buildings, while also maintaining connections through regular virtual touchpoints and making them as personal as possible. As we navigate these unprecedented times together, QuadReal’s focus will continue to be service excellence and our customers’ continued health, safety and wellbeing.
The Next Normal: Returning to the Workplace Case Study (PDF)