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The consultant’s view: Laura Lentz FCSI

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We have all had to learn new behaviors during the pandemic. Laura Lentz FCSI outlines how she has changed her ways to get through the year

“Like sands through an hourglass, so are the days of our lives…” I’m of the generation that was getting home from school just as the show Days of Our Lives was on TV, and I couldn’t help but think of this line when trying to describe 2020.

So, what is our company doing during Covid-19 and what types of things have we faced and struggled with? What will come in the future for how we do business? Will salad bars come back? how will our sizing models change? There are so many questions right now and trying to pin them down is just impossible, so we are learning to work with moving targets. I’ve treated each project individually for timing of the construction, particulars of the design, etc. and have reached out to each client to determine what, if any, changes need to be made.

My first real venture out into the business world was in the late summer. Though only 60 miles from my house I decided it would be best to stay in a hotel for the duration of the one-week project in order to minimize the risk of bringing Covid back home with me. joined up with Russ Benson FMP of DayOne Hospitality and fellow consultant Karen Malody FCSI from Culinary Options for a partnership project at the Architect of the Capitol. The silver lining was that the foodie in me had a wonderful time going out to some fabulous restaurants…at last.

Company protocol

I’ve had to re-think travel to some sites that were in “hot” spots. Aside from the risk of the travel, the quarantine rules in our state have affected what can happen with my children’s daycare. Suddenly what used to be a trip in and out to a project can require a two-week quarantine (non-negotiable with our daycare) and thus renders a trip virtually impossible.

We’ve had to excuse ourselves during project meetings where we weren’t comfortable. Initially, we developed a company project meeting protocol for dealing with Covid-19 and we would confirm acceptance with clients prior to attending any meetings. But in some cases, when we arrive at a site, they were not able to maintain best practice safety guidelines. In one case this resulted in an employee having to leave a punch list in order to remain safe due to others not wearing masks. As a company, we have tried to protect our project managers and coordinators, encouraging them to leave a site if guidelines aren’t maintained. We were able to address it with the client and return at a later day to complete the work safely.

We’ve gone to virtual punch lists as best and as often as we could. We developed a company procedure for conducting them and luckily with support from those at the project site we have been successful in completing a couple projects in this manner. I can’t say it’s my favorite method, but we are making it work. There is something so satisfying in seeing a project through to completion.

Every day is a gift

We’re trying to keep our employees, especially our principals, in their home offices and off the road as much as possible. We were remote working prior to the start of the pandemic (as a company commitment) and we are mindful that if we can prevent multiple employees from getting ill at the same time the better off we will be. Thus, we will continue to remote work through and after Covid.

I felt ashamed the other day when I found myself wanting to just get through the year as quickly as possible seeing each day go as fast as I can make it go. I quickly corrected that feeling by counting the blessings we have gained through this past year, reminding myself that every day is a gift. I think many of us feel torn and uncertain at times. But with patience and grace we will get through this and I will gladly raise that glass of Champagne on New Year’s Eve to ring in 2021.

Laura Lentz