The COVID-19 pandemic is leaving an indelible mark on the way we think about public health and safety, public spaces and the built environment as a whole.
At Gresham Smith, we have a history of tackling challenges by using our Genuine Ingenuity to arrive at solutions that are creative, innovative and workable. We have designed this page to help define the conversation—about where we go from here, what the road (or roads) may look like, and what we need to be thinking about along the way. We invite you to explore with us.
How We Can Help
We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting each market, project and community in unique ways. Regardless of what those impacts may be, we provide specialized engineering, design and planning expertise to help our clients define a clear path forward during these uncertain times.
The air transportation industry is certain to experience a shift as airports seek ways to reduce passenger congestion and risk of exposure, both at security checkpoints and throughout the terminal. Whether it’s implementing biometric and touchless technologies, reworking the layout of existing airports, or rethinking passenger flow, our aviation expertise can help address specific needs while enhancing passenger experience. See our aviation work.
There are several challenges facing the healthcare industry—from modifying or expanding existing hospitals to increase capacity, through establishing safer patient access, to developing external testing and triage centers. In addition to applying our industry knowledge to meet these needs, we also provide services geared toward adapting non-clinical spaces to serve as patient care centers. Learn more about our Healthcare practice.
States are beginning to reopen the economy, and their success will rest on the ability of businesses and industries to protect employees from possible infection. We can help develop return-to-office strategies that include temporary adjustments to workplaces to accommodate social distancing, the conceptualizing of new spaces that align with the needs of a remote workforce, and due diligence reports for real estate purchases as companies rethink their work environments. Learn more about our Workplace services.
Industrial & Manufacturing
As industrial and manufacturing clients consider how to maintain productivity while protecting worker health and well-being, we put our design and engineering experience to work to modify or enhance facilities, add health centers to existing plants, and adapt facility entry sequences for both materials and people. Learn more about our Industrial & Manufacturing expertise.
Efficient transportation systems will continue to be a cornerstone of our nation’s infrastructure. How we plan and operate these systems, however, is undergoing a change. For example, we recently helped one of our clients develop a virtual approach to public engagement in light of the “safer at home” guidelines. Our expertise doesn’t stop there. Whether it’s developing a resiliency strategy, designing safer roads, incorporating active transportation strategies or filling staffing needs for state and local agencies, we stand ready to help. Learn more about our Transportation capabilities.
At Gresham Smith, the health and well-being of our employees, our clients and partners, and the communities we serve is a top priority.
Covid-19 Response Task Force
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, our Management Team—comprised of our CEO, COO, CFO and CSO—has been actively monitoring the latest information and guidelines established by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), government health agencies, and industry peer organizations in order to assess and prevent the potential for transmission as a result of our activities.
Our firm has also established a coronavirus committee comprised of operations, safety, human resources, information technology and communications directors that meets regularly to ensure that we maintain an appropriate level of response. This includes ensuring that our employees have the necessary resources to work remotely without interruption of service to our clients, taking steps to enhance our cybersecurity measures, and providing flexible work schedules.
As the economy began to reopen, our committee established guidelines and policies for the safe return of our employees to the office while providing flexibility for employees choosing to continue to work from home.
Safeguarding our Employees, Clients and Communities
Early on, we instituted a proactive, robust approach, including but not limited to, the following:
- Institution of a work-from-home policy for all employees, effective March 16, with the exception of a limited number of essential staff. In the fall of 2020, we reopened our offices to employees who preferred to work in the office, but have continued to provide work-from-home options to all employees. This includes the establishment of guidelines enabling our employees to work flexible hours in order to balance individual needs with client and project responsibilities.
- Establishment of robust reporting, response and communication protocols to address instances where Gresham Smith employees are suspected or confirmed to be COVID-19 positive or have come into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus. Our protocols also encompass instances where building tenants who are not Gresham Smith employees test positive.
- Restrictions on non-essential business travel and restrictions on non-essential visitors to our offices.
- Development of strict protocols for employees and business-essential visitors who access our offices. These include requiring the use of facemasks, personal hygiene guidelines, and cleaning of common areas, such as conference rooms, both before and after use. We also implemented an electronic questionnaire requiring employees and visitors to certify that they do not meet established risk criteria before they can access the office.
- For employees working at project/field locations, we require adherence to client-mandated health and safety protocols, but we also have established procedures to safeguard employees who interact with clients or partners whose policies may not be as stringent as the firm’s.
- Extensive, regular communication, including video messages from our CEO, work-from-home best practices, health and wellness, the latest government guidelines, and our COVID-19 related policies.
- Establishment of a dedicated COVID-19 intranet portal site that contains important links, answers to frequently asked questions, guidelines for reporting potential infection, and medical resources from our firm’s healthcare provider. We have also launched a Return-to-Office digital guidebook that houses information on our latest protocols and standards.
- Feedback tools to ensure that employees are receiving the information and resources they need to comply with our policies.
Robust Work-from-Home Infrastructure
Gresham Smith already had a robust technology infrastructure in place prior to the coronavirus pandemic, which has allowed our staff to seamlessly transition to remote work without the need to access our office locations for files and hardware. This has enabled us to communicate with and continue to provide the same level of service our clients have come to expect from our firm. As a result, we have been able to take a thoughtful, measured approach regarding when, and how, our workforce will return to the office.
We continue to monitor the latest developments and are ready to respond accordingly.
“Airports will have to thoughtfully evaluate each step of the passenger journey to establish an environment where people feel safe to fly again. While the use of technologies like biometrics and touchless experiences will increase, a combination of near- and long-term thinking is needed to address the physical, logistical and financial implications on airport operations.”
Wilson Rayfield, AIA, LEED AP
Executive Vice President
“When the pandemic is under control, it’s unlikely we will pick up where we left off. Health systems will be faced with a myriad of choices for how to best move forward with their future approach to healthcare.”
Jim Langlois, AIA, LEED AP
Executive Vice President
“The feedback we’re receiving from clients has centered around greater flexibility for where and when employees work. Face-to-face interaction reigns as the first choice for collaborative interaction, but new tools offer additional opportunities for remote collaborations and business continuity.”
Jack E. Weber, IIDA, MCR, LEED AP
Senior Vice President
Corporate + Urban Design
“Designing facilities that maintain productivity while protecting workforce health and safety is going to be a high priority moving forward.”
David Verner, RA, NCARB
Executive Vice President
“Traffic Management Centers may need to be reconfigured in order to allow for proper social distancing and public engagement meetings will need to take place virtually.”
Kent Black, P.E.
Executive Vice President