05.06.20

Howard Building Corporation – Leadership in the Midst of a Crisis

Nobody could have predicted the sequence of events that occurred as a result of the Novel Coronavirus outbreak. Aside from major, irrevocable consequences caused by a virus that nobody had heard of just a few months prior, businesses across the world have been forced to adapt quickly. As a result, businesses and communities are rising to the occasion and demonstrating resiliency, courage, and fortitude in a situation where a straightforward solution is muddled underneath layers of “what-if” scenarios. There are truly inspiring stories of leaders who are facing the unknown head-on while providing stability to others in the midst of a global crisis. Here is how HBC’s employee-owners are navigating the coronavirus outbreak.

HBC’s regard for the safety of our staff, subcontractors, vendors, and clients will always be of paramount importance. To ensure the necessary precautions are being taken while continuing to provide the level of service our clients and industry partners expect from us, HBC formed a COVID-19 Task Force composed of HBC executives and managers. These company leaders are monitoring the situation as it develops, enacting guidelines from the WHO, CDC, and local city and county authorities while coordinating cohesive and timely communications internally and externally. The Task Force has created plans of action to respond to supply chain disruption, workforce depletion, and jobsite or office closures.

For the HBC jobsites that have remained open, our field leadership has been refining HBC’s field and site protocols as WHO and CDC guidelines evolve. This includes training for all Superintendents, daily communication, and signage accessible to all individuals onsite. COVID-19 trained staff are visually identifiable at every jobsite, as are handwashing and sanitizing areas, sign-in sheets, and face masks. Our field supervisors constantly perform site visits and, as required, additional supervision is added to help maintain appropriate social distance, especially on sites where elevator access is required to reach the work area. Technology is implemented, when possible, to perform virtual site inspections. As new information becomes available and as regulations change on a city-by-city basis, we have been leveraging our industry relationships to keep abreast of best practices. Additionally, HBC quickly mobilized an outreach effort to personally call all of our clients, industry partners, subcontractors, and vendors. Our outreach team was able to connect with over 500 companies to understand our industry partners’ concerns and figure out how to support them in this time of need.

Early on, our two office locations, Los Angeles and Costa Mesa, were also implementing safe practices including increased cleaning and sanitizing, along with providing visible COVID-19 signage. Once the “shelter in place” order was enacted, the office staff quickly adapted to a work-from-home model. Over the span of a few days, our IT department was able to provide necessary technology for over half of our employees.

This quick response and adaptability minimized downtime and has allowed our staff to quickly access everything they need to continue working. For those that desire additional assistance, remote work training is provided via HBCUniversity, a subsidiary of the Percipio learning platform. In collaboration with Tangram Interiors, a training series for both Zoom and Microsoft Teams equips HBC staff with the tools they need to be successful. HBC implemented a sophisticated e-signature software for all project management teams to keep projects going as smoothly as possible. Daily virtual meetings are conducted for each department along with continued and increased frequency of manager-to-staff formal check-ins.

While continuing to deliver to our clients, partners, subcontractors, and vendors, how have we been able to maintain the same tight-knit culture that has defined us for over 36 years? Simply by taking care of our family. By assuring our staff that they are supported by a strong group of like-minded employee-owners. By sending them flowers to brighten their day. Or by surprising them with a GrubHub gift card so they can enjoy a nice meal with loved ones. HBC understands the stress and volatility of the current situation, and we are thankful to be able to support our HBC family. Whether this means friendly check-ins from senior executives, weekly communication from the Wellness Committee, or happy hours shared over Zoom, the bonds that make up HBC are stronger than ever. There is still much work to be done, but this temporary rift in the status quo will only serve to forge us into a stronger company.

This article originally appeared on the HBC website here.

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