In March 2020, the world screeched to a halt as we collectively assessed the impact of a global pandemic, all while adjusting to a new way of life both as employees and employers. For some, this took the form of setting up a makeshift office at the kitchen table while partners and/or children attended to their obligations virtually from the seemingly shrinking space of home. Others suited up for essential jobs outside of the home while wearing personal protective equipment and exercising extreme caution to avoid contracting COVID-19. For JLL, this was a moment of validation of a strategic move made several years prior – to acknowledge the important connection between people and places by bringing the Human Resources and Corporate Real Estate functions together within the HR organization. As such, in the Americas (AMR), the COVID-19 global pandemic gave JLL the opportunity to set the tone for corporate re-entry from a humanitarian perspective internally and also as a commercial real estate industry leader to the world.
This case study represents one of the four finalist submissions for phase two of i4cp's 2021 Next Practice Awards. View other Next Practice Award case studies.
In order to develop a successful AMR corporate re-entry approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, JLL was challenged to dramatically increase our support for the well-being of our employees; not a single person – frontline worker, people manager, business line leader, or CEO – was exempt from the personal and professional impact of such a change in daily life. However, JLL is a commercial real estate leader whose bottom line is predicated upon organizations employing people who sit in physical offices using office amenities. In addition, clients inevitably expected JLL to pioneer the path forward to safely reaching to the “new normal”. As such, JLL’s re-entry approach needed to simultaneously appeal to the human experience of the global pandemic while identifying re-entry best practices for our clients.
Solution – Scope & Innovation
While not all organizations immediately considered re-entry early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, the diverse nature of JLL’s service offerings made it impossible for 100% of AMR employees to work from home. Thus, a defining moment for JLL was the assembly of a cross-functional AMR Re-Entry Committee comprised of leaders from our Health & Safety, Human Resources, Legal, Commercial Real Estate, Marketing divisions and more. This committee operates as an army dedicated to building re-entry processes and policies, while mitigating the pace of changes impacting our people.
The AMR Re-Entry Committee focused intently on simplifying any process possible for employees and managers given the absence of simplicity in nearly every other aspect of life.
From an “operational” perspective, the AMR Re-Entry Committee drove:
- The creation of a COVID-19 case tracking tool with which all suspected cases were logged to inform leadership’s decision making about office openings and closures.
- The establishment of a complete suite of contact tracing materials including checklists, scripts for conversations with employees, email templates and training materials to ensure HR and managers could successfully mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 within JLL corporate offices.
- The assembly of an online COVID-19 resource center that housed all COVID-19 reference material to ensure that employees and managers always had the latest and greatest information at their fingertips from any location with an internet connection. This resource center also included a daily pulse survey to give leadership point-in-time feedback on employee sentiments.
- The creation of a re-entry playbook designed for office leaders outlining guiding principles, opening/closing criteria, checklists and templates to ensure safety and consistent communications.
- The creation of socially distanced floorplans in accordance with CDC guidelines.
- The introduction and adoption of new technology, including a desk/room reservation booking system in all offices to enable employees to return to their offices knowing they had a safe place to sit and the Healthy Return solution which helps clients assess their spaces, wellbeing and benefits offerings ahead of their own re-entry.
- A series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) documents designed for specific employee populations (i.e. by region, those within corporate offices) and for those experiencing specific circumstances (i.e. needing sick pay).
- A unique HR question intake tool dedicated to COVID-19 inquiries with a promise of a response from a subject matter expert within no longer than 24 hours.
- A “Taking Care of YOU” campaign that acknowledged and sought to ameliorate the nearly absent space between work and life by offering expanded caregiver support, resources for those struggling to pay bills amid the pandemic and a JLL Well-being microsite to address key issues faced in and outside of work.
- An expedited roll-out of JLL Virtual Learning, a suite of 15,000 online courses that operate as an extension of JLL’s Real Leadership platform, with content made available to active employees as well as those who were placed on leave of absence to ensure sustained career development during this challenging time.
- The conversion of our centralized Re-Entry Committee to one that empowered local managers to own re-entry using a suite of leadership tools, materials and communications templates.
From a “marketing” perspective, the AMR Re-Entry Committee drove:
- The creation of a Step Forward campaign designed to welcome employees back into JLL corporate offices amid the pandemic and set the tone for the “Next Normal”.
- The Step Forward campaign was designed to embody JLL’s consistent response to re-entry – honest, uplifting, compassionate, and progress-oriented, while preparing employees with “know before you go” communications.
- Step Forward Campaign marketing materials included signage (general safety statements, restroom signage, social distancing and face-covering reminders), email headers and social media marketing tools.
Given JLL’s own calling to blaze the trail in AMR corporate office re-entry, the organization was well-positioned to offer the best of its learnings to its clients who would also soon be faced with the same re-entry questions. JLL capitalized on the opportunity to help clients revitalize their businesses as they took a step forward into a new and different world by developing a (re)-entry framework with three pillars: (re)-activate space, (re)-spect health & wellness, and (re)-vitalize property & workplace operations. This framework was rolled out to clients along with a “how to” guidebook on re-entry and short roadmaps to (re)-entry designed to be adaptable to each client’s needs. JLL also rolled out its (re)-imagine resource hub on JLL.com, which included webinars, research from JLL’s internal research team and other leadership resources.
Results & Impact
Since the beginning of the pandemic, JLL’s re-entry approach has enabled 11,000+ AMR employees assigned to a corporate office to safely re-enter 158 corporate offices across the region, signifying the success of JLL’s re-entry program. Other re-entry wins include:
- 4,385 AMR cases tracked in the COVID-19 case tracking tool (largely community transmitted vs workplace related)
- 2,000+ HR, business line and people managers trained on JLL’s contact tracing toolkit
- 100+ AMR specific Frequently Asked Questions created
- 369 questions answered via the unique HR question intake tool
- Daily pulse survey data indicated an increase from 77% to 87% in employee confidence in JLL’s plan to manage re-entry over the critical first three months of the pandemic
- 40,000+ JLL virtual learning courses taken
- 10,000+ unique visitors to JLL’s Wellbeing hub
- 8,000+ participant hours spent focused on supporting employees mental, physical and financial well-being
- 58% of AMR employees safely re-entered a JLL office at least one day per week by April 2021
And the most important outcome of all: Not a single COVID-19 outbreak in a JLL corporate office.
While the workplace may look different today, JLL’s April 2021 People Survey suggested that over 80% of employees want to be back in the office informing our belief that employees will re-enter their workplaces when the time is right. For JLL, this represents a critical opportunity to not only continue to hone its own “people first” approach to corporate re-entry, but also to continue to help clients embed and adopt this same mindset. As we enter the second half-of 2021, JLL looks forward to continuing to shape the future of real estate for a better world by pioneering the workplace of the future.