Hi David, and thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. At MONTAG, we’ve been working from home for 17, 18, weeks now, and you’ve been a very valuable “first-responder” for our client service efforts, coming in to the office every day! As such, you’ve probably gotten a unique perspective on what this “ghost town” environment looks like, and I thought I would pick your brain on what you’ve observed and experienced.
— Steve Whittington, Business Development Director
Q1: Judging by our parking deck, how occupied is our building, really? (NOTE: MONTAG is located on the 25th floor of the Georgia Pacific building in downtown Atlanta)
A1: Really? There are many factors to consider in my guesstimate, but on average I’d say it’s five to ten percent occupied. To be clear, these are not lost jobs, but folks working from home.
Q2: Have you seen the building management company recreate the parking lot, building lobby, or elevator experience?
A2: Absolutely. The lobby has been entirely re-decorated in a COVID theme. All of the old lobby furniture has been thrown out to make room for a social distancing utopia. Social distancing dots have been placed on the floor. Stanchions have been placed outside elevator entrances for crowd control. Face mask and hand sanitizing kiosks have been created at the building entrances to welcome you. Signs are everywhere asking you to please turn away now if you’re experiencing COVID symptoms – which is like a stop sign 100 feet after an intersection.
Q3: Among your many tasks, you are responsible for ordering our office equipment. What are the things that you used to have to buy a TON of that you are not buying now? Paper? Water? Other?
A3: Chocolate, we are definitely consuming much less chocolate now. Conversely, we have added tons of face masks, gallons of hand sanitizer, and boxes of rubber gloves to our order list. Thank goodness Georgia Pacific owns our building, so no worries about paper products!
Q4: Do you find the phone traffic that you deal with is more, less, or the same?
A4: It’s about the same. We have an advanced phone system that allows calls to be transferred from the office to our working from home staff’s cell phones.
Q5: Anecdotally, what is the environment outside the office? Do you go out to lunch? Are places open? Are those experiences radically different?
A5: I don’t go out for lunch because unfortunately about 75% of restaurants nearby are closed. But, this has presented an excellent opportunity for me to bring a much healthier and more affordable lunch from home.
Q6: What is the most unexpected thing you’ve encountered during this time?
A6: Aside from the building maintenance staff exercising the plumbing on a weekly basis (it’s not possessed, they want to keep the water free of bacteria) we, as a firm haven’t skipped a beat in staying focused on our work, through all of the challenges we’ve been presented with.
Q7: Are there any “new” tasks that you’ve picked up as a result of this work from home time?
A7: Jackie Montag and Bill Lee have entrusted the care of our office plants to me. It’s a great responsibility, caring for so many lives, but I feel I’ve really stepped up to the plate.
Q8: How have you adjusted to the new tools, like Zoom, in your new work routine?
A8: Who knew that face level lighting and a high camera angle were so important to a good Zoom call? Oh, and the mute button. The mute button is very important. Always remember to mute yourself, except when talking, of course.
Q9: How is your commute, with so many fewer cars on the road? Or is traffic actually the same?
A9: Pre-COVID I took MARTA, but now driving, the traffic is definitely lighter.
Q10: Most importantly, have you sat in Ned Montag’s chair?!
A10: Ned’s chair to me is like his shoes, a personal item that I’m not interested in trying on. And metaphorically, I’m very happy not to have the responsibility of sitting in his chair or being in his shoes. I must say Ned and John have been excellent leaders during this unique time, protecting our health, while simultaneously protecting the commitment we’ve made to our clients. Our firm is very fortunate to have such great leadership.