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Gorman Richardson Lewis Architects


I think it was late January when we first heard mention of something called the Corona virus. It seemed to be limited to a remote province in China, and while certainly it was noteworthy, the terrible impact of the virus seemed distant and not particularly threatening to our well-being here in Central Massachusetts. We had no idea of the tumult that personal and business lives were about to face.

Fortunately, GRLA’s staff of 21 employees can be nimbler than many larger organizations. Our management team is lean, and all staff have been set up with remote work capabilities for quite some time prior to this pandemic. Based on CDC and Mass requirements and recommendations, we closed our physical office in Mid-March and shifted to 100% remote operations. We kept in contact with all our employees via email, on-line meetings, texts, and calls. We wanted to make sure everyone had the resources they needed, and we also wanted to know about their personal well-being. The virus upheaval affected our employee’s families and routines and we needed to be sensitive and accommodating and support them in any way we needed to.

As it turned out, I was diagnosed with Covid 19 and spent a few weeks in April at home recovering. Our management team stepped in and kept communications open and ensured projects were supported. Fortunately, no one else on our staff had been positively diagnosed and my recovery, while taxing, is complete. We have been functioning remotely for the past three months and will continue remote and limited on-site operations for the foreseeable future in accordance with Mass requirements.

While we had initial concerns about how effective we would all be on a remote basis, we have found that our productivity has actually increased, and our overall communication has improved. We have made it clear that we care about our employees as people first, and as workers second. We have online meetings that feature dogs barking or kids waving in the background and that is just fine with us. We are very proud of how our entire team has navigated the Covid crisis.

As we move forward towards a new normal, we fully understand that the needs of our clients have changed from pre-Covid perceptions and we are helping them adapt for the safety and well-being of their employees. I think the necessity of operating differently gives all businesses an opportunity to understand what they can do when entrusted with a new reality and see their people rise to the occasion.

Our staff, colleagues and clients have been equally rocked by the recent murders of people of color in our country and the long overdue demand for societal change. GRLA denounces racism and supports the Black Lives Matter movement, and similar to how our firm has incorporated the climate change crisis into our daily efforts, we are committed to listening and doing more to support this movement through the following:

  • Reviewing the partners we work with to ensure they are focused on the right side of this issue.
  • Redoubling our efforts to become more diverse and to combat racism in our workplace and beyond
  • Contributing to causes like Black Lives Matter, The Equal Justice Initiative, and related organizations.

It is heartening that people of all ages and backgrounds, from all corners of the US are now committed to making social and racial justice a priority. Our country’s democracy started with protests from the people to gain our freedom – it is time we successfully protest again to ensure everyone’s freedom.

We, as business leaders must care deeply about the well-being of our colleagues, customers, our fellow citizens, and our entire planet. Let us apply our credibility, our voices, and our platforms to influencing government policy and true reform to help end racism, ensure health and safety through this pandemic, focus on readily achievable climate solutions, and become true global citizens.

Scott Richardson