Back to Work—and Working Differently

Chicago Scenic is working differently these days – and only part of that is about pandemic safety protocols, social distancing, masks, and hand sanitizer. We’ve stepped up all of those and more, of course, and consistent with CDC guidelines to protect employees, clients, and guests.

But there’s something else going on around here—and it’s about how we’re collaborating with clients and among ourselves – across client teams, departments, and job functions.

Yes, as with so many organizations, the pandemic shutdown turned everything into remote work at first. But as we’ve come back to work in recent weeks, our teams have embraced digital tools more actively for collaboration—everything from Microsoft Teams, Zoom etc. to digital file sharing and using construction management software tools like Procore more aggressively.

“Perhaps like many companies, we wondered how to gear up again and still stay safe around the COVID-19 threat,” said Blasko Ristic, president of Chicago Scenic. “But the reality has been eye-opening. We have teams on job sites and in the shop using digital communications tools like never before—embracing everything from Teams to Procore – and to great results,” he added.

As the debate unfolds across the business world about the future of the office and how people will work together from now on, we’re getting down to brass tacks in launching new projects and moving existing client work forward in new ways.

Our work for the new studio set for the new national news program, WGN America’s News Nation is a prime example. That project was roughly 14 weeks long – which is quite aggressive – and had huge collaboration challenges between Chicago Scenic and the other fabricator on the job (Showman), and between us and the numerous sub-contractors. Add a pandemic to that mix and we were looking at a situation that required very close coordination and excellent project management—all that relied heavily on the digital tools (and others) discussed here.

On the WGNA project and others over the past few months, we’ve changed some of our project management processes to adapt to the current constraints around physical collaboration. For example, reviewing drawings and samples digitally and also documenting work on a daily basis for review by remote means is stepped up considerably and has been very effective. Also, we’re changing some job roles to fit the new remote collaboration – and to allow for both training and for flexibility in meeting client needs.

“Chicago Scenic has always risen to the latest and greatest challenges—and in doing so we’ve embraced the latest tools and technologies required to get the job done,” said Bob Doepel, founder and chairman of Chicago Scenic. “But the difference this time around comes down to the types of tools: We’re not using these new tools to make things, as such, we’re using them to help us communicate and collaborate across distances, to do excellent work, and to keep our teams and clients safe,” he added.

Back to Work—and Working Differently