Adapting Your Work Environment to Better Serve Clients

By Colliers Engineering & Design
Part 1 of GIS 123

As our company has grown and transitioned, so has our GIS department expanded, enabling us to better serve our clients. We are presenting GIS-123, a 3-part series of blogs focused on the personal perspectives of GIS employees. They work directly with clients from the field and in the office, wherever that may be.

If you need a GIS refresher, we have an ultimate guide you can check out here.

For GIS-1, we interviewed a remote employee who spends his time working entirely in the client’s location. James “JR” O’Hara works for a major energy client in New York.

Why Be Entirely On-Site?

Before the pandemic, JR worked from 8:00 AM-4:30 PM in the client’s office. He had a desk of his own and worked side-by-side with their personnel. “My department at the client’s office consists of one other CED Supervisor and about 10 other project team members. This includes one of their supervisors.”

“I’ve worked for CED for year and a half, but I’ve only been into one of our offices once or twice,” JR explained. “The client had us working in their office to answer any questions about specific circuitry features. It is a lot easier to walk to their supervisors’ desks and show them than to describe them remotely.”

He continued, “Working on-site has enabled us to build relationships with the client’s personnel. We collaborated and problem-solved together. We also helped each other adapt to new technologies.”

Enter COVID-19

“Now, because of the pandemic, few people are going into the office every day,” he said.

How has he maintained connection with both the client and CED GIS teams with more people working from home? “The CED team has a weekly project team call with the client. And we have daily calls for project task briefing. I also have two email addresses, one for CED and one for the client.” He has a high volume of communication, so he doesn’t feel isolated working from home.

His Main Tasks

His workload? “The majority of my time is spent using GIS platforms ArcGIS 10.6 and ArcFM. These give me access to a lot of different electrical circuits and their data. The guidelines for circuits are constantly evolving, so a lot of what I do for the client is to update their circuits to be in compliance with the new guidelines. We also check that our resources match the client’s and the public records and contact the appropriate people if changes need to be made.”

Internally Motivated

JR is passionate about his work. He always knew he was interested in GIS, having gone to school for geography and GIS. He noted that being away from his coworkers doesn’t make him feel any less motivated, as he gets a lot of intrinsic value from his work.

His professional motivation has not been affected by being a remote employee. But what about his motivation to stay connected to the Colliers Engineering & Design culture? Before everything went virtual, he made an effort to join the company events like the annual holiday party and boat cruise around Manhattan. Now, he participates in all the virtual social events our firm has had.  “The GIS team at Colliers Engineering & Design has always done a good job of including me in everything that they do. They make an obvious effort to keep regular virtual contact with me to stay connected.”

JR O’Hara is as much a part of our company as the employee who comes to our headquarters every day. He represents us in every interaction he has with our client and is an excellent example of the diverse opportunities our employees and departments offer.

Stay tuned for our next segment of this 3-part series, where you will learn more about diversifying your skills. Questions? Please contact Suzanne Zitzman, GISP, Discipline Leader of GIS Asset Management Services at: suzanne.zitzman@colliersengineering.com.

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2 Responses to “Adapting Your Work Environment to Better Serve Clients”

April 07, 2021 at 4:36 pm, Suzanne Zitzman said:

JR O’Hara is a great asset to our team! His knowledge in the electrical GIS world has helped our client tremendously!

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April 08, 2021 at 12:36 pm, Mike Kolody said:

I was seconded to work at a client site for the first twelve years of my career before joining Colliers Engineering & Design. There are many pros and cons for all parties involved with this type of arrangement. The key for me was to always keep open and honest lines of communication with all parties. You have done a good job with this, keep up the great work JR!

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