How ELM is managing the COVID environment

A guest editorial highlighting how a Jacksonville planning, architecture, and landscape architecture firm is managing change due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Guest editorial by Steve Lovett

Home office of Steve Lovett, ELM Partner and Co-Founder

It’s safe to say that none of us ever expected to experience a global pandemic, nor did we have any idea how disruptive it might be to the most routine aspects of our lives. The public health imperative to stay at home has changed everything. Our dining room tables have become home offices, kitchen counters are classrooms, and spare bedrooms are home to extra family members who have chosen to quarantine together. Terms such as “social distancing”, “flatten the curve”, and “shelter-in-place” have become regular parts of our lexicon. Everyone has been forced to adapt.

Our firm, ELM Ervin Lovett Miller, is no exception. Thanks to focused partners, a talented and committed staff, and loyal clients, we continue to function – and function well, adapting to the challenges that COVID-19 has presented to us all.

We’ve joked that the firm has expanded in this time, enjoying explosive growth from ELM’s Studio Office on Kings Avenue in Jacksonville’s emerging Southbank District to 16 new offices throughout Northeast Florida!

Fortunately, in recent years we’ve made considerable investments in project management tools, collaboration systems, and a comprehensive operational platform that has made our working lives much easier. We use video conferencing tools many times each day to remain closely connected. Our team of 19 professionals continues to function as a singular unit with our focus still squarely on providing creative, technically excellent planning, architectural, and landscape architectural work for our clients. Just as important (maybe even more so) we continue to have fun together – separately.

Early in my career this would’ve been a near-impossible challenge, but advances in technology and the firm’s investments in resources enable us to hardly miss a beat. Beyond that, ELM’s talented and committed team makes it all possible.

Our priority in this time of anxiety and change is to keep as much of our working experience as close to normal as possible. Our weekly staff meeting, “The Monday Brief”, occurs just as it has for nearly twenty years, now over video feeds instead of a conference table. We’re sharing pictures and videos of our families and exchanging images of our takeout lunches (in support of the local restaurants that we all love). This week, our monthly Thirsty Thursday happy hour is moving online from the usual destinations of Aardwolf Brewery, Intuition, or other popular after-hours hangouts. We’re grateful for the camaraderie that exists within our team and between the firm and our clients, consultants, and other industry partners.

I’ve always considered the genuine joy that we share in working together to create special places and our strong belief in enduring relationships to be the greatest difference between ELM and other firms. We’ve been fortunate to attract a team with considerable talent and positive personalities. Please remember to check in with friends, family, colleagues, and loved ones. While it’s important that we are physically distanced, it’s equally critical that we don’t become socially isolated.

No doubt we all can’t wait for life to return to normal, where we can once again enjoy handshakes, hugs, and time together. In the meantime, we’re delighted to introduce you to some of ELM’s new offices and to acknowledge and congratulate the people who have made this ambitious expansion possible!

With Compliments,

Steve Lovett Partner - ELM | Ervin Lovett Miller

Guest editorial originally published here.