LSW Architects aims to stay safe, well and keep business going

The company started transitioning to remote functions on March 16, now working at home offices

LSW staff collage
Courtesy of LSW Architects

According to Brent Young, associate principal with LSW Architects in Vancouver, the company’s success in Clark County has been two-fold – “One is from embracing our role in the success of Clark County and the second is from how our clients and consultants recognize how are firm’s values guide everything we do.”

“LSW has a unique relationship with Clark County that is built on strong relationships and commitment to our community’s prosperity,” Young said. “We find that our clients have strong vision for the future and enjoy that we can contribute by applying our creative skills to their vision.”

When Vancouver-area businesses began to feel the impacts of COVID-19 back in March, LSW was no different and started transitioning to remote functions on March 16, and since March 23 staff have been directed to stay away from the office, said Young. He said they are now working at full capacity from their home offices.

“Several of our staff are engaged in construction administration services for essential projects,” Young said. “For these we are doing remote site visits with the contractor providing photographs. For projects that we have to actually visit the site, we are managing a sign in/sign out sheet for all LSW/consultant staff. We practice social distancing and wear masks and eyewear. The contractor walks around with a six-foot long stick to remind people what six feet looks like.”

Staying well has also been one of the top priorities for the staff at LSW during this time. Young said weekly cadence and content of standing meetings is unchanged, and on Mondays the entire firm gathers together on Zoom. They also have a standing happy hour on Fridays after work. Three days a week there is online yoga, nutrition and wellness program during the workday. Young said their weekly LSW “what’s happening” update is now issued digitally, and their evening book club on architecture and design is still going every other Thursday. Online resources for health, wellness and fitness are disseminated to the staff, and Young said staff members are paid up to eight hours for community volunteering.

Although the company has definitely had to make some adjustments based on the current climate, Young said there have been no delays in their production from the stay-at-home order.

“Everyone in the office has access to their work computer via the internet and has hardware necessary to operate the demanding graphics programs we run,” Young said. “We have become very proficient in communicating through Zoom, Teams, phone and email.”

Young said two of the staff – CFO/HR and IT – are in office all day (following separation protocols) so service scans, technology needs and any other in-office needs can be met. The company has introduced daily meetings for teams to touch base, and standing meetings such as staff meetings, project management and leadership meetings have all switched to a digital format. Payroll and invoicing has also all switched to 100% virtual. Young said they also have a form letter specifying authorized trips for essential travel – usually construction site visits.

Young said they have even on-boarded one new staff member since going remote, and “she’s up and running without ever stepping foot in the office.”

LSW Architects was first started back in 1955 and started out with only one employee. The company now has 53 employees and has seen a 30% increase in revenue over the years.

“LSW is going to continue and expand our participation in local investment,” Young said. “We are also going to continue focusing on diversification in our workforce, markets and services. We are also in the midst of refining all of our processes to be more efficient and effective, and to better serve our clients.”

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.