COVID-19 quickly disrupted the workforce and workplace throughout the United States. In a matter of weeks, bustling buildings became near ghost towns as tenants swapped their commutes into the office for the new normal of working from their homes. Knowing the migration back to the workplace would be anything but normal, Forcade helped AmTrust create a safe and comforting return-to-work experience for tenants across all 14 of their properties.
It was a design purpose project with an important purpose. Every single element was created to enable AmTrust’s tenants to move confidently forward beyond the quarantine phase of the pandemic.
AmTrust was taking a very proactive approach to preparing for the return of their tenants. We worked with them to develop a 3-phase Today/Tomorrow/Future plan and then created a comprehensive communications system to bring the plan to life. To help signify AmTrust’s deep commitment to their tenants during this important time, we branded the entire experience Forward Together.
Building a standalone brand specific to this project made the initiative feel more human and compassionate. It helped bring Amtrust and their tenants closer together, further solidifying their relationships today and as they move forward in the future.
The uncertainty created by the ever-evolving status of COVID-19 required us to think far beyond just signage. We built a comprehensive communications plan that surrounded tenants with pre- and post-return information. Being fully transparent what AmTrust was doing and why they were doing it built optimism and trust with their tenants as they moved toward returning to work.
The first communication piece introduced the Forward Together brand to tenants as well as the 3-phase return-to-work plan. This high-level overview was designed to instill confidence in tenants that AmTrust was working diligently on their behalf.
The second communication touchpoint was designed to advise tenants about the specific changes they could expect when returning to each AmTrust property. It was highly informative, providing a detailed look at the new guidelines created to enable tenants to move through the space safely.
To help inform these early touchpoints, we built a survey tool designed to get direct input from the tenants. It was another way to show AmTrust’s commitment to working together with tenants on developing a plan that met everyone’s needs.
The next communication touchpoint was the in-building signage that helped returning tenants confidently navigate the new requirements designed to protect against COVID-19. Our signage system addressed every identifiable condition, from revolving doors to elevators. The signs were simple and informational, enabling people to easily follow the important instructions. But they were also highly “human” in their look and feel, helping to soften the emotional response people naturally have to a disruption to normalcy.
The final communications in this comprehensive plan was a downloadable toolkit available to each tenant. It provided Forward Together signage that tenants could print out and use within their own spaces. This helped their staff move seamlessly and safely not only through the common areas of AmTrust’s buildings, but also throughout their own workspaces.
Throughout this project we had to overcome several logistical challenges. The most substantial was creating a single signage package that could be used across 14 properties that had significantly different space and building material considerations. To make the challenge even more difficult, we had never been to, nor could we visit, 13 of the 14 properties due to lockdown restrictions in the different states and cities where the buildings are located.
This required an entirely deeper and different level of communication with our client contact and individual building managers, working in close partnership to ensure the system we designed worked within each space. Daily client collaboration sessions brought everyone together, allowing us to move fast and efficiently, and to more easily adjust to the daily-changing COVID-19 guidelines in each location.
We used materials that were easy to install since we couldn’t be on location at 13 of the properties and had to rely on building staff without signage installation experience. The one location we could be on-site for the install was used as a helpful example for the others to follow. We also had to ensure all signs were easy to remove without damaging the disparate materials in the different locations.
This project was unique in so many different ways. The pandemic provided us with the opportunity to work even more collaboratively and cross-functionally with a client. Helping AmTrust connect a signage project to an entire brand and communications system brought them closer to their tenants and is a way of working that can benefit any property owner well past the pandemic.
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