Reimagining workplaces: Geist resident’s company provides guidance through pandemic


Relocation Strategies helps companies use its space efficiently and economically.

Relocation Strategies CEO and owner Melissa St. John said the company has taken on a new mission since the coronavirus pandemic forced many to work at home starting in mid-March.

“We are in the business of helping people reimagine their workplace,” the Geist resident said. “So many of our clients have been in so much of a fog. They’ve been getting so much misinformation all over the place.”

So, the Indianapolis transition management company created a survey and sent it to clients, business leaders, vendors and staff though an email blast. 

“I think it was a great cross section,” she said. 

The survey, conducted the week of June 8, drew 215 responses and revealed 23 percent of their employees felt less productive, 32 percent indicated they felt a higher productivity rate at home and 45 percent said the productivity was the same.

The survey said 43 percent would want to work in the office three days a week while 29 percent would like to work from home the entire time.

Among those polled, 49 percent said offices could stay the same, 16 percent said offices should be reduced and 35 percent were not sure what change is necessary. 

“It’s tangible and it’s going to help people make good decisions,” St. John said of the survey. 

A major thing that stuck out to St. John is that more than 50 percent of respondents are unclear what their new office space or “new normal” will look like. St. John recommends companies poll their staff to determine each individual department and each individual need. St. John said some employees might have child care issues or have to take care of a parent.

“One of our first questions was how many people were actually productive at home,” St. John said. “Employers need to embrace that there are going to be other tools out there where we can track productivity.”

Fishers-based DMC Insurance Chief Information Officer Tim Russell, who has worked with Relocation Strategies in the past, took part in the survey as a longtime customer.

“We’ve been taking some steps to prevent the potential threat of COVID-19,” Russell said. “We have not overly changed our office environment. We’ve reduced the number of chairs and tables, doing additional cleaning and providing PPE (personal protection equipment) products. We’ve not done any cubicle or offices changes yet. The survey gave us additional things to think about. (Relocation Strategies) has provided articles for us to read.”

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Kimberly Bostic hangs art in a reimagined workplace.

Varying needs

Relocation Strategies can help businesses adjust with reconfiguration and renovation or a relocation. St. John said some companies might seek less space with people working at home and others still might need more space.

“We learned it’s not one-size-fits-all,” she said. “It has to be customized to your business and what your situation is with your workers.”

Relocation Strategies has developed a Workplace Productivity Analysis to help navigate the challenging times.

“There are people that are head-down thinkers and they need complete silence when crunching numbers,” St. John said. “They might need to be in an office or have higher (dividing) panels. Then there are the people who want to be in a group and collaborate. If people are productive and feel like they are going to get things done, then they are going to be engaged. We need to get our economy back. We need to have companies be profitable. I’ve never been a fan of the open office, one-size-fits-all. That was the way people were cramming everyone in and saving money on real estate. That is going to come back to bite them.

“You can’t cram 300 people on a floor with no panel separation.”

St. John said there are several articles where the open office concept that companies embraced doesn’t fit every business.

“You couldn’t concentrate, so therefore the productivity went down and employee engagement went down,” she said. 

Many companies are getting rid of training rooms around the nation because Zoom has been so effective.

St. John said she is passionate about helping people be safe, being productive and being engaged.

“When all those things happen, you are going to raise your revenue,” she said. “It’s not about cramming people into the space. We are going to have to be more thoughtful, more deliberate. We have to rethink, reimagine, reinvent the workplace. That’s just the bottom line.”

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