People, Projects, and the Pandemic: What COVID Reveals About Company Culture

It’s spring and the air is full of renewal and optimism. Life is opening up again, vaccinations are accessible, construction is booming and the darkness of COVID is falling further and further behind us. Dare we say, the worst is over?

We’re finally in a place where we can reflect on all that has happened over the past 14 months. The resiliency and courage of our people here at Wise have allowed us to survive this unprecedented time. It is often thought that how a company handles a challenge on a jobsite is a true litmus test of their character and values. Similarly, there is a lot to be learned about a company’s culture and values based on how they handled the challenges of COVID.

The Wise COVID Response

Going back to March 2020 brings us to a time when life for all of us changed permanently. Jobsites across Boston and Cambridge were shuttered. Nearly all of Wise’s jobs—over 70 projects—were halted and everyone on our jobsites and in the office was sent home to lockdown. Numerous companies stayed afloat by choosing to furlough or lay off employees. Having never done a layoff in our 35-year history, this simply was not an option for Wise. Leadership knew that in order to survive, we needed to protect our core—our people. We did not institute any salary or bonus cuts, furloughs, layoffs or benefit reductions or hardships. During this time of uncertainty, it was essential to leadership to make our longstanding employees feel secure and cared for.

Beyond the protection of our employees, our teams sought ways to aid and support our clients. Being focused extensively in healthcare and biotech, many of our clients were on the COVID frontlines including Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Institute, Pfizer, and Moderna. We donated PPE and over 100,000 masks to help them during the time when these critical items were scarce. We took on an advisory role with our hospital clients to help them in the planning for surge capacity, including added patient beds, site analysis and evaluating prefabrication techniques to expedite these critical build-outs.

When it came time to return to our job sites, we were at the ready and ahead of the curve with safety practices in place. Wise’s safety steering committee worked around the clock to develop Return to Work protocols that adhered to state and municipality guidelines. Before anyone returned to the jobsite, we held mandatory virtual trainings with all of our subcontractors to ensure they were well acquainted with the protocols. We started returning to our jobsites in April armored with over 60 hand wash stations, custom built by Tidal Creeks Boat Works; a robust COVID Safety Plan; thorough disinfection procedures; and with fully trained teams. Our proactive approach to safety paid dividends. In the past year, we had less than 5 lost days due to COVID.

We Remain Wise

Never before has there been a more complex challenge to a company’s culture than COVID. At Wise, we preserved our core—our people—and this gave us the resiliency and wherewithal to come out on the other side of this pandemic stronger than before. Taking care of our people has always been intrinsic to Wise. The extenuating circumstances of COVID made it difficult, but we protected our people at all costs. We are proud of this aspect of our COVID story. It reveals so much about our special culture and how we always remain Wise.

When evaluating your partner for your next project, ask them about their COVID story. What actions did they take? What did they protect? What were they willing to sacrifice? Let this be your litmus test and be sure to ask yourself and your team, is this the type of partner we want to work with?


Interested in joining our great team? Check out our latest job openings here.