For the first time since March 7th, Executive Arrangements spent this past weekend introducing an out of town candidate to Cleveland. Wow it felt good to be doing something productive again. There are only so many days you can organize, clean, plan and strategize, then you need to execute!
The recruit was in town from Texas, eager to explore the neighborhoods, hear about our school options and understand the lay of the land as she considered a C-Suite job on the westside which would require this single mom with two school age children to relocate to Cleveland. Ten weeks between projects is not something any of us at Executive Arrangements have experienced before. And, while everyone in the world is in this same storm together, we are very aware that we are not all in the same boat. We were incredibly grateful to have a client who was willing to give EA the opportunity to test the waters with this first outing since coronavirus became a household name.
Once we knew we had a candidate eager and willing to get on a plane to come explore Cleveland, our team immediately began creating new protocols to insure her (and our) safety duing this global pandemic. Like many companies all over the world right now, we looked at every angle of our business with fresh eyes. So many things that we have just taken for granted as part of our Discover Cleveland/Akron experiences are not available including:
- School tours – she has children in 5th & 8th grades and lots of questions, but no schools are open
- Museums and attactions – Her family enjoys what big cities offer in the way of family entertainment, but with everything shuttered how give her a feeling for our city’s world class amenities like pro sports, world class museums and theater, the Rock Hall?
- Shopping & restaurants pockets – Only a handful of boutique shops and independent restaurants chose to open when the Governor eased restrictions. Many taking a wait and see approach as patios and malls open up slowly in this first wave. And the fact that it was 50 and drizzling on the first day outdoor dining was permitted didn’t help either.
- Connections to locals – Every candidate meets local community members who share common interests and backgrounds so they can vividly picture themselves here, talking to someone like them, first hand honest conversations with locals. But with social distancing still in place, how can we make that happen so all feel comfortable and safe?
We started at the beginning: re-designing the gift basket we send on the corporate client’s behalf to the hotel the day the candidate arrives:
- Gone are fresh fruit, the local bakery’s baguette and any other item that a germaphobe might look at suspiciosly and they are replaced by a blend of sweet and savory edibles, all in their orginal packaging, including locally sourced chocolate, cheesy popcorn, goat cheese & crackers, hummus & pita chips, figs….and because these are stressful times and we want this gift basket to double as either happy hour or dinner (dining options are so random right now) we also included a half bottle of champagne. Hey, the candidates are brave enough to get on an airplane during a global pandemic, this needs to be celebrated!
- We also added a face mask, hand sewn by my sister, Mary Sibyl Kress, who uses woven cotton and cotton ties (way more breathable and comfortable if you need to wear them all day long – espeically if you wear glasses) and can be washed and re-used so there is no landfill waste!
- A final nod to Covid-19 was a locally sourced 2 oz apothocary bottle of 80% alcohol spray, in a fresh scent (are we all sick of Lysol smell?) that can be used on hands or surfaces. And the small size gets it easily back thru TSA on return flight home.
Two of EA’s Project Managers, Annie DePerro and Jeff Moreau, eagerly accepted this first assignment, and our easy going candidate agreed to be EA’s beta test and offer feedback.
An infrared non-contact forehead thermometer was used to take everyone’s temperature at the start of the day and all verbally agreed that no Covid-19 symptoms were present. Remember the good old days when someone could just say hello, shake your hand and ask how your flight was the day before. Whole new world.
And while it is in my employee’s nature to be gracious hosts and showcase the famous midwestern hospitality our town is known for, for the time being, all candidates will handle their own luggage and open their own doors. It will take every bone in our body to control the urge to jump up to help, but we want everyone to be safe and feel comfortable!That goes for the bottled waters and snacks we used to provide in the car as well. Instead we will incorporate stops to get coffee or water as needed.
The vehicle they got into was not one of my staff member’s cars, as was typical in the past, but a rental car. The rental agenices have the ability to deep clean and sanitize cars to a much higher standard than my employees could at home. EA is absorbing that additional cost for the time being. Windows were kept open to have fresh air rather than recirculated air in the car. Everyone wore a face mask.
While most public places are closed, we walked into the West Side Market and the beautiful downtown Heinen’s grocery store under the old Ameritrust Tiffany glass inspired dome. We drove thru downtown and University Circle and described a typical non-Covid-19 day in these places. We meandered thru 1/2 dozen west side neighborhoods showing public parks, school campuses, rec centers, beaches, shopping pockets and restaurant districts. Texas is still pretty closed down also, so she understood!
Jeff cleverly chose a westside restaurant with a hard top cover on their patio as skies were threatening. Tables were 6′ apart and the meal was delicious. We found a community guest who lived nearby and had children about the same ages as the candidate and she joined the lunchtable. Lively conversation ensued and the recruit was able to hear first hand, mom to mom, what life could be like for her and her children in one of the suburbs she was considering.
A worldwide virus can not stop the 40 year old, best in class service that Executive Arrangements provides. This past weekend Jeff & Annie helped us live one of our company’s core values: People Over Computers. While we recognize the value of technology, nothing beats a live conversation with a human being.
The feedback from our corporate client and the candidate were incredibly positive. Of course there will be tiny tweaks after every orientation as we learn new best in class ideas and my co-workers all begin to share ideas on how to make these days impactful and productive for candidates and their significant others.
We already have several other candidates on the books for June who are eager to fly or drive in and explore the town with our staff, but for those who are less comfortable, we offer lots of virtual only services to help educate them about the quality of life in Cleveland or Akron via video chats, phone conversations, our on-line portal and more. More info on that here. That being said, nothing beats the in person, boots on the ground orientation where, in just a day or two, EA Guides can vividly show a candidate how easy life could be in NE Ohio.
To show support and love for the two EA staffers that were willing to explore this brave new world for the first time since Covid-19 arrived, each staff member took a selfie in their facemask and sent them to Jeff & Annie to acknowledge that EA is getting back to work and we are all here to support each other. I wanted to share those co-worker’s photos with the world as I was so proud of our team this past week.
Packing up everything you own and relocating to a new town where you have to start all over again is a huge life decision. Executive Arrangements is here to help you find the people, places and resources to quickly acclimate and settle into your new town. Ask us any questions: [email protected] or call us at 216.231.9311.