October 5, 2021
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From October 4th through the 8th, we’re celebrating Customer Service Week by highlighting the dedicated professionals who have persevered through the pandemic and all its hardships. Host’s workplace experience experts work across the globe to create a seamless workday for everyone, whether they’re at home or in the office. One of those experts is LaToya Lawson, a Host working in CBRE’s Chicago office. We sat down with LaToya to get her perspective on her role, learn how the pandemic impacted her work and discover what people should know about the individuals who provide the services and amenities we rely on each day.


To kick things off, what would you say is your favorite part of what you do?

I’m so grateful that a part of what I do is welcoming people back to the office. Since so many of us have been away for such a long time, we really want to put people at ease and communicate that we’re not only still here to provide the services people need, but also a sense of calmness and a reassurance that everything will be okay. We hope they know we're here for them and that the office is up and running. It’s a big thing to come back in—people have been overwhelmed and some have experienced profound losses. Returning to a work environment and being around people again can be a little scary for some, so acting as a calming presence and letting people know the office is clean and safe is something we take pride in.


How has the experience of the pandemic affected how you approach customer service or hospitality?

One thing I’ve noticed is that people were initially quite hesitant to come back. With that being the case, whether in person or digitally, our team has done a lot of work to reassure them that we are fully open and that the space is safe. Also, if you're having any difficulties or problems, we’re always here—if you can’t come into the office that day or you’re working from home and you need assistance, we’ll take care of that, as well. Just because an individual isn’t in the office doesn’t mean they can't have an effective workflow. Giving our people options is important and we go out of our way to alleviate some of the daily pressures and stresses of the office. We want to offer people a little relief.

With that said, the pandemic has been particularly challenging. People are uncertain about everything; they’re less trusting and more cautious. There’s been some distance and it’s been more difficult to form workplace relationships. Because of this, a big part of our role lately has been to give the office a sense of day-to-day stability and consistency. People have been living with a lot of uncertainty and the constant thought of, “I don't know that it’s safe to be around others,” you know? We saw an uptick in people asking us to mail things out to them, for example, so they didn’t have to come into the space, or people wanting to do literally everything through email or Zoom. For a time, that lack of face-to-face interaction was especially tough. Getting the responses and confirmations you need, making sure everything is covered—it was a challenge because if someone’s in the office, they know exactly how and where to find us. We’re trying to get people back in the mindset that our services are always available to them, regardless of where they’re working.


What’s been the most notable experience in your time with Host?

While it isn’t one specific experience, I’ve really loved watching people reunite after not seeing each other for a long time. Seeing their eyes light up, the hugs, the smiles. Despite how hard everything has been since 2020, people are excited just to see each other again, and I think those small joys are helping us move toward something that feels more normal. I’m especially glad to see it because these interactions are so beneficial to a person’s mental health. You spend so much time with people at work, and when your coworkers aren’t okay or you’re not sure whether they’re okay, finally seeing them in person can be a huge relief. I’ve always viewed our office as an ideal place for connection and collaboration, and it’s good to see that finally returning. Most people are excited to be back and involved with their workplace community again.

It’s funny and not something I expected, but another thing I keep hearing about is how important our cold brew machines are to people in the office. We just brought them back not too long ago after removing them at the height of the pandemic, and now that they’re back, they’ve become our “office water cooler,” so to speak. Every day, it’s where people congregate and catch up, and it’s been a source for renewed conversation and connection—I love to see it.


As a customer service professional, what is the most important thing for people to know about what you do?

Customer service professionals are here to help you be effective and have a seamless day. It may seem like an obvious answer, but that’s exactly what we enjoy doing. I think people have lost sight of that somewhat as they come back to the office. For a while because of Covid, there was a sense that people had to own their work and remain in isolation. People have been less willing to delegate things to other people. But if you have ten things on your plate and you can give our team four—utilize us! We want your day to go smoothly as much as you do.

Connecting people with what they need is crucial because when everything shut down, a lot of businesses didn't recover. Some of our favorite partners and service providers no longer exist and we’re trying our best to get back on track and work with new partners people will love just as much. Most of our team comes from the hospitality sector and, because of that, we inherently see things in a different way. Most of all, we’re looking to make a noticeable impact on your contentment and well-being, specifically in a work environment. People want to feel comfortable and at their best when they come to the office. For customer service professionals like me, every day is all about making that happen.


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