Ask an expert on COVID-19: Managing the business of engineering with Sunondo Roy

Sunondo Roy provided expert advice to engineers and others involved in the business of engineering

By Sunondo Roy March 23, 2020

How is COVID-19 affecting aspects of engineering? Consulting-Specifying Engineer checked in virtually to ask engineers and building experts about how Coronavirus is affecting the business of engineering. Hear from Sunondo Roy, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, CCJM Engineers Ltd., Chicago. 

Question: What business practices has your engineering firm changed? This might include virtual meetings, online-only education or some other change for the staff.

Roy: As this outbreak is still developing in Chicago with few confirmed cases, our firm is not instituting any significant changes in business practices beyond standard policy for staff exhibiting cold and flu symptoms to stay at home and work remotely to the extent practical as health conditions permit. Additionally, we are encouraging employees to monitor the news and limit their movement in areas with known cases.

Question: How is your firm handling travel to visit clients or projects?

Roy: Again, considering the limited number of cases in the Chicago area, we are not limiting site visits or meetings at client sites. General rules of maintaining separation from others, avoiding handshaking hands and covering one’s nose and mouth if coughing or sneezing are valid as a baseline of infection control.

Question: What new ways is your team virtually traveling to trade shows, conferences or events? Where are you finding success?

Roy: We are not promoting discretionary work travel at this time. Air travel and large group meetings are also discouraged.

Question: What supply chain issues are you experiencing? Is your firm dealing with any challenges with materials or products from manufacturers or suppliers?

Roy: None at this time as all office supplies are standard consumer goods.

Question: What advice do you have for other firms? What best practices would you suggest for working in an unsure environment?

Roy: The basic guidance for all firms and individuals should be to read and stay abreast of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines for COVID-19. What is important to know is that even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines are evolving as this is a novel corona virus (i.e., new strain) and the modalities of incubation, transmission, duration and severity are being updated almost daily on their website. As such, the baseline has to be common sense hygiene and infection controls (washing hands frequently, use of hand sanitizers, maintaining 6 feet separation as much as practical, staying home when feeling a cold or flu coming on), etc.

Author Bio: Sunondo Roy is a vice president at CCJM Engineers Ltd. He is a member of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer editorial advisory board.