In anticipation of post-quarantine returns to office, Tractor Supply Co. is completing cutting-edge renovations to COVID-proof its headquarters.
The Store Support Center, as Tractor Supply team members call it, in Brentwood employs over 1,400 people who consider the team members working in actual Tractor Supply stores to be “frontliners” as a city would its emergency services according to Melissa Kersey, Chief Human Resources Officer. The renovation, she told Homepage, represents a “significant investment” on the company’s part to accommodate the disparate wishes of employees—10 percent of whom want to return full-time with 20 percent preferring to work from home and 70 percent opting to work part-time at home and part-time at the office.
“We’ve really invested in technology to make it as easy as possible […] while making sure we're going above and beyond at keeping safe,” Kersey told Homepage.
The renovation replaces the standard cubicle's walls with comparatively larger glass walls that inherently isolate employees yet allow them to see through said walls to still collaborate with each other effectively. Subtle color changes in the carpet from workstation to walking space to room entrances indicate spatial intervals of six feet to designate zones for social distancing. Wireless technologies and zero-contact entries are being introduced for entering and exiting spaces and boarding elevators.
The Store Support Center also now has a new HVAC system that specializes in ionization and purification, and all entry points to any space are now equipped with thermal scanners to quickly check temperatures, though wellness checks are also required before entering the building to screen for symptoms. Employees will also be given badges that are equipped with contact-tracing devices, which would allow the company to quickly trace a symptomatic employee’s contacts so that all of those people can be swiftly quarantined.
Tractor Supply was guided toward spending every dollar efficiently by consulting with Dr. Peter G. Matos, a “biologic surety” expert and consultant for select agent programs at federal facilities like the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pentagon’s Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System.
The 20 percent remaining completely remote is “ironically not all one thing, which I thought in my head going into this there were going to be certain jobs that could be fully remote and certain jobs that couldn’t be. […] We’ve seen it at all levels from VP to entry-level, call-center, hourly team members,” Kersey said.
The company determined via survey how many of its employees would be working from home versus from headquarters and enhanced its renovation plans to accommodate those preferences, which are still changing even as the autumnal return fast approaches. The survey was prompted after construction had already begun with a focus solely on safe practices because they were swayed by a LiveCareer statistic that about 29 percent of employees might opt to work elsewhere if compelled to return to the office. Résumé and job search consulting firm LiveCareer published the figure in January 2021 with the findings of their online survey of over 1,000 professionals.
The company plans to implement training for those returning to work whether full- or part-time to acclimate everyone to all the facility’s changes as well as the use of the CheckIn2Work app, developed by Texas-based Axiom Medical specifically as a COVID-19 screening program for employers.