A COVID-19 Silver Lining: Renewed Faith in CitiesAdaptability

By Mackenzie Krott – One Stop Operator, Philadelphia Works

Cities are organic. They continuously reinvent themselves, and disasters often drive their change.

Take Christchurch, New Zealand. When over 800 buildings were destroyed after a deadly earthquake in 2011, the public rightfully feared tall buildings and crowded spaces. Urban designers realized that public spaces needed to reflect this fear of density. They quickly created safe pop-up areas around the city and found new ways to use large public spaces like parks and single-story establishments. While reeling from disaster, Christchurch residents got out to enjoy their city.

How are cities adapting to the pandemic?

  • Increased access for pedestrians and cyclists—In a park-less neighborhood in Queens, 34th street was closed to traffic and turned into a public promenade. Paris plans to add 400 miles of pop-up bike lanes. London, seeing a five-fold increase in pedestrian numbers, is widening sidewalks and closing streets to cars to allow for large pedestrian walkways.
  • A push to decrease car use—“The longstanding tension between those who see cars as evil and those who see cars as essential has been heightened by the pandemic because usable outdoor space is more crucial than ever,” said Jerold S. Kayden, a Harvard University professor of urban planning
  • A more bustling street life—Remote work is leading to more activity in neighborhoods, which could spur new businesses. Restaurants and bars are getting creative with using outdoor space, sometimes growing their seating capacity.

Although we are still in the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial to seek out the good. We can all appreciate the positive in our cities’ continuous ability to morph.

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How to Engage Colleagues, Clients from Home

By Kylie Schreiber Wolf – Workforce Ecosystem Coordinator


TPMA has managed the work-from-home environment since March. We meet with everyone—clients, colleagues, and project teams—virtually. Digital communication is decidedly different than in-person communication, but we still find ways to optimize our internal and external engagement techniques while maintaining personal connection and collaboration.

These approaches help maintain morale and keep innovation flowing within internal teams:

  • Weekly Check-Ins—Periodic meetings by phone or video help team members and supervisors stay connected professionally and personally.
  • Planned Collaboration Time—Instead of quick office visits and whiteboard brainstorm sessions, we schedule collaboration time on projects where we need to bounce ideas off each other.
  • Laughing!—It is more important now than ever to keep things light-hearted occasionally. Tell jokes, share quarantine war stories, and more! External engagement with clients, partners and stakeholders requires more finesse:
  • Virtual kickoff meetings—In-person or not, kickoff meetings allow people to meet, set expectations, learn about project background, and discuss project phases to get on the same page as the client.
  • Smaller groups—Hosting stakeholder meetings with too many people over video chat can be a challenge. We meet in smaller groups when possible to encourage participation and discussion.
  • Investing Time in Relationships—“Business as usual” has changed indefinitely thanks to COVID-19. It’s more important than ever to nurture client relationships and be present as a partner and resource.

Though nothing can replace in-person communication, technological improvements make virtual engagement easier. These tools combined with intentional efforts to change how we interact have allowed TPMA to continue producing quality work and keep up staff morale, and you can do the same!

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How TPMA Transitioned to Working From Home

By Genna Petrolla – Project Consultant

Thomas P. Miller & Associates has been a leader in transitioning smoothly to working from home during the COVID era. We have innovated and improved day-to-day handling of business both internally and externally.

Although headquartered in Indianapolis and having an office in Youngstown, Ohio, TPMA employees and consultants are based all over the country. So we were working virtually long before the pandemic struck. We simply refined what we were already doing by strengthening bonds and “over-communicating” among ourselves and with clients.

Not only did TPMA continue delivering solutions for clients without interruption, but we also strengthened our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through virtual convenings of our DEI Council. The dispersed staff responded in real-time to what was happening outside, conducting discussions around racial equity literature and news. DEI Council leaders and members built and solidified relationships with partners to present new DEI offerings for clients.

Once again, TPMA was able to respond in real-time to current events and needs of existing and potential clients.

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