Staff consolidation plan takes a major step forward

EWEB will retain a customer service presence downtown, and other headquarters staff will begin moving to the ROC later this year.

Management and staff have been working for months on a staff consolidation plan by evaluating work needs, customer interests, and space options. A key ingredient to planning the sequence of a move and a new layout at ROC involves how we handle EWEB’s customer service presence. Should we retain a presence downtown? If so, where and how many staff?

Management looked at several options, including:
· A limited customer service center at ROC
· A full-service center at the existing HQ building
· Purchasing or leasing a different building somewhere in Eugene

At the Oct. 3 board meeting, commissioners directed staff to maintain some level of customer service downtown. That could be at the existing headquarters—in either the south or the north building—or in a different space somewhere in the downtown area.

There are advantages to maintaining customer service at the HQ building, mainly around visibility, access, and the availability of public meeting space. But there would be some hurdles to overcome if we were to maintain some or all customer service functions at HQ. For one thing, we don’t need as much physical space as the north and south buildings afford, so configuring our space needs in a way that optimizes the rest of the site for other uses would be a challenge. There are also potential complications around parking if we sell or lease parts of the headquarters site.

One thing was clear from the board—they do not want to operate customer service out of the Roosevelt facility.

“Looking at the social and economic profiles of our customers, it would be a burden for many people to travel out to the Roosevelt location,” said Commissioner Brown.

Other commissioners commented that our customer service center should not only be easy to access, but also present a friendly, inviting feel. The board agreed the ROC is not conducive to a community-oriented customer service center.

GM Frank Lawson indicated that this key piece of direction from the board clears the way to begin moving some staff to ROC as early as November-December, with the majority of moves occurring in early 2018.

“Consolidating the majority of staff at Roosevelt will result in efficiencies and cost-savings that will translate into increased customer trust and confidence,” said Frank. “This has been a long-time in the works, and I think we’re ready to go forward, not just with the physical move, but more importantly, with discovering new and improved ways of working together.”

What customer service functions will remain downtown and where to locate them is the next priority decision. “I’m interested in exploring options around what the HQ facility might look like different circumstances,” said Frank. “Our goal is to meet customer needs while maximize the value economic value to the community.”

A next round of discussions with the board regarding the future of the headquarters building will be scheduled within the next few months.