Yet even as the peak of COVID has since waned – as close to being able to assess the climate as “post-pandemic” – workers have now come to expect robust safeguards at the workplace, he said. “We’ve seen a dramatic shift in just the expectation of employees,” Ponder said. “The past several years have been a giant education, and so I think we’re seeing our clients really focus on that elevated expectation as they do return to the office and have a higher level for themselves.”

To be sure, safeguards put in place to ensure wellness are now paramount. Maureen Balent, senior vice president and director of benefits, outlined the scope of changes at the venerable bank.

“So I love the new space. I love the new atrium. It’s fabulous in the fact that it’s beautiful and it’s also cool, fun and using this space, we have a group that’s getting together on a regular basis talking about – how do we make it more fun, or more interesting, or different than what it was before the pandemic? So we have tunes on Tuesday – there’s a musician in the atrium just having tunes. That’s something we never had before. But it also helps us to promote other things that we’re doing. So people are curious; like, what’s going to happen next? We had a bale of hay in the lobby the other day where you could get selfies taken. So we use the atrium now as a place to catch people eye on wellness activities.”

But wait, there’s more

“We had a big table with balloons, advertising,” Balent added. “The mammography van is outside at Fountain Square. We have appointments available – sign-up. We had a sell-out crow. We had flu shots, sell-out crowd. We’ve never had a sell-out crowd before. Biometric screening. Somebody’s taking your blood right around Halloween. That’s a little scary, right? And sell-out crowd again. So people are walking in that would have never seen us before, maybe in a conference room.”

Garrett expounded on the idea: “Maureen’s talking about wellness. She’s also talking about culture, and space as a prosy for culture. And so you can’t extricate the two from one another. When you activate space, I mean space is both a catalyst and a supporter of culture. But then when you come behind a completed space and you activate it that way, you’re perpetuating something really positive for people. What we’re talking about here is, there’s a huge cultural element to this that you just can’t deny.”