The topic of COVID-19 is part of every other sentence in our office these days. And we know it will continue to be for the immediate future. Those discussions we’re having, though, aren’t just about panic…we have moments of clarity that bring creativity, and we’re putting that to use.
We’re brainstorming ways in which employers might be able to think outside the box during this time, in an effort to keep operations moving (maybe not at the ideal pace, but not at a standstill). Specifically, we’re brainstorming ideas on how to keep employees working amid school closures, care center closures, and disruptions in daily life that are happening right now.
Here are some ideas we’ve come up with, and encourage you to think about how they – or other ideas – might be incorporated for this trying time:
- Remote work: Not a new idea, but it’s a great time to not just allow your employees to work remotely occasionally, but on a regular basis. Maybe there are some large projects that haven’t made much progress in the office because of competing priorities that can be taken home? Maybe their daily duties, for the most part, can be done offsite with a little modification (instant messaging is handy here, as an example to facilitate communication).
- Shifts: Does your organization work on one shift from 8am-5pm? What’s the possibility of creating a second, or even third shift? This helps to create “social distancing” between colleagues, and also creates some flexibility for staff to choose hours to work which fit around childcare issues, too. Even for an office setting, shifts could be created in the short term to accommodate the times, and the company will still see some productivity happening.
- Schedule rotations: There may be a group of employees who have kids who aren’t able to be left at home alone. Would they like to share in childcare responsibilities? Work with them by looking at how schedules might shift where one employee stays home on Mondays with the group of kids, while the other parents are able to go to work. Then another employee takes Tuesdays, another on Wednesdays, etc. Yes, there’s some missed work, but not nearly like having all of those employees calling out!
- Put the entrepreneur hat on! Are there employees within your workforce with older kids – middle and high school age? They might be able to start a babysitting service for employees with younger kids! Even if it’s for 4 or 6 hours of time, at least there’s a bit of production happening and your employee is able to work, rather than missing the full day. Couple this with a remote work policy even, and quite a bit could be accomplished.
- Family-friendly: Take a look around and see if there’s a way to create some physical space within your business to allow children to come to work with their parents. Hire (or let parents hire) a couple of those budding entrepreneurs in the previous idea to keep an eye on other children while employees work. Again, may not be the full day, but some hours keep the business needs moving a bit.
- Relax: Yes, relax those attendance policies. Allow people to come in late or leave early. Don’t have it count against them right now. And certainly, if they call out sick – nobody wants to work next to them! Let them stay home and not worry about the penalty. Will you have some who abuse it? But that’s less of an issue for this defined period of time than the alternative. We should assume the best in times like these, because most of us will rally around and do the right thing.
We realize that each business has unique needs. Now is an opportunity for all of us to focus frustrations of the situation into possible creative solutions. While maybe not ideal, the solutions might minimize the loss an organization might experience and decrease the level of stress on staff. Put your leadership heads together – inside your business as well as with peers at other companies – and give ideas a try. We’d love for you to share your ideas with us, too!
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