Prospero: COVID-19 – An emergency kit for business
I know your shelves are stocked with toilet paper and peanut butter, but are you stocked up with tips on how to manage your business during this time? I believe we need to flatten the curve of people getting the COVID-19 virus so that we don’t overwhelm our health-care system with a flood of sick people. I know this is going to impact your business, and here are my thoughts on managing your employees during this temporary, but bizarre and scary time.
Stop meeting in person temporarily. There is so much technology available that makes working from home possible. Zoom, Google Hangouts and Facetime work well. For many of you, this means that you’ll go from being an in-office company to a remote company temporarily. There are a lot of myths about remote workers and to survive the next few months of business you’ll need to let go of these. I hear often that remote workers are “lazy” and “are not as reliable” and “don’t get our culture” as much your face-to-face workers. Remote working is different than in-office, but those workers are not worse employees.
Remote workers feel like they are always on and can never step away for fear of the myths. To combat this, agree to “core hours” and “flexible hours.” You can set a new policy that during this time of sequestering, your core hours are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the rest of the time, people can work around their life. To make sure business is still moving forward, you, as the leader, need to set clear goals for what needs to be accomplished, and you need to communicate this and manage this weekly. Don’t be too hands-off, but also don’t expect them to be on all the time. (However, I do like the idea of a virtual happy hour now and then!)
Not everyone can work from home. Many people rely on physical work that cannot happen at home. In this case, do your best to isolate those teams from large crowds, encourage handwashing, sleep and healthy eating. If possible, if you’re furloughing them, make sure you’ve educated them on all the ways they can make their budget stretch. I’ve listed a few resources below to help them.
Lastly, as a leader, you are responsible for creating an environment where your employees feel supported. Even if you think this is hype or hysteria, you have employees who will lose people to this virus. You owe it to them to do your part to slow its effects.
Here’s my checklist:
- Set core hours and flexible hours
- Use video technology to visually see your remote workers
- Set clear monthly goals and manage over video
- Remind them of emergency services like Food Bank of the Rockies or EFAA if they need food
- Encourage good health practices — eat good food, get good sleep, and wash hands
- If you furlough, talk about unemployment insurance, borrowing from their 401(k), and other financial nets that could help them.
- If you have a benefits package, share information about your Employee Assistance Plan (EAP). Sometimes people need to talk to a professional and this is often a free service with your benefits
- Brainstorm with your teams about spreading around PTO or sick time. If your employees are willing to share with other employees who don’t have as much, it can be a powerful way to build community inside your organization.
- Ask your peers, fellow CEOs and leaders, what you can do to help them. Sometimes, making an introduction or sharing resources can help both sides. I’m a member of Colorado Thought Leaders Forum (CTLF.org) and the entire spirit of this organization is to serve and help especially when things are tough.
Remember if we do this well, this is a temporary situation. We are all in this together, and we will recover from this.
Kendra Prospero is the CEO and founder of Turning the Corner, a Boulder-based organization that does recruiting the way it should be done for job seekers and companies.