By Dr. Josh Williams
Leaders are desperately working to address financial, health, and remote working challenges associated with COVID-19. Managing the immediate crisis is imperative to keep operations running. However, leaders also need to start thinking about next steps when social distancing restrictions ease. Until a vaccine is developed, getting back to “normal” will be a gradual, staged process unlike turning on a light switch. Leaders need to hit the ground running with new plans and protocols to manage various waves of returning to normalcy. This includes safely managing employees and working with clients.
Leaders are ethically bound to provide a safe, secure work environment for employees. Consider these steps as we rebound into a new work reality:
• Provide more rotating and split shifts with onsite employees to minimize the number of people in a given space at any one time. This may include workplace re-designs to maximize social distancing.
• Clarify policies on social distancing, update requirements for cleaning/disinfecting work areas, increase housekeeping inspections, and reduce commonly shared items (work desks, writing instruments). Some organizations may even begin taking employees’ temperatures before, during, and after work until a vaccine is available. Policies should be very liberal in terms of employees going home if they have any symptoms of illness.
• Encourage the continuation of remote work when possible. This includes training with expanded virtual software for video conferencing, document sharing, joint content creation, and task management. Ensuring internet security will also be increasingly important.
• Increase the quantity and quality of virtual meetings to ensure proper governance and alignment with business activities. Tightening up the efficiency of meetings will be needed as more virtual meetings take place.
• Maintain transparency with all COVID-19 updates and continually demonstrate active caring for people’s physical and emotional well-being during this difficult time.
New protocols also apply to customers in non-remote settings like stores, restaurants, and subways. This includes adopting more stringent policies and inspections to ensure a clean, disinfected environment, setting quotas on the maximum number of customers in a given location, limiting store hours, and COVID-19 testing for internal staff when it’s made available.
Smart leaders stay ahead of the curve with business challenges and opportunities. Leading the way out of COVID-19 will test leaders on an entirely new level. Early adoption of the steps outlined above will position leaders to set up their organizations for safety and success as we move into the new normal of business.
At Propulo consulting, our focus has always been on safe production. Please visit our website for the latest insights and research into leadership effectiveness during COVID-19.