Resiliency and Safety in the Workplace: Webinar Q&A Continued

March 19th, 2020

Workplace Safety expert Herb Brychta, PSP, CISSP and Richard S. Citrin, Ph.D., MBA organizational psychologist and resiliency strategy, presented a discussion on managing and leading during the corona virus crisis with actionable ideas to maintain resiliency and safety in the workplace.    The questions were great so we wanted to provide the Q&A here.  You can listen to the webinar in entirety here.

Do you see a difference between younger staff vs. more seasoned staff on self-motivation while working remote?

We haven’t noticed a specific difference between generations and there is no real data to support that any group is more self motivated while working remotely. Individual preferences and technology utilization / comfort are some factors that could impact the rate of adoption.

How can we best support parents working from home when their children are home? Especially with young children.

This is what we referred to in the presentation as an “evolving operational” environment. With these constraints, the normal 8-5 might not be feasible. In this case, management might consider allowing a work day to be spread over 12-18 hours. This makes scheduling and sequencing tasks more challenging for managers, but you will get productive employees in return.

Here are some suggestions for working parents with children at home to build structure and routine into their days:

  • Build in structured time for play with children and work on easier and short term projects when kids are active.
  • You may need to rearrange your schedule so that you get work done when little ones are napping or even when you put them to bed, but you may be playing with them for a chunk of time during the morning.
  • The big challenge is getting time for concentrated work. Examining ways to be more efficient in your work can be helpful as well. Speak to your boss and alert him or her, which may provide an opportunity for some flexible assignments

Being unsure about a return timeline, how do we maintain our resilience for good work and high production? Also, how do we help our staff maintain that resilience? Should we modify expectations as time progresses?

Keep your finger on the pulse of how staff are doing through regular communications. Your staff, your clients, your suppliers, all of their situations form your operational picture. Adjust your operations to fit conditions when they change.

Some other actions you can take include:

  • Focus on accomplishments and good things people are doing.
  • Specify assignments so people get a sense of getting work done.
  • Recognize that good work and productivity will be variable (just like it is in regular times.e.g. A staff member will step up when a proposal is due but may slack a bit when some work deadline is 3 weeks out—work has an ebb and flow). Do not modify expectations as you want your team to maintain their high standards and your expectations. Obviously if someone is ill or has 4 small kids at home you will want to recognize that and help them figure out how best to deal with that issue.

Should businesses plan on having their offices disinfected after the pandemic is over?

The easy knee jerk reaction is “Why not? How can that possibly hurt?” But I recommend crossing that bridge when we come to it. Give the researchers and healthcare providers time to figure out the best way to disinfect. When the time comes, ask what method and chemicals the service provider will be using. Make sure whatever it is won’t harm sensitive electronics if you have those. Also confirm whatever they are doing is okay with your landlord if you rent. And if you’re in a multi-tenant building, consider asking the landlord to handle it for the building. As a security professional, I am always looking for exposures and foresee a number of scams coming into the office disinfection trade. Before you hire a cleaning company, check the company’s credentials, licenses. references, etc.

As a follow-up, most likely, the dirtiest stuff will be things like laptops and cell phones. Manufacturers have procedures to clean these which are likely posted prominently on their websites. Look those up and do that before you worry about the office. In fact, you might look that up now and ask staff to do it on a daily basis.

 

Do you foresee a significant shift in long-term business strategies as companies come out the other side of this time period with lessons learned?

That remains to be seen but companies should be looking at the implications of everything from telework and hygiene in the workplace to supply chain and continuity of operations planning. This is a bounce forward strategy and companies may be realigning business practices as a result and opportunity to strengthen our business resilience and safety.

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Manage and lead your team during these challenging times.

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