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#WFH: More New Tools and New Technologies!

MEET Pete (cont.)

Most of the company’s communications are done with email. He reports to one of the owners. In the beginning, they spoke at least twice a day. Six weeks into it, that has changed, and he now just regularly communicates with his team. He checks in with them once a day, in the afternoon. Payroll has also been interesting. They applied and received the payroll protection loan, but now are unsure how they will apply it. According to Pete it took a lot of data scrubbing and work to get the information together. In the middle of this crisis, they had their plant manager in Ohio die suddenly, which left that location without leadership at exactly the wrong time. It was truly a perfect storm.
It’s settling down a little about seven weeks in to COVID-19, but so far it has been mostly crisis management. The tools they are using like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are also new to the organization. They were not using them before the lockdown.

Workers were not used to communicating this way and had to learn the tools on top of everything else. IT had to set up the tools, the access, VPN, and support this move, quickly. IT and HR have been overwhelmed. They had to set a lot of people up in systems where they did not have access before.

When I asked Pete whether the company was ready to work from home, his response was, “There’s no and then there’s hell no.” With the COVID-19 crisis, he does think the company has tried to support anyone who could work from home to make it work. In normal times, he thinks there would have been much more of a resistance to remote work. The mindset is one that if you work from home, you are not really working, you’re goofing around. There is a lack of trust. All three owners are brothers and have only ever worked for this company.

Pete was concerned about workers’ compensation claims, and had questions like, if a worker got injured in their home, do they have their own insurance? Moving forward, he is sure the option to work from home will be totally dependent on the job position and the person. He is concerned about ergonomics, OSHA, and other labor issues as well. It is apparent this business has had its share of legal engagements over employee claims.