The Global Pandemic of Covid-19 began in China, the “Factory of the World”. China has begun reopening its operations and has given the rest of the world some insight into what production looks like during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Normal” as we once knew it, is no longer possible–at least not for a while. Officials and business leaders predict that operations won’t return to normal until an effective vaccine hits the market–experts estimate we still have a year to wait. So how can we thrive and adapt to these new norms? The new normal will need to be driven by production leadership, company transparency, and digital work management to succeed.
It will be essential for an influential leader implement the new norms as employees return to production. A system will need to be put in place to combat any transmission of Covid-19. Some suggestions of procedural implementations are as follows:
- Alternate workers’ schedules so that there are less people in the facility at one time.
- Decrease foot-traffic by spreading out work areas and formalizing traffic patterns.
- Routinely disinfect work areas.
- Integrate new floor plans to limit contact between employees.
- Check employees temperature before any production begins.
These leaders will need to normalize the new routines and help employees transition through the process. Production may be slow upon return as employees adapt. Any additional complications due to leadership’s failure to implement the new norms will impact production negatively. Leaders must minimize any additional damage to production output in order to thrive.
Transparency is indispensable during these uncertain times. The employees need to feel secure, safe, and protected upon their return. It must be a top priority. Employees selected to return to work need to be reliable. Anyone who does not feel secure, safe, and protected could potentially resist adaptation or fail to show up for work.
Inconsistency from employees could mean that you lose hours or days worth of labor. An hour may seem minimal, but when related to production it can be quite significant. For perspective, consider the average automotive manufacture loses $22,000 per minute of downtime. Although some companies will not come close to such significant losses, even losing a few hundred dollars per hour makes a difference. Disney’s
Executive chairman and former chief executive, Robert Iger, advised after opening a portion of its Shanghai Disney resort in China, “to return some resemblance of normal, people will have to feel comfortable that they’re safe.” Any resemblance to normal is vital. Companies that are honest with employees will make them feel more safe and secure, leading to more consistent and higher quality work from employees.
Digital Work Management
The digital world workspace rapidly developed as many companies were forced to fully immerse in remote work. While some may want to return to in-person work, experts recommend that companies continue to maintain as many remote-workers as possible through the return to full operations.
But remote work does pose challenges for both employees and management. Remote workers are facing lack of face-to-face supervision, social isolation, and distraction. Management must address the challenges. According to Harvard Business Review management needs to provide:
- Emotional Support
- Rules of Engagement
- Social Interaction Opportunities
- Structured Check-ins
Employees receiving support from management are more likely to be efficient and motivated than those whose social and emotional needs are not being met. Management needs to take the extra step to check on employees.
The new normal will not be easy to conquer but with leadership, transparency, and digital work management we are taking a step in the right direction.