We hit a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19 this week. Schools all over the country reopened from Kindergarten to the University level. The reopenings were different for each school. Some are close to reopening as in the past with relatively minor restrictions. Others are reopening in a fully virtual basis. This will have a major impact on the lives of the parents. Therefore, there will also be a major impact on the employers.
Flexibility beats rigid thinking every time
The other issue is how many changes will there be after the reopenings happen? How many schools will have to adjust how they are operating due to isolated outbreaks? How many other schools will go even farther toward the norm as infections taper off? How will those adjustments affect the parents and their employers? The employers will need to be very flexible and focused on the long term not the short term. Many employers and employees have learned to work focused on the outcomes. With less focus on the process of how work is getting completed.
Earlier in my career there was a very hard focus on being at work at 8AM and being there until 5PM. It would be interesting to go back in time and see how those managers would react to the last five months. To their credit, the current employers have been open to new processes and accountabilities of their employees. This flexibility needs to continue as we work through the different milestones of returning to “normal”.
Reasonable flexibility will earn priceless goodwill
There was an employee who had a very serious illness. Her financial situation was simple, she had to work. She routinely had to be gone for a day a week for doctor visits. She tried her best to make the visits on the same day and at the same time each week. Her co-workers stepped up and did her work for her when she had to be gone. People would come in on their days off to pick up her shift. The supervisors and the employees made it happen. Upper management made it clear that they supported whatever needed to happen to keep her employed as long as she wanted to work.
For years later, the employees and management would discuss the mutual good feelings of how things were handled.
Do you want this level of engagement?