What Just Happened? The Pandemic as an Opportunity to Learn

June 14, 20208:53 am1660 views
What Just Happened? The Pandemic as an Opportunity to Learn
What Just Happened? The Pandemic as an Opportunity to Learn

Had you asked me in January of this year what an HR Director gets up to, I would have told you the very sorts of things you would have expected to hear: in normal circumstances I worry about getting the best people for appropriate positions, keeping them, and seeing to it that they rise in the organization as they should. I would have told you about the evils of presenteeism, counterproductive work behavior, and how best to court employee engagement. Those things still matter, of course, but the adaptability necessitated by the last few months has brought entirely new concerns to the fore, and new traits to prize in a dynamic workforce.    

Suddenly, with Covid-19, every workspace, no matter how bland or generic, became as potentially dangerous as a construction site. Until we have a vaccine, that will likely remain the case. Safety inspections are no longer an occasion to knock off work for a stroll around the premises. They’ve assumed genuine importance. At Solve.Care we have a ‘soft-return policy’. Those who wish to work at the office are more than welcome to do so. Facilities Management have taken every precaution to appease wholly justified anxieties around the transmissibility of the coronavirus: arrivals are staggered, people’s temperatures are registered, facemasks distributed, and frequently scrubbed desks resituated with social distancing in mind.

Compare this arrangement with our equally careful – albeit expedited – collective maneuvering into a remote work environment. I’m proud to write that Solve.Care managed it in two days, and that was with new employees in tow, joiners who hadn’t laid eyes on anyone or had the least idea who was who in relation to what. Senior people were extraordinarily gracious with their new colleagues. Our CEO saw to it that everything that could be anticipated was thoroughly attended to, and every contingency leapt at by those best equipped to address it.

The question that inevitably followed for us was the same question that voiced itself to virtually everyone else: how to mobilize on somewhat unfamiliar terrain? But before we even got there, we had to know who was sick, who was well, and who appeared to be “well” but was actually struggling with the realities of remote work. Solve.Care is a tech company that provides healthcare solutions. We were, like so many, very much confronted by a problem in need of a solution: monitoring and caring for teams to ensure what amounts to the same thing: business continuity and employee wellbeing. Both are inextricably bound up with technical cohesion, so there was a third facet to contend with, the connectivity and reliability of our tools.  

As a result, Team.Care was born, and that’s what the Team.Care Network does; it accounts for your workforce so that your organization can be as responsive and proactive as circumstances will permit. For instance, on the basis of the information we were receiving from our teams, we saw to a 40% reduction in workspace that would have otherwise remained vacant or underutilized. But the Team.Care Network isn’t merely about cost-effective measures. In the context of a care facility, knowing a clinician or caregiver has contracted the coronavirus is a matter of life or death for the immunosuppressed or the elderly. Here, and I would hope this is universally applicable, it is a moral responsibility for management to stay informed.                     

We could take a far less dire, but nonetheless important instance where it’s key for administrators to remain involved with their people wherever they may be: burn-out. With no clear demarcation between work and home but the erratic conflation of the two, it’s easy to see how people become incapable of switching off. Economic precariousness only makes it that much worse. Does not reading that 2 AM email on which you’re copied somehow put your job at risk? It’s no wonder that, no matter how many hours they’ve put in, people shudder into motion whenever their computer chimes. Is 66% of remote tech workers reporting exhaustion any sort of surprise? Do they have a mechanism by which they can discretely contact HR so that the relevant party is told workloads are untenable?

The pandemic has been absolutely instructive. People are, for the most part, amenable to reason, they perceive things as well as or better than you do, and, for the most part, they want to do well by one another. If something worthwhile needs to be done, they’ll take pains to do it. We knew this, yes, as sentiment you might find on a brochure. It’s another thing to see it in action.  I have every confidence in my team, and I am happy to earn theirs.

Sandra Hannon is the Global Head of Human Resources at Solve.Care. She brings more than 20 years of experience in human resources, personnel management, and talent development to the Solve.Care team. Prior to joining Solve.Care, Sandra served as Global HR Business Partner of LR Energy Inspection where she developed the global people strategy and was a facilitator for the global culture transformation. With a special interest in the concept of Employee Engagement, she occasionally partners with a Dutch academic to conduct HR research.

For more information on what Team.Care does for your remote workforce, visit https://teamcare.solve.care/