Business travel & Covid preparation
This past February, the members of our management team looked at me like I was crazy as I rattled off all the measures that I thought we should immediately implement. I had just returned from two weeks of travel overseas and in the U.S., and from what I witnessed it was clear to me that the coronavirus (it wasn’t called Covid yet) could potentially have devastating impact. While business travel can be a real pain, but there is also no question that my travel in the weeks immediately before the onset of the pandemic provided me with the foresight to preserve the wellbeing of our employees and the viability of our company.
In late February and early March I found myself in places that were being dramatically affected by Covid. People were getting sick and those who weren’t were getting anxious. Governments were scrambling to respond and it was obvious that something huge was going on.
When I returned to Canada, I was really disappointed to see how little was being done by governments to prepare for a pandemic. That made me all the more determined to ensure that Algood and its people would be as safe as possible.
I began our management meeting by saying, “we have to treat this like a fire.” Fires spread quickly and can be unbelievably destructive. It took a while but I convinced the team that we needed to act and then the ideas began to flow. There is no question that the measures we put in place six months ago were the key to our ability to survive. And most of those measures are still in place today. Here’s what we did.
- We compressed the work week from five days to four. That reduced the amount of time that staff we were in the plant and office, minimizing their travel to and from work
- We expanded the night shift encouraging people to move from day shift to night shift to lower exposure to fellow employees
- Masks became mandatory for all employees
- We ordered as much PPE as we could get
- Because masks were already in short supply, we created our own bandanas for employees to wear
- We installed workspace barriers to protect employees
- We began planning for moving all non-plant staff offsite and determining how to manage the company remotely We began planning for moving all non-plant staff offsite and determining how to manage the company remotely
- The building was sealed. No one other than employees could enter for any reason
- Knowing that our supply chain would be vulnerable, we began seeking out alternate sources
- Contingency plans were developed in the event a staff member became infected including the communication and safety protocols and a standby request to a company that would sanitize the entire plant
- A schedule of health and safety meetings was put in place
As I said, most of these measures are still in place. In fact, at a recent health and safety meeting, employees told us they wanted to continue with this approach. In hindsight, there is very little, if anything, I would have done differently and the reality is that this crisis is far from over. We remain vigilant and are asking our employees to do the same.
Thankfully not one of our employees has fallen ill with Covid and business is strong. While there is undoubtedly some luck involved in that, I am certain that our actions have had impact.
Maybe when I can resume traveling, I’ll be a little more appreciative of the foresight and insight that it can bring.