Creating Safer Workspaces
The manufacturer of laser printers and imaging products must have some workers on-site, both for production and research and development. Before COVID-19, only about 10 percent of the 2,000 US workers telecommuted, compared with about 70 percent now.
Starting in March, business leaders from all units met weekly to address issues, including the safest ways to keep workers on-site. Employees who ask to work at home (and whose jobs allow it) are given permission. Those who must be on-site are asked what accommodations make them comfortable, says Nikki Robson, HR business partner. “We have placed priority on safety,” she says, adding that most accommodation requests have focused on flexibility. For working parents, that means changing hours so they can start their day earlier and end later but have time midday to help and support their children.
Key factors in creating a comfortable work environment for those on-site are:
• Installation of plexiglass shields in the lobby at corporate headquarters and cafeterias.
• Signage in restrooms only allowing use of every other sink.
• Conference rooms with posted limits of how many people can be there.
• Creation of many quiet private rooms for employees.
The childcare facility at the Lexington, Kentucky, corporate headquarters, operated by the YMCA, had 83 children enrolled before COVID-19. It reopened on June 22 for 48 children, with staggered hours, temperature checks for workers, parents and children, and insistence on frequent handwashing for all.
“They quickly rearranged classroom assignments, cleaning procedures, food service, drop-off/pickup procedures and much more to ensure that our children were in the safest possible environment,” says Tanya Welsch, HR business partner. “It was not an easy decision, but knowing how much the team at the center cares about the kids and their attention to all the details gave us peace of mind to send our 5-year-old son back.”