As COVID-19 continues to affect our daily routines, facility leaders are having to learn how to operate their facilities from home. With over 62% of U.S. workers now working remotely, facility leaders must find the balance between prioritizing the safety of their employees and maintaining full operations. The most common areas facility leaders need to evaluate during the pandemic are health and safety, facility operations, equipment maintenance, team communication, and staffing plans

Health and Safety

How can I keep my employees safe without ceasing facility operations?

Prioritizing the health and safety of employees should be the top priority for all facility leaders. Facilities can prioritize the safety of their employees in a variety of ways. First, most facilities have been requiring all non-essential personnel to work from home. Minimizing the number of employees at your facility will decrease the risk of your essential, on-site personnel contracting COVID.

Next, facilities should require essential personnel to wear face masks and proper PPE while working. Additionally, facilities should limit facility visits from outside vendors and sanitize all common work spaces on a daily basis.

Facility Operations

How can my facility continue operating while implementing modified schedules and social distancing measures?

In addition to prioritizing the safety of their staff, facility leaders must also keep their facilities fully operational. Many facilities have developed a modified shift schedule where one group of employees work on-site Monday through Wednesday and a second group of employees work on-site Thursday through Sunday. While the modified shift schedule helps keep employees safe, water and wastewater facilities also have to worry about the modified schedules will affect their daily processes and procedures.

For example, how will your facility’s biology be affected by the modified shift schedules? How often will your field personnel need to take samples? How can you adapt the routines of your field personnel and still collect all necessary information? Can you delay any major capital projects or other non-essential projects so that your technical experts can focus on necessary tasks?

Equipment Maintenance

How can I maintain the integrity of my equipment with fewer employees on-site?

Maintaining the integrity and reliability of your equipment is another crucial element to maintaining efficient operations during the COVID pandemic. While having a limited workforce on-site can create some challenges while conducting preventative maintenance, facilities can prioritize crucial maintenance tasks and delay non-essential, complex projects that require multiple people to work within the same area.

Team Communication

How can I communicate crucial information to my employees and show that I’m prioritizing their safety?

Clear, concise communication across the company is crucial during a pandemic. Company leaders must create a communication plan and determine the appropriate frequency of company-wide communication. Constantly communicating the safety precautions your facility is taking to ensure employee safety will help reassure your employees that you are prioritizing their safety.

Another important factor to consider is the communication of performance expectations, especially for remote workers. Clearly communicating expectations while also allowing for flexibility is crucial to ensuring your employees are success.

Staffing

How can I help the employees that are working remotely better adapt to their work situation without affecting their output?

While the work atmosphere of field personnel hasn’t changed drastically, many non-essential workers are facing difficult challenges while working for home. Since child care facilities and schools have been closed, many remote workers are having to balance working from home and taking care of their children. Allowing these workers to modify their schedules to accommodate for both their work and family needs will help employees be more successful.

Additionally, facility leaders must have a staffing plan in place in case one of their employees contracts COVID. Having a prepared plan will help minimize the negative impact of an on-site employee testing positive for COVID.

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