March 23, 2020. Today Granger Whitelaw discusses Workplace Planning & Business continuity, with a focus on communicating with employees. Its Monday, so grab your coffee – and let’s go!
Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability.
Listen to the full episode at the link here:
Granger Whitelaw: Good morning. This is Granger Whitelaw with The Lotus Talks Monday morning, March 23rd about 6:15 AM just watched the sunrise over Ho Chi Minh City where I’m located. I am working from home “sheltering in place” as they say, I have my coffee and I am ready to start the day. It’s been an interesting last couple of days over the weekend, I actually got some sleep and some rest & de-stressed a little bit, which is a good thing to do. I think it’s important that during this time we all de-stress as much as possible, especially when you’re at home. You have possibly a wife or children, elderly parents living with you and everybody has a lot of stress, a lot of questions, on their minds about what’s happening and what to do, what’s the right thing to do. I know I certainly have received calls and notes from the people that I work with about going home to visit their family members over the next week. While there seems to be, a bit of a surge here of cases in Ho Chi Minh and, questions about how to work, what to do and communication. So I think it’s important as employers that you have some guidance for your employees so you can plan and prepare to respond to the Coronavirus disease and the issues that surround it, from a business standpoint, but also mentally and emotionally.
Granger Whitelaw: This is a very, very important thing. So I’m going to talk about that a little bit. I’m sure you’ve been reading non-stop, I may not be able to add any value to what you already know, but if I do, great. If one thing helps, that would be fantastic. So just from the outset, I would actively encourage all of your sick employees to stay home. Clearly, if employees have symptoms of any acute respiratory illness, or any fever, any signs with the fever, any signs of a symptom, for 24 hours and it doesn’t change, then they should stay home. So, I mean, you can get a little fever, you get a little cold cough, what have you, and it may last for 24 hours and it goes away. And as long as you’re not using any fever reducer, Paracetamol or something to reduce that fear for 24 hours, then you can go back to work. You know, that’s kind of like with my kids. any fever within 24 hours of a school day, stay home. So back to basics, right Everything you need in life to know in life you’ve learned in kindergarten, right
Granger Whitelaw: Ensure your sick leave policies are flexible and make sure the consistent with the public health guidelines, that all your employees understand what those are. A lot them, do not. it’s important we may be in getting information from, HR or from different resources that we have is executives, employers, but the employees don’t understand all of that necessarily. So really take time to slow down, meet with your employees, and have these conversations, right? Kind of like a family meeting when you have something going on at the family. And y’all need to sit around the table on Sunday morning or Sunday evening at dinner and have a family meeting. So sit down and talk to your employees and walk them through these different issues. And talk to the companies that you work with, your partners, your suppliers, those are really important for your operations. You need to have this conversation to make sure that, listen, make sure that they’re doing these things to ask them, are you doing these things What are you doing and how are you doing it, right? Because you can get some possible, insight from them that you can use together. You have to kind of sync up your new supply chain if you will, kind of sync up with them and make sure you’re on the same page as you’re going through this. Cause some disruption can affect not only your employees and your company, but your vendors, suppliers, customers.
Granger Whitelaw: And if employees are worried about coming to the office, I think that you should meet with them. And if they’re really concerned about it and they can work from home, give them the opportunity to do that. You know, you have it for a couple of days to alieve their fears, give them the opportunity to do that. That’s just the right thing to do and it will only come back in a positive way for you. Certainly, make sure that you are talking about proper hygiene. We all talk about wash your hands, provide tissues and provide hand sanitizer. Make sure you have a proper soap. make sure you really communicate this with your employees and it can be kind of repetitive maybe and overly annoying, but so what you need to do it and routinely clean all of the touch services and your workplace, the workstations, countertops, doorknobs is a big one, right People come in and out, in and out, in and out. make sure that you go where the cafeteria is or where you have coffee, etc. Make sure you really wash that down throughout the day. I know people are doing it every half an hour, hour, depending on how much that is used by your employees.
Granger Whitelaw: Really, really important. because you want to stop the transmission of anything. You want to really have a clean environment. I actually, here in Ho Chi Minh, I found a company. I couldn’t even begin to pronounce the name. I don’t think Dich Vu Phun Thuoc Khu Trung Diet Khuan. They are at 092 619 31 93 is their phone number and they will come in and they will disinfect your office. They’re doing it for airlines, they’re doing it for offices. They come in, they will spray down the entire office for you. I know we are doing that, and maybe we’ll do it once a week, just to really make sure that anything airborne, it’s in the walls of the curtains. I don’t know, The couches chairs, the softer furniture in your offices, it really gets in everywhere. Right. And it’s just smart planning.
Granger Whitelaw: If you have any employees that are traveling I would just advise them not to travel. I’m assuming that all of you have stopped all of your, travel, for your companies. If someone has to travel, make sure that they understand all the latest guidance from the airlines. I don’t really think you could leave Vietnam and come back anyway right now. And Singapore certainly has shut down their borders. I believe Cambodia is, so again, back to telecommuting on a phone or using video conferencing like we spoke about last week. That’s really the way you want to do it.
Granger Whitelaw: And I would really, talk to your employees about when they’re at home and the mental health part of it, right? Staying active, you know, try to take walks. If you can get out, walk around, wear your mask obviously – get some sun every day. I think 30 minutes of sunshine to get vitamin D in your body is really important. You know that this will pass that, that you are there for them, as an employer and that you are doing everything you can to do.
Granger Whitelaw: For critical employees and having an infectious disease outbreak response plan. Getting critical employees separated is a really good idea as well. I’ve spoken to a couple of friends of mine who, whose companies have split their employees in different buildings and they’ve taken key employees from each division and teamed them and split them now so that in case one building got shut down and quarantined, to be cleaned, et cetera, even for a week or a couple of days, the other team can absorb, those functions.
Granger Whitelaw: This is a really smart thing to do. and I think a great, great way to plan for any type of issue because there are buildings that are being shut down, and being cleaned and that’s not going to stop, that’s only going to continue. So splitting your key people into different buildings I think is a great idea. split shifts if you can do split shifts where you have some employees in the office for one week and then another shift the next week. Also, you can maybe split them up more in the office that way, separate them more so there’s more social distancing in the office is a great idea. That would be, a great way to help keep some business continuity. You know, things like getting stamps signed, which is a requirement here for legal documents and other things that need to get done in the office, physically could still get done.
Granger Whitelaw: but you do it with a split shift, reduced staff and, you know, explain to your employees, listen, you’re gonna have to maybe work some different hours now, right then you’re used to, or longer hours or just, it’s not gonna be as consistent as it was before. we all need to be flexible and try to figure out how to get through this. But identifying the essential business functions and the essential job roles that are critical elements for your supply chain are key.
Granger Whitelaw: Make sure those people understand, what are the raw materials, suppliers, subcontractors, logistics, et cetera. Make sure that those are covered, and make sure those people understand that they’re going to have to be more flexible. Because again, as we spoke about earlier today in this conversation, companies that you work with are going to have their own practices. You’re going to need to understand what they’re doing from a crisis response standpoint, how they’re staggering, how they’re shifting things around and you can kind of calendar – map your calendars with them and get on the same page better, especially if they’re not all here in Vietnam, they’re in different places in Southeast Asia and maybe globally.
Granger Whitelaw: A lot to think about today on Monday Morning Coffee. I hope you’ve had your coffee and if you haven’t, please have one and maybe listen to this again. Granger Whitelaw: It’s going to pass. I have great faith that if we all really stay inside right now, if we work from home, work from the office in a thoughtful manner, more separated manner, and be very conscious about our hygiene, that we can beat this virus. It will pass in the next couple of weeks. We can reduce the spread of it. So please, please stay at home. Or if you’re at your offices, use new guidelines you put in place, separate your employees more distance in the workplace, proper hygiene.
Granger Whitelaw: I hope you guys have a phenomenal day. it’s a beautiful day. The great thing about all of us I guess is that the earth is getting cleaner. There’s less pollution being produced, and it’s a little healthier to be outside if you’re at home, taking a walk, doing stretching, doing push-ups and sit-ups. Keep your mental health up and eat a lot of fruit and vegetables so you keep your immune system up.
Granger Whitelaw: Have a wonderful day. This is Granger Whitelaw with The Lotus Talks. Speak to you on Friday. Until then. Bye. Bye.
The Lotus Talks is produced by The Vietnam Group and Hosted by Granger Whitelaw.
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