The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every corner of every industry, creating short-term upheaval for millions of Americans. But even when the curve begins to flatten, and even if and when a vaccine becomes available, the effects of the crisis will last longer than anyone could have initially imagined.
That’s part of the reason why manufacturers must consider the impact of operating with immediate and longer-term extensive health and safety measures required to protect both employees and customers. This is not an easy task and will impact productivity, service levels, operating costs, employee engagement, and customer experience. But waiting or doing nothing is not an option.
To operate and thrive, companies must create a safe work environment while also innovating and adapting ways of working to preserve productivity and service while also managing costs. Companies that demonstrate readiness, innovation, and adaptability will not only survive but thrive in a post-crisis economy.
- David Reich, president of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York (“Facts and Myths About Coronavirus Antibody Tests,” Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2020)
The starting point for companies is to assure the health and safety of employees and customers – whether it be within the four walls of an office, factory, and warehouse, or in the field serving customers. All elements of an operational footprint must be considered to identify these risks. While there are several ways to identify and sort these considerations, we recommend following a standard people, process, and technology (PPT) framework.
Essential businesses have been adapting operations in real time while establishing new operational health and safety measures since the spread of COVID-19 halted the economy. Grocery, food, beverage, life sciences, and packaging industries are rewriting the workforce and workplace safety rule book.
While there have been some high-profile breakdowns, many essential businesses have rapidly developed and adopted new ways of working and can safely and effectively operate. As the economy begins to recover, businesses will be looking to the innovators among essential industries for insights and best practices.
The speed of recovery for businesses will be based on how essential their industry is and how ready and able they are to adopt new ways of working. The stronger their ability to innovate, adapt, and execute, the sharper their recovery trajectory will be.
As businesses recover, assuring the health and safety of their employees will be the top priority. Employees must feel secure at work and not fear exposing themselves or their families to any unnecessary infection. Once a safe work environment is established, companies need to shift their focus to adopting new ways of working that will improve productivity and service levels while also offsetting increases in operating costs due to the new health and safety protocols. We recommend a four-step approach to achieve this:
While no one can predict if or when the need for extensive workforce and workplace health and safety measures will ever be relaxed, the reality is there will be no temporary solutions nor short-term victories. To win the recovery game, companies will need to embrace sustainable safety measures while adapting and transforming the way they work to thrive.