The office will be a different place when doors re-open

Mike McCarron

As the coronavirus curve continues to flatten, so does the enthusiasm for working exclusively from home.

The office is a community and cultural place where chit-chat at the water cooler helps build friendship and your company’s secret sauce. Solving problems on the fly is essential to the art of trucking and it’s harder to do when people have to set up a Zoom call to have a quick conversation.

And frankly I don’t think it’s good for a person’s mental health to work in isolation.

Covid-19 home office
(Illustration: iStock)

But with no treatment or vaccine in sight, the six-foot society seems here to stay.

The trucking industry has done a great job figuring out how to keep workers safe. But with most fleets operating at less than 50% capacity things will be different once business picks up, assuming the shippers start shipping again.

It’s time to start talking about work arrangements that make all your employees feel safe and productive once they come back to the office.

Hockey-stick workplace

If people are nervous about going out in public, they’re going to be concerned about their health and safety at work. Having a clean workplace is paramount to getting everyone enthusiastically back to the terminal.

There are a lot of simple and effective ways to reduce the risk of spreading germs, from hockey-stick distancing between desks, to steadfast routines for sanitizing common areas.

Left Lane employees will be required to do a daily symptom check with our office manager. Guests will have to make an appointment and be required to sign a waiver so they clearly understand the terms and conditions of their visit.

The best way to keep things safe is to make sure no employees or visitors enter the workplace if they’re feeling symptoms.

Super social

If employees feel as alone at the office as they do at home, there’s no point in them commuting in the first place.

Focus on ways to safely provide the social interaction that’s been nonexistent for months. As we look for signs of a successful re-entry to the workplace, the smart money is on fleets that can add some fun and flexibility into employees’ lives.

Take it outside

The odds of transmission in closed, indoor spaces are orders-of-magnitude higher than in open-air environments.

One thing most truckers have is an abundance of land. Take advantage of your real estate and the summer weather to move work and social activities outside.

I’m amazed at how creative carriers can be. One trucker I know erected a tent in the yard where folks can work, and then they host movie nights in the tent because families can spread out and still be together. Kids, after all, are having about as much fun at home as mom and dad.

Wearing a mask

Full disclosure: I used to look crosseyed at people who wear a mask. Today, I won’t go into a situation without one if I can’t keep a hockey-stick distance away from other people.

But I also live in Toronto where infection rates are higher than most regions of the country. Each fleet is unique and the measures they take will vary depending on where they’re located, the number of employees they have, and other factors.

There is a fine line between protecting your employees from germs and being intrusive, but if an employee gets infected or there is a second wave in the fall, all bets are off about office life.

Praying that does not happen and the positive trends continue. Wishing you a super-social summer celebrating the fact that your company has survived the most severe economic crisis in 100 years.

Mike McCarron

Mike McCarron is the president of Left Lane Associates, a firm that creates total enterprise value for supply chain companies and their shareholders. He can be reached at mike@leftlaneassociates.ca, 416-551-6651, or @AceMcC on Twitter.

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