Health and safety have always been a critical priority in warehouses and supply chains. One accident can be costly – or even deadly. Before Covid19, companies had confidence in their protocols and understood the risk and rules in our industries.
Now Covid19 has thrown a wrench into this equation and the rules keep shifting. So, how can you keep your staff and warehouses safe when there are so many variables and the landscape keeps changing? Working from home is clearly not an option for many of the employees moving goods around the nation.
Let’s look at some of the biggest challenges during Covid19:
The virus is changing social behavior and this means the competitive landscape will change. Can you succeed in this new world? Will you need to expand production to meet a greater demand? Perhaps you need to pivot to stay relevant?
Prioritize high-revenue and high-profit margin products that are in demand when making trade-off decisions. Geo-track these products as the virus could affect critical suppliers and customer demand.
Be careful not to exploit customer demand – “profiteering” off critical goods during a pandemic is subject to laws, scrutiny and can cause devastating long-term damage to a brand’s reputation.
Technology can be a game-changer in giving you a competitive advantage. This could mean embracing scanners, cloud technology or new video conferencing platforms. In each of these scenarios, privacy is critical. Data leaks have always been an issue, but Covid19 makes our businesses even more vulnerable if you have legacy software and old technology.
Some employees will be doing overtime to keep up with demand. Fatigue causes errors and mis-steps. Stress causes poor judgement.
Companies need to be mindful of burnout because it puts the company at risk for staff injury, mistakes, profit loss and even damage to brand-reputation. Amazon is dealing with this on a massive scale and it is definitely impacting its work force – and ultimately its brand.
What happens when your staff get sick? Covid has put the issues of paid sick leave and health insurance under a magnifying glass like never before. Could absent and sick staff cripple your warehouse?
Is an investment in job retention going to save you money in the long-run? Or is automation an option for your warehouse? In collaboration with human resources, provide clear communication about new ways of working and welfare standards. This may include masks, physical-distancing, travel restrictions, limited contact between workers and increased home-working and video-training conferencing.
Plan precautions for when quarantines are lifted and employees return to work. Consider long-term preventative actions to ensure that the virus does not spread into your healthy workforce.
SUPPLIERS & PARTNERS:
Relationships are built on human connections. Engage with critical suppliers to assess the impact of the virus on their workforce and the estimated time for recovery. Face-to-face contact between suppliers and partners will be impacted for a long time.
New partnerships will need to be initiated in new ways.
Talk to suppliers to determine if they have the people and production capacity to keep manufacturing materials and products.
Identify production gaps and assess if alternative suppliers have the capacity to supply you in the interim. Review the timeline and costs associated with temporarily switching suppliers.
LONG TERM SAFETY:
Once the Covid19 curve starts to level off, we will still require additional protective gear and protocols for our staff and our workplaces. What will they look like?
Avoid speculation that may cause anxiety and damage staff morale. Remember, that new information is being learned everyday about this virus and how to combat it.
There has never been a better time to take a good hard look at health, safety and security in your warehouses. As always, necessity is the mother of invention. Covid19 calls for a paradigm shift in team working behaviors and practices.
Be well, Team Avectous.