Regular readers here know that I own a small business that is in the trade of HVAC wholesale distribution, which is a subset of industrial distribution. Today I came out with a statement to the employees and I am interested in what the readers here think about it. If you are interested, please see below the fold and thanks in advance for any comments, good or bad. Some parts redacted or altered to preserve privacy.
Ladies and Gents,
Attached are the guidelines xxx sent out last week on the virus. Of course we need to take sensible precautions such as substituting elbow taps for handshakes, washing hands frequently, no sharing of keyboards if/when possible, and frequent cleaning of shared areas. Those things are obvious.
As of now, there are zero reported cases in xx County and 6 in xx County with one already recovered. We are sure that there will be more announced as testing becomes more widely available. The media will concentrate on the empty store shelves (that will be re-stocked soon enough), deaths and other dark things as is typical for them.
At this time, we are running our facilities “business as usual” with the exception of the sanitization processes (this isn’t a terrible thing, especially since we are still in flu season). We are monitoring events daily. If/when governments and/or our insurance companies limit our number of employees in a working space, or close our facilities altogether, you will receive communications at that time. If business slows to a certain point due to panic or fear (we are already hearing of homeowners cancelling calls to contractors), there could be a mandatory reduction of working hours and/or staff rotation, or other policy implementations. We certainly hope it doesn’t come to this and we will do everything in our power to keep it “business as usual”. Some of our vendors are already doing some of these things, and I expect the corporate HQ to make an announcement to this effect soon enough as well as the distribution centers. If we have to do some of these things, you will be informed ahead of time and everyone will be treated fairly, equitably, and within the law.
We understand that due to school and other closures there will be scheduling and other hardships that some will be going through. We will take them on a case by case basis, and make sure that everyone is again treated fairly, equitably, and within the law.
Speaking of the law, there are several relief packages making their way through the US Capitol. As the ones pertaining to employees and the Fair Labor Standards Act have not yet made their way through the Senate and to the President’s desk, we can’t really comment on the substance of those pieces of legislation. We will, I am sure, be receiving communications from our HR provider on the subject shortly after bills become law. If you or your family are affected by the virus someday, and need to apply for these benefits, we highly recommend that you keep all doctors records for proof to any agencies or our HR provider to receive benefits.
If you need to call our HR provider for a question, please remember that they are pretty well taxed with questions at this point, and that you may need to wait a bit longer than usual for your answer.
On a personal note, since we are all getting more downtime than we figured since everything is cancelled outside of work, use this time wisely. My grandfather told me a long time ago that when there are lemons, always try to make lemonade. Rather than letting the media whip you into a frenzy or sitting there watching the virus reports for the tenth time today, why not read a good book, or watch a movie, or go to the park, and in general, live your life. Perhaps take an online class or use this time to peruse all of the awesome benefits you have available from our HR provider for free. You could take sales skills or life management courses through our HR provider. Further yourself on our companies learning platform about products or sales skills. Maybe begin learning a language, plan/start that “getting in shape” or eating healthier routine, help your neighbor or plan on a charitable donation program/volunteering for the year. Perhaps fix up your house/apartment, clean up your car, or begin some other Spring cleaning project. These are just a few suggestions. And, by the way, they are all free or practically free.
This event will pass and we will all move forward. We promise. We hope you can look back on your reaction to it and see that you improved yourself and others around you.
In general, sitting around in fear is no way to live. Nobody can do anything about this current situation besides using the standard precautions. Stay informed, but don’t let the media drag you into the abyss. Let us know if you have any questions.