Navigating the pandemic was no simple feat. In 2020, when the ripples from the COVID-19 pandemic reached our company shores, we knew that our resiliency, adaptability, and grit (coincidentally, a core value of ours) would be put to the test. We recently took a step back to evaluate how our team responded to this crisis and articulate the steps we took that allowed us to continue delivering for customers with minimal interruption.
Whether it is on the scale of a worldwide pandemic or not, companies of every kind are inevitably put to the test at one point or another. Why not share our blueprint for how we weathered the COVID-19 storm?
Single Point of Contact
The foundation of our response lay in a decision that was made very early on. We decided that communication on all things Covid-related would flow through one person. We turned to our Safety Manager, Adam Dall to fill this role and it became such a fundamental part of our operations that it became widely known “if a policy change didn’t come from Adam…it wasn’t real.” From the start this infused our communication process with consistency and clarity and minimized the possibility of any miscommunications or employee confusion.
COVID Response Team
While Adam was the point of contact, we created a cross-functional Covid Response Team in place that met daily. Government guidance and regulations over the course of the pandemic were always changing and these daily meetings allowed us to remain nimble in responding. Each meeting concluded with identifying any key information that needed to be shared with the larger Toolcraft team.
Communication as a whole was critical. We did not compromise on any of our typical, key communication events, such as our all-employee meetings or our plant meetings. How we had those meetings changed, but it was critical to the ongoing functioning (and culture) of our business to maintain those exchanges of ideas and information.
Lean on Technology
Like many other companies, we kept the flow of communication and connection going by relying on and fully embracing technology solutions. We invested in webcams, headphones, and video conferencing services to ensure remote and on-site team members could stay connected. Building in extra time for meetings was important as well. Once we were able to have more people on site, we used our plant space to spread out for team meetings. Again, we purchased the necessary tech (sound system, projection screens) to ensure everyone could see and hear, even though we were in a large space.
Our facility has screens throughout for up-to-date messaging. We made good use of these tools to provide information from HR or leadership. It was a deliberate effort to keep the information on the screens fresh and current. Our goal was to communicate often and through multiple channels so that employees were kept informed.
Part of this effort to lean on technology will likely become a permanent part of how we do business. Equipping our plant employees to connect virtually is here to stay. We’ve seen some added efficiencies from having this kind of tech in place to facilitate communication between the plant and office.
Align with Customers
Communicating within our company changed and so did how we communicate with our customers. We doubled-down on our website as a sales and marketing tool and became more active on social media to stay connected to stakeholders. It has always been our way of business for us to understand and align with our customers and the value of that approach was reinforced during this time. We made a deliberate effort to understand how our customers were comfortable communicating and aligned ourselves with their technology of choice. We used many different tools to make sure the flow of communication was as seamless as possible with our customers. Staying in touch proactively with our customers helped us navigate any supply chain issues or price changes without any issues.
Lastly, one of the most important things we did during the pandemic was to create a culture that kept our employees safe. We set safety protocols and were strict about adhering to them. As a result, we were fortunate to have very few employees out due to COVID. It was also widely known that there would be no repercussions or any negativity surrounding an employee who needed to stay home sick. We were active about communicating to employees that we fully supported and would protect confidentiality so there would be a high comfort level with making the right choice about coming into work vs staying home.
We certainly wouldn’t wish to weather a similar challenge to the one our whole world has been confronting this past year. However, we can look back on these months with a sense of pride in how our team worked together, stayed connected and communicated to rise to each obstacle we were dealt. Going forward, we now have a blueprint for responding to any future challenges.