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COVID: The Employee Perspective of Changes in Day to Day Operations

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I don’t think anyone could have predicted what 2020 would bring. As all organizations pivoted (which really means YOU! the employees) we all realized we could be flexible and adjust to make things work. But everyone is experiencing the pandemic differently. For KPS Global, we transitioned office employees to a work from home scenario in order to keep our production teams on the front line. So even for us, we’ve got folks whose day to day changed very little but then also have folks whose day to day changed dramatically.

So let’s hear from our KPS Global employees about the transition and specifically how we’re adapting here at KPSG.
When asked about how KPSG employees have adapted to working remotely. The responses were mixed but the consistent theme we heard was the human connection and highlights how great our employees are!

From the Employee Perspective…
For office employees, it has really been a culture shock. A complete new way of doing business and one employee notes “I believe we have adapted well for the most part. You can never replace the day to day, face to face interactions that are needed. No matter if it’s personal or professional, human interaction is needed by most.” Along those lines, a Manager notes, “My day to day routine has become more efficient by cutting out travel time but, it comes with a cost. It has completely changed the way I work and interact with my team. I take time in virtual meetings to talk about more than just business to keep that human connection within the team. Not having the ability to walk over to a teammate or another department has created challenges, but I think we have done a great job using the tools at our disposal to overcome them. “

From a sales perspective, who thought they’d miss the travel! “Never thought I’d say I miss being a traveling salesman but I do. Not being able to interact face-to-face “in person” to build those relationships …Zoom calls, team calls, conference calls are ok but not the same as being in person. Maybe we could find a happy medium of the travel I was doing and am not doing now!”

The manufacturing employees really are sacrificing the most. A plant manager notes, “We have pretty much been running at almost full capacity. But the masks are very uncomfortable (common to everyone unfortunately) but it’s a small sacrifice to pay to maintain the health and well-being of other employees you have worked with for years. With many of our plants in hot, humid locations and (too) many days over 100 degrees it was tough. We appreciate it when office staff recognize the sacrifices being made and vice versa really – working from home isn’t always glamourous.”

We also had our employee’s personalities come out with the question…one person asks “I don’t understand why people are ever late to virtual meetings…You don’t have to drive or walk anywhere; all you have to do is login!” Good point.

Many agreed that working at the office offered a separation of work and home. Now it’s all one big work blur! Working from home does take its toll on employees. Not everyone are fans of the experience. One person notes “Working from home is not my cup of tea. I am a people person and I enjoy my routine (workout, get ready for work…like actually wear pants! … and then come into the office. That routine has changed but the cabin fever is setting in.

At the end of the day, you definitely have to work harder to stay connected but having video calls does help keep the human connection intact.

From the Company Perspective …
The fact that the entire organization had to respond in such a short time frame and knowing that everyone was in the same boat helped make the transition successful. Mike Eakins, Chief Executive Officer at KPS Global says “The key to successfully making it work? Flexibility. Everyone has to be flexible and adjust. Our employees and their families have done that. I’m very proud of them.”

Overall, I think we’ve done a pretty good job adjusting. There have been curve balls thrown at us but all in all I think we’ve done ok. There were several departments that had to really adjust the way they serve their stakeholders immediately and that was our IT and Supply Chain departments.

In a matter of days, they worked to convert all office employees to working from home. This was a massive undertaking but they made it happen! As an organization, we’ve embraced Microsoft 365 in the cloud and specifically Microsoft Teams as our collaboration tool. Here are some mind-boggling stats, averaged over the last 6 months:
• 1442 meetings per month
• 22,891 audio streams per month
• 54,423 chat messages per month
This new normal has emphasized the IT departments ability to be flexible. We have taken on new challenges and stretched the working day to support employees in multiple time zones as well as curate technical procedures the average person. One thing we didn’t expect is to see how disparate broadband Internet is between employees. Although we rolled out wonderful technologies, they’re all dependent on the underlying infrastructure. Where people live and what is available effects the adoption and performance of the technologies.

Speaking from a supply chain perspective adapting to COVID has been ongoing. Once you think you’ve locked everything down, another thing arises. The most impactful challenge has been an inability to visit supplier facilities in-person and behind the scenes. Unfortunately, suppliers have been impacted by COVID and are seeing impacts in extended lead times, product unavailability, and shipping shortfalls time and time again. For our Supply Chain team, having multiple vendors and vetting the suppliers on the front end protects us from some of these situations.

From a management perspective, we’ve had to work to stay connected with our teams. All team meetings are encouraged to be done via video conferencing as well as 1:1s. We have held virtual town halls with all employees (huge thanks to IT!) and really work towards maintaining the human connection.  Thank you to all the extraordinary KPS Global employees for making it work in 2020.

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