Hello Kally,

I have heard of your website from another friend. Your website is very astute and gives real advice without the long list of big words and equally big numbers. Many of your articles are clean and cut to the chase. With that in mind, I hope you are able to shed some light on the issue I have below. 

I managed a team of customer facing agents in a digital storage company. During the lockdown, all of us were working from home. Half of the team are assigned to other departments to help out data entry and administrative work. The other half team was still doing customer support. 

Recently, we are given the green light to go back to office and most of us are happy that we get to get out of the house. People are getting pretty fed up with the video meetings. All except one. That’s my problem. 

Daisy is a very hardworking middle aged lady. From what little I know about her is that she lives with her sister about an hour away from the company. Daisy often kept to herself, prefer to lunch in and always arrive to work early. I always thought perhaps she doesn’t mix well with the others because the rest of the team are very young with this is their first job after graduation.

But Daisy is good with customers, she is always cheerful and never complains or cut corners in her work. She has never give me any problem until now. Daisy called me up the night before we have to report back to office and said she cannot return. When pressed for a reason, she feared that she may bring the virus home to her sister. For the first time, I learned that her sister is bedridden and suffering from diabetes. When Daisy is at work, her sister is cared for by a social worker. 

I told her that she doesn’t have to report to work. However, this cannot go on forever. It has been a few days. My people has started to talk about her absence. I haven’t gone to HR yet. I feared that HR may force me to ask her to leave. 

What should I do? 

Sincerely Yours, 
Jack B.


Hi Jack, 

First of all, thank you for the compliments. I appreciate your visits to my website and leaving me comments. 

Now to tackle your issue here. Daisy sounds like a lovely employee and team member to have. Sure, she may not be as sociable as many of us but it is just her personality and as long as it does not affect her productivity, you have nothing much to worry about. 

You need to acknowledge that her fears are very real. It is not something she made up in her head. There is a risk that she or anyone else be infected with Covid-19. We are all taking precautions while trying to get back our normal lives. On top of fears, she is trying to be protective and careful because she has a loved one who is vulnerable and high risk. 

My suggestion is for you to talk to your supervisor and brainstorm with a plan. Perhaps she can continue to work from home doing other administrative role instead of customer facing role. Or maybe she can work part time instead of full time and maybe have her reporting to work at odd hours so she’ll meet lesser people. Worst case, she can take a few months of sabbatical leave until situation improves. 

With a plan, it is easier to present your ideas to your HR and it also means getting your superior’s support. Bring along her performance report and perhaps getting a few of your team members to put in a good word about her. This will show a human side of Daisy instead of just presenting the numbers.

We are now adjusting to the new normal life where everything is no longer normal to us. It’s time to listen and adjust to her needs. It’s time to think out of the box.

Let me know how it goes. 

Take care and stay safe. 

Regards,
Kally@MiddleMe.net


Interested in how I solve work issues? Here are some of the advices I dished out:
A Word Of Advice: I Hate Retirement
A Word Of Advice: Creepy Colleague
A Word Of Advice: I Hide My Depression
A Word Of Advice: Why Is It So Hard To Land My Dream Job?

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25 replies on “A Word Of Advice: Covid Phobia

  1. Read your post and answer above and wondered what part of the World the question is posted from. Believe in places like Japan and Hong Kong technology is very good – more advanced than many parts of the World.

    But not sure the support that Governments in other places are putting in place at the moment to support businesses who support their employees who are shielding.

    Its a huge push me pull me muddle in our UK but if the employee is shielding and has a customer support telephone role – surely she can do the work from home – by redirecting the calls to her from customers?

    Or if it is customer facing perhaps she can be switched to a telephone role from home.

    Hopefully the Government of her country is encouraging people to work from home if possible and helping businesses financially to support people who are shielding others to look after them – at the moment?

    She sounds like a great employee and needs to be supported

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I can’t specifically point out her location since this is an anonymous post but the writer comes from the States. I will alert the sender of your suggestions and hopefully everything can be worked out so that Daisy can keep her job.

      Like

  2. I understand Daisy’s concern. When I was living with my father about 11 years ago, I got the flu and it was rather severe and I ended up giving it to my father who was elderly. He ended up in the hospital and was so bad that they had a priest give him Last Rites because they thought he was on the verge of dying. Luckily he recovered. And my friend’s mother who had diabetes just died of COVID two months ago.

    You’re right, Kalli, we are in a different world now and hopefully her company will be able to accommodate her. My company is doing a phased reopening but my boss said our department may never go back. Because we’re just as productive at home and actually it works out a lot better for many of us. My friend is the COO of a company in California and they are thinking about getting rid of their swanky corporate office and having everyone work remote.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That must have been a scary situation for you and your father!

      We are in a different world now. Hopefully, that companies will evolve around this and be smart about this.

      Another scary thought is that companies push for remote working to save rental cost but yet deduct employee’s salaries because they no longer need to commute.

      Appreciate sharing your thoughts, Sean.

      Like

    1. Hopefully, she doesn’t lose her job. I have extended the offer to Daisy if she loses her job, I’m going to link her up with some remote gigs that she can do from home to tide over for awhile until she lands a new job.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good advice, Kally. You obviously gave the matter great consideration before you responded, and your thoughtfulness show.

    As you and others have mentioned, Jack and his colleagues need to do thinking of their own, to find a solution that’s both workable and is sensitive to Daisy’s concerns.

    Jack isn’t the only one who should be pondering, though. This is speculation, of course, but it seems to me quarantine made Daisy realize how much she prefers working from home. Perhaps she should ask herself if an office job is best for her situation.

    If there’s one thing the virus has done, it’s opened up the job market to new flexibility. Showing up 9-to-5 at an office still may be the most common condition, but other options gain momentum. If Daisy prefers not to expose herself and her sister, there are alternatives now that never existed before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are absolutely spot on with the job market opening itself with the new flexibility. More important is that employers have to embrace with the possibilities that their employees may want to work remotely or otherwise lose the talented ones to their competitors.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. It is a very thoughtful and helpful advice.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Terrific Guest Post Kally,

    Thanks for sharing it.

    Kally we both have management experience, and know that employee loyalty is nowhere near as common as it was in the “old days.” … To have an employee tat is loyal and performing above the “line”; is REALLY exceptional.

    I’m pretty much home bound myself. I have PAH (Pulmonary Artery Heart condition) and among other thin I am on home oxygen 24/7…. Personally I think it would be a prudent act to find, or even make a job this person can do from home. She VERY likely needs the income. Be creative and generous.

    This would aid this person and give the company a huge PR and moral boost.

    May God BE with Us,
    Patrick

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I believe it is important that Daisy have a stable income. Hopefully, she gets to keep her job and Jack helps her along.

      Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us, Patrick. I do hope that you don’t overwork yourself, take care of your health.

      Like

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