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?
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.
Interested in how I solve work issues? Here are some of the advices I dished out:
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