The weather is like the government, always in the wrong.
Jerome K. Jerome
Today they are predicting a wintery mix of snow and ice between the hours of 2:00pm and 5:00pm. The temperature will rise to upper 30s by 6:00pm. Typical St. Louis weather. So, what’s a company to do?
Right down the hall from our office is a company booming with employees, while the next two offices down the hall are closed. Across the hall, another company is operating with a skeleton crew. It is interesting how different companies manage inclement weather.
Company A operates on a “snow day” schedule. That is, they alert their employees 24 hours in advance that workers will be expected to arrive to work at 6:00am and leave at 2:00pm. The weather prediction determines the hours. Employees must take a PTO if they cannot make it in and may take a partial day if they cannot stay the full eight hours. These people are all tasked with non-demand work. Their snow day plan works for them and their productivity does not suffer.
Company B closes its doors. Employees must take a PTO if they want to get paid during the closure. Company B relies on clients to come to their office and when the clients start canceling due to a weather scare, the company simply cancels the remaining clients and closes shop. Again, this works for them but means their productivity for the day is zero.
Company C closes its doors too but allows staff to work from home. Some workers are tasked with non-demand work and others are required to handle phone calls and inquiries. Customers do not come to their office. Their problem is that even though they allow employees to work from home, they know the workers will be less productive since their children are not in school. Their productivity runs about 50 to 60% for the day. Their employees love the idea, but the company recognizes that it is not the best way to handle the situation.
Company D allows for flexible scheduling. Some employees do demand work and others non-demand. Since flex scheduling was available for non-demand work, some employees started their day at 5:00 am, others came in later but will leave by 2:00 pm. Because they have flexible scheduling many have already worked an hour longer yesterday in anticipation of the storm and will work an hour longer tomorrow and the next day. For the brunt of the storm these employees will be comfortable and warm in their home. However, flexible scheduling is not possible for those that do demand work. That is, if you are scheduled to take phone calls from 9:00 am to 5:00pm, you cannot come in at 6:00 am and work until 2:00 pm. There will be a glaring hole in the schedule with no coverage for three hours and too much coverage for three hours. Their solution is to allow the employees who work after 2:00 pm finish their shifts at home. Thus, they work some of the hours in the office and part of the time at home. Company D experiences higher rates of productivity than Company C.
The moral of the story is that weather effects your workforce. Your workforce management scheduling system should work to give you the best possible coverage for the number of employees who can show up to work. Your workforce performance system should make covering shifts possible, trading shifts possible, and guide you on whether you need to call in a BPO if your company’s attendance dips. The inclement weather effects businesses differently, employ a workforce management scheduling tool that works with your company’s special needs. Don’t forget your absence management tool – lots of PTO will be taken on those days.
Oh. . . In typical St. Louis fashion . . . it never snowed today as was predicted.