Employee Mobility & The Pandemic: Non-Essential Retail

by | Apr 22, 2020

In what felt like the blink of an eye, we saw malls close down, retailers of all shapes and sizes lock their doors, and employees become furloughed without any knowledge of when they will return.

Many organizations are now in the “dust settling” phase of the Coronavirus where, while things aren’t re-opening yet, there is still no shortage of work to be done – from communicating with furloughed or part-time workers, administering day-to-day tasks that still exist, and planning for the eventual re-opening. The thing that many retailers are now realizing is that all of the above goals would be dramatically easier if they had a mobile communication/management tool in place across their organization. And while some of these businesses may not be deemed “essential” like grocers and pharmacies, the challenges they face are no less daunting as they plan for kickstarting their businesses.

If we look at the current “dust settling” phase for these “non-essential” organizations, there are two main reasons that such a solution would be so valuable: i) ongoing communications with employees during this period of downtime and ii) preparing for (a reduced) re-opening.

Luckily, in those conversations with retail leaders, we’ve helped them in either creating or improving their mobility strategy to fulfill and support these two key components:

Within the first portion of ongoing communications, organizations can:

  • Use mobility platforms as a form of communication with their store managers but also any furloughed employees – providing them updates on the current situation and what the business is doing to prepare for the employees’ return;
  • Provide policies, process changes and store-based plans to their managers & furloughed employees through mobile communication channels; and
  • Take advantage of “down-time” to provide new (or newly made for mobile) training for employees to prepare for new roles (health & safety) or role-flexibility (available role, never trained on)

As we move into preparing to re-open, organizations should be:

  • Providing new mobile task lists to prepare employees and managers before re-entering their store, also before opening to the public – ensuring health & safety measures are implemented;
  • Opening a “shift marketplace” where furloughed employees, upon returning to work, can select shifts and roles to meet their (and their location’s) need; and
  • Setting up mobile punching for hourly employees upon returning, which will allow them to avoid methods handled by multiple people (punch-in clocks, back-office computer, paper records).

If your organization doesn’t currently have a mobility strategy or has one but would like to know of ways to improve or update it, feel free to reach out to me or your Axsium account representative. We will gladly do a free consultation to help you identify opportunities for you and your organization. Feel free to reach out to me via email at amartel@axsiumgroup.com


Andrew Martel
Employee Mobility Practice Lead
Axsium Group

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