As the world closely monitors and tracks the spread and impact of the new corona virus, business leaders are making decisions about how to mitigate the risk and keep everyone safe and healthy. In the government contracting community, executives are enacting procedures and policies to protect employees, customers and partners while continuing to provide government agencies with the services, solutions and mission-critical support they need.
In this series, WashingtonExec will highlight these leaders and how they are tackling this crisis, in an effort to share best practices in industry and shed light on the virus’ impact on the nation.
Tina Dolph, president and CEO, Siemens Government Technologies
What innovative workplace policies/practices has your company embraced to minimize the impact of COVID-19?
I think it’s important to start by acknowledging these extraordinary times and the unprecedented fight we’re in against coronavirus as a global community — let alone in the government contracting community. And I think the old adage of necessity being the mother of invention is more relevant than ever in framing how we think about our approach to work in this new age of social distancing.
For our business, more than 60% of our workforce was full-time remote before coronavirus, working from home office or customer locations. We’re fortunate to operate in a virtual capacity even during “normal” times, embracing telework across our teams, including in our headquarters office in Reston, Virginia.
The impact of COVID-19 is far reaching and I expect that the lessons learned during these times will fundamentally affect our way of working for quite some time. Communication is critical in times of uncertainty. I’m fortunate to have a strong team of leaders and subject matter experts across the organization, and I’ve leaned on them heavily to ensure we are constantly engaging with all of our key constituencies, whether that’s our employees, customers or suppliers. Clear, accurate and timely information is critical in times of great change and challenge.
What has your company done to keep morale up internally for employees?
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked hard to reduce the level of uncertainty wherever we can, recognizing that it can be difficult to overcome the steady barrage of information across all media channels. Our focus has been on providing clear and consistent communication to our leaders and employees, encouraging collaboration on tackling new challenges as they surface. We’ve worked hard to tailor our focus to the needs of employees by state and country, adjusting in line with the rolling restrictions on businesses and individuals to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Our approach has been centrally led by our Environmental, Health & Safety and Human Resources teams, to develop modified workforce policies where necessary and arm managers and employees with the right information when they need it, keeping our central focus on their health and well-being in all that we do. Being available to our employees and working tirelessly to stay abreast of constantly evolving local restrictions designed to combat the spread of COVID-19 have helped us in rallying the organization together to mitigate risk while providing some sense of stability through this crisis.
How has the policy for travel or attending large conferences changed?
We’ve joined businesses around the world in implementing travel restrictions and social distancing best practices. Early on, we provided our leaders with a clear definition of “business critical” travel and required executive team-level approval for travel exceptions in coordination with our business continuity team. Each of our programs have been carefully evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if necessary travel meets our business critical definition, or if there are alternate means to complete essential customer obligations.
One of our biggest efforts throughout the pandemic planning has been wrapping our arms around our teams working overseas. We have daily virtual meetings with our OCONUS project leads to provide a shared understanding of their challenges and ensure we are meeting all local country protocols while fulfilling contractual requirements to our government customers.