Scheduling Employees Around Remote and Hybrid School Schedules

October 28, 2020 | 393 views

Scheduling Employees Around Remote and Hybrid School Schedules
Scheduling Employees Around Remote and Hybrid School Schedules

Remember singing Alice Cooper’s classic “School’s Out for Summer” each June, happily dancing as we imagine the freedom promised in our summer? I’m sure we never considered his lyrics a foreshadowing of today: “School’s out for summer…We might not come back at all, School’s out forever…School’s out completely.”

For employees, it’s different. As a manager, you rely on them to work their shifts and physically be on-site when needed. Manufacturing, hospitality and retail workers all have to present for their shifts—working from home is seldom an option. Yet, the majority of employees have school-aged children at home who need supervision. No one can be in two places at once.

What works with inconsistent school schedules or short-notice changes?

The answer to this is not yet entirely known. But there are new covid-related laws mandating the employers provide paid leave if employees need to take care of children whose schools are closed. That can cost a lot of money and doesn’t get production from those employees. The financial toll on both sides might be considerable.

We have blogged about flexible schedules and other ways to keep people safe and businesses moving forward, but here are some other ideas specific to scheduling around closed or partially closed schools:

  1. Understand the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). It is an amendment to the FMLA that directly affects paid leave rights for employees for covid-related needs like caring for a sick family member or a child who is home from a closed (or partially closed) school.
  2. Consider offering childcare for employees. This option might not work at an industrial site, but perhaps a location could be found to provide this most-needed assistance. And remember that if you don’t need it now, regulations change quickly. Have a back-up plan to implement if schools have to revert to online-only options. At least you’ll keep employees working their shifts.
  3. Schedule around school schedules. Hybrid school schedules, for example, require that students be at school a few days each week. Try to schedule employee schedules for those same days to fit the needs of employees and their families. Keep in mind that the FFCRA applies to hybrid or partial school closures, so it is wiser for businesses to pay for work hours rather than hours for employee leave.
  4. Expand remote work options if possible. Maybe some administrative tasks can be completed remotely and then implemented at the worksite. Things like phone calls, reports, one-on-one meetings are all appropriate to do from home with a little planning.
  5. Encourage internal problem-solving. Allow employees to use company message boards to connect with others at work. They can then coordinate babysitting responsibilities or share tutoring and homework assistance based on their scheduled work shifts.
  6. Loosen scheduling guidelines. And then support it. Most of your staff want to work and need the money (and a break from the kids), so develop easier processes for trading shifts and hours. Using a solid and simple scheduling app would ease this load for employees requesting changes and for managers who can approve changes quickly.

This school year is fraught with uncertainty. Employees are concerned and burdened with homeschooling while managers desperately need reliable coverage. Stay creative and become adept at flexing schedules for employees when school is out completely. Hopefully, school will not be out forever. 

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. For many years, Atlas Business Solutions has been named one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies.

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