By Andrea Lebron - December 22, 2020
Although many companies have announced plans to delay the full re-opening of their offices until the summer of 2021, some companies have adopted hybrid opening models in which employees will work from home a few days of the week and work in the office on the other days of the week. This will make managing shift vacancies even more critical as more offices reopen.
While hybrid opening models may be suitable for supporting social distancing measures and may help companies hit the ground faster when they do fully reopen, there can be challenges with managing who is in the office and when – especially when short-notice shift vacancies occur.
Multiple reasons for short-notice shift vacancies are occurring - one employee may forget when they are due to be in the office, another may test positive for coronavirus and be required to self-isolate, and a third may be experiencing return anxiety and unable to make the commute.
It may also be the case that an employee makes the commute to work but is clearly unfit to fulfil their role due to an illness. Depending on the company presenteeism policy, that employee will likely be sent home to recover - creating a shift vacancy in the office that may need to be filled quickly.
Although plenty of online calendars, collaboration tools, and wearable devices with scheduling capabilities exist, nothing is as effective for getting a message to an employee as an SMS text message. SMS text messages can reach any mobile device, you don't need an Internet connection to receive an SMS text message, and most people keep their mobile devices within reach at all times.
Therefore, if it would benefit employees to receive a friendly reminder about what days they are working in the office – or what times they are working, if the company is operating a split shift working day – SMS text messaging is the most effective and convenient way to ensure employees do not forget when they are supposed to be working from the office.
If the company has access to a mass texting platform, a great way to reduce time and costs when sending reminders is to group employees working the same shifts together, and schedule group text messages in advance. Mass texting platforms also monitor message open rates and support two-way communications. So, if an employee has not opened a message, or replies to the message to say they can't come in, shift managers can follow up and adjust shift schedules as necessary.
See how the mass texting platform, Rave Alert, works!
When short notice shift vacancies occurs, shift managers have the opportunity to take advantage of the mass texting platform's polling capabilities to fill the shift(s) quickly. Polling can be used in many different ways to support emergency preparedness, business continuity, and workforces who are unable to access the Internet, and it is an excellent solution for easy shift management.
Once an employee has indicated their non-availability to work from the office, the shift manager sends a polling text to employees scheduled to work from home, enquiring about their availability to work from the office. Because the employee database can be segmented into an unlimited number of groups, the text message is only sent to those with the skills to cover the vacant shift.
The text itself has a Q&A format that employees reply to by pressing a key on their mobile device. Answers are collected by the mass texting platform so shift managers can review open rates, responses, and non-responses. A typical shift vacancy message could be:
Q: Are you available to cover a vacant shift in accounts from 2.00pm this afternoon?
#1: Yes – will be there
#2: No – sorry, I have the kids at home.
#3: No – I am self-isolating until the 14th.
The polling capability of the mass texting platform can be configured so the poll remains open for a fixed period of time, or closes automatically once the required number of affirmative replies have been received. The second option prevents the scenarios in which employees turn up at the office to work the vacant shift - only to find it already filled – or when employees call in during the morning to find out if the office-based shift is still available – wasting the shift manager´s time on the phone.
Even if your office has not yet adopted a hybrid operating model, it may still be worth your while contacting us to find out more about the database segmentation and polling capabilities of our mass texting platform – Rave Alert. The coronavirus pandemic is likely to continue beyond the summer of 2021, during which time you can expect the virus to disrupt working schedules.
As mentioned previously, SMS text polling has multiple use cases in addition to being an excellent solution for easy shift management. If you would like to find out more about managing shift vacancies as offices reopen - or how to support emergency preparedness, business continuity, and remote workers with SMS text – do not hesitate to get in touch and request a free demo.
Andrea is Rave's Director of Digital Marketing, a master brainstormer and avid coffee drinker. Andrea joined Rave in August 2017, after 10 years of proposal and corporate marketing at an environmental engineering firm. You'll find her working with her amazing team in writing and producing blogs like this one, improving your journey to and through our website, and serving you up the best email content. When she's not in front of a keyboard, she's chasing after her three daughters or indulging in her husband's latest recipe. Andrea has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing/Management from Northeastern University and an MBA from Curry College.
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