Voices    Coronavirus

VOICES: Molly Gaffney-Keebler // Returning to work in a pandemic

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By Molly Gaffney-Keebler, owner of Spherion in Asheville, NC. This is a contributor-submitted Voices piece. Want to join the conversation? We invite you to write for us. Learn how to share your voice here.

Anyone who has been to Asheville can attest to its unique atmosphere, pleasant climate, and beautiful scenery. These were the reasons for our move here. My husband and I came for the mountains, but we stayed for the people. What truly differentiates Asheville from other places is its dedication to community. Small businesses thrive because of this focus on supporting our neighbors and shopping locally. We knew we wanted to be a part of this city in whatever capacity we could, which is why we decided to open Spherion Staffing and Recruiting. Although we faced many challenges, growing this business and giving back to such a wonderful city has been more than worth it. This remains true as we’ve confronted the global pandemic. 

The spread of COVID-19 poses new threats that we’ve all had to adjust to. We recognize the importance of finding work for our employees and staff for our clients, but our main focus will always be the health and well-being of everyone. It can be difficult to reconcile the two, but we are confident that if any community can do it, it’s Asheville. Businesses large and small are adopting new rules, regulations, and procedures to ensure everyone’s safety. Spherion has followed suit and changed our operations to navigate this new normal.

Implementing creative solutions

For one, we’ve split our Spherion team in half so while one group works from home, the other mans the office. This allows us to operate at full capacity without risking our team’s safety. For new applicants, we’ve modified our interview process to a more digitized approach. We’ve transitioned to phone and video interviews with applicants, which enables us to really get to know them before scheduling an in-person interview. This reduces the amount of foot traffic coming in and out of our office.

Our in-person interviews are now made for 15-minute increments and by appointment only. During them, we require our staff and applicants to wear face masks and maintain social distance. We also disinfect all tables and chairs before and after all interviews.

Many of our clients’ workspaces have also been rearranged. Overall, we’ve seen a large uptick in precautionary measures. These include checking temperatures, providing extra space in work areas, setting up sanitation stations, COVID questionnaires, and hiring designated custodial staff to perform scheduled cleanings of high trafficked areas.

What employees need to know

Businesses in Asheville are doing their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but this responsibility does not solely rest on their shoulders. It is equally important for our employees to follow CDC guidelines, including wearing a face mask, staying home when you are sick, maintaining social distance, and practicing proper hygiene. These precautions and solutions work, but only when everyone follows them. Every individual must participate in this effort, otherwise normalcy won’t be possible.

I believe in Asheville now just as I did when we first moved here. Our community is strong because the people within it have always supported each other. Because of that, we will find our way to a productive, successful future. I am proud to be part of such a diverse community and glad to be a partner to those who are looking for employment opportunities and companies needing help finding staff. I have and will continue to say, “We’re in this together!”