The Big Dilemma

Decisions are changing on plans, policies and procedures

Posted online

With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 has been a year of change that’s touched every industry in business. Supply chain challenges, increasing remote work and adjusting office spaces have all been on the table for employers.

As COVID-19 began to spread in March, companies were forced to reexamine policies and procedures to address safety for their employees, while juggling challenges – both the everyday and pandemic-related – in their business. Preparation and the ability to adapt are keys, company officials say.

Leaders in variety of fields speak to the challenges and changes they’ve faced in the past several months.


“The beauty of our work is that most roles in the organization can work remote. In Springfield and some of the other communities where we’re at, there’s a limited workforce, but we try to fill up our offices as much as we can. Generally, we hire first for one of the offices, but if there’s a better candidate that is remote, we consider that.”
–Todd Nielsen, chief strategy officer, 
JMark Business Solutions Inc.

“We have, at some point, plans to grow into a larger building. Now that this has happened, we kind of realize that most people are able to work remote. Especially in our field, teams rarely need to come back to the office now. We learned we were being a little bit inefficient with our office space. … We have a little bit to grow in the space that we have. But I wonder once we start bringing people (back) if that changes.”
–Kevin Waterland, general manager and co-owner,
 Pitt Technology Group LLC

“After we started coming back (in mid-May), we realized even though this is a new building and we have all kinds of space, we still were too close to each other. So, we got plexiglass panels to put between us because our studio is wide open and we have cubicles with no walls. … We didn’t want to kill the spirit of collaboration, so the plexiglass still allows that open dialogue without putting anybody in jeopardy. The amount of cleaning supplies we have is literally at every possible station. We want to make sure we’re satisfying everyone’s comfort level.”
–Beth Keeling, business manager, 
Paragon Architecture LLC

“We didn’t want to ever put our entire team at risk at one time, so we divided into two teams on the showroom and we would work a week in the office kind of consecutively. That way, if we did have exposure, we didn’t lose the entire office. So, we worked on that type of system until Aug. 1, when we brought everybody back in. We learned a lot – in the end, we’re better off together.”
–Audrey Garard, co-owner, 
Grooms Office Environments

“FaceTime presentations on designs and FaceTime presentations on watches and such, especially with COVID, we’ve all had to adapt. Being able to communicate on FaceTime and Zoom videos – my gosh, I’d never heard of it until a couple of months ago – and now here we go. That’s helping us to scale our business. It’s helping us to manage more projects.”
–Rick McElvaine, co-owner, 
Maxon Fine Jewelry

“We’re going to make more exceptions, talking about sick policy or talking about working from home – things we weren’t maybe willing to budge on before, we’re just going to figure it out. Let’s keep talking about it. If it’s working, it’s working. It kind of throws policy out the window, but when you’re a small business, you can be really flexible. We can decide on that day what’s working for us or not.”
–Audrey Garard, co-owner, 
Grooms Office Environments

“Our revenues did slip simply because of the people shortage. We had to cut back, so we limited our spending, limited our travel. We cut back on things that we would normally be spending. We did have to do a freeze on raises and money. We even took a cut for a period of time. We’ve got that reinstated. The wheel is moving. It’s not moving as quickly as we’d like to see, but it’s moving. You can’t stop; business has got to go on.”
–Paula Adams, president, 
Penmac Staffing Services Inc.

“As an essential business, we were able to remain open during the onset of the pandemic. Frankly, some of our highest revenue producing months have occurred since that initial shutdown. Most of the business during those months came from personal health care companies and food and beverage clients. At this point, we feel like any revenue fluctuations we are seeing are due to anticipation of the upcoming election.”
–Nikki Holden, president, 
Custom Metalcraft Inc.

“Supplies were a significant part of the problem. We deal with hotels and things like that, so you end up with a large order of TVs that are very backordered. In some situations, 60-90 days backordered on top of what already takes 90 days to get. That can be pretty stressful when you’re trying to open a hotel and there’s not TVs to put in the hotel. On the (information technology) side, we did run into some shortages early on with laptops. It seemed like everybody had that thought at the same time that we better order a bunch of laptops. Those sold out across the nation and we had to put some customers on hold.”
–Kevin Waterland, general manager and co-owner,
 Pitt Technology Group LLC