The moral battle business owners are facing regarding keeping the doors open through the pandemic, or closing them.
A pandemic is not just a test of our mettle, but also our morals.
In our case, construction is considered an essential service. But under these unusual circumstances, is replacing an old counter top with a new one really essential? Is it life or death to delay that kitchen remodel by a few months if it means keeping all parties involved safe? On the other side, shelter is most definitely an essential part of life. We require a roof over our heads and bedrooms for our kids to sleep in. I’m positive that there are a lot of people with plans in place to move into their new homes, and COVID-19 does not care.
As business owners we also need to consider our tribe – our crew – our team. My experience with construction workers is that the majority of them are living paycheck to paycheck and do not have a lot wiggle room when it comes to missing hours. Since the beginning of time, construction workers have been trading services with risk for some sort of payment. As an example, every day framers walk the top of 2×6 walls two stories high while balancing 2×10’s on their shoulders. So when we have team meetings and I ask the crew what they want to do, of course they want to continue to take the risksin order to provide for their families.
With usual working conditions, we are in a position to lead our crew and decide on best practice.
Given the current state of events, my suggestion is to focus on truly essential services. Reschedule the non-essentials to a later date and focus on exterior work when possible. Be a leader of your team and spend the necessary time to evaluate risk and how to lower it. Be a leader and make the unpopular decision to close the doors and ride it out if the risk is too high. Health comes before profit and morals come before deadlines.
Good luck out there and stay safe.