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ASCM Insights

Safety First — Always

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I’m certain I’m not alone when I say that I crave the opportunity to get back into our offices with my colleagues once again. There’s something special about a casual conversation while riding the elevator or just stopping by someone’s desk to share a story or ask a question. This sense of community is a huge part of ASCM, and missing out on it each day has been dispiriting to say the least. Beyond that, Zoom fatigue is real — hunching over a computer screen 24/7 is no way to live. Again, I’m sure it’s not just me.

So, I understand the desire to get business back to normal. But the fact remains: Our people’s well-being is everything; there is no economy if we don’t have healthy workers.

COVID-19 has been the largest disruption to manufacturing in modern history. Companies everywhere were forced to stop production; furlough employees; and, in some cases, close their doors forever. Many have faced a significant number of their employees contracting the virus. As we hopefully begin ramping up again, organizations must figure out what’s next, always keeping our people at the forefront. While there are no absolutes, agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have offered guidelines to help us reopen safely. Recommendations include avoiding and tracking contact, thorough cleaning and sanitization, implementing physical barriers, providing personal protective equipment, and frequent testing.

Unfortunately, Bloomberg has recently reported that many organizations believe testing is simply too complex and expensive. Diagnostic tests start at about $100 each. Plus, there are serious questions related to access and privacy. According to the article: “Employers, many of whom are already facing massive losses from shutdowns, often find the cost doesn’t make sense. Antigen testing, which screens for active infections and provides rapid and cheap results, has promise, but is only beginning to come to market.”

The Bloomberg authors also note that logistical challenges can add even more difficulty. For example, test results often take more than a week to come in, and supplies continue to be very limited. Furthermore, the CDC estimates that 40% of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, so screenings do not prevent them from coming to work.

Caring for our most valuable resource

Functioning in isolation isn’t easy, but the distancing economy does have a silver lining: It has taught us how to identify and maximize our strengths; devise inventive ways to restructure processes; and take advantage of new, more creative ways of doing business.

In the brand new edition of SCM Now magazine, Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Rennie writes: “The supply chain community has learned how critical it is to maintain regular contact with employees, put in place necessary safety protocols, and let workers know that the company cares about their well-being. After all, it is people who form the foundation of the business and who will ultimately get it back on track.”

This issue of the award-winning SCM Now explores more lessons learned from the pandemic, as well as tips for leading through uncertainty and an innovative approach to creating superior strategic teams that are built on trust and designed for action. The official magazine of ASCM is full of real-world insights and practical solutions from supply chain thought-leaders from across the globe. Take advantage of this key member benefit today.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer at ASCM, the largest nonprofit association for supply chain and the global leader in supply chain organizational transformation and innovation. Prior to this, he was the managing director for the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. His leadership roles have included project management, business process redesign, and individual and organizational alignment. Eshkenazi may be contacted through editorial@ascm.org.

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