If you’ve never had the chance to visit our shop, we are an upbeat, hardworking crew that thrives on engagement, interaction, and collaboration. If you walked into Westminster Tool right now, however, the shop would seem very different. While still upbeat and hard at work, the way we interact has had to adapt to the changes brought forth while facing COVID-19. With 25% of our team working remotely now, we can’t quite collaborate like we are used to, however, we are still operating at full capacity and embracing the new challenges as they arise. Here’s a little bit of a deeper look at what life at Westminster Tool looks like amidst COVID-19.
To remain in operation, we have implemented precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of all our employees. From the start, we have been tracking the information as it was released from the CDC regarding best practices. Here are a few of the things we have put into place in order to stay in operation.
Early on, the CDC made it clear that the best way to protect ourselves was to limit our contact and exposure. As a company that has a focus on working closely with one another, this was difficult to adjust to. To comply with social distancing guidelines, we had to drastically alter our day to day interactions. One of the primary impacts of this was our daily morning meetings. Our all hands meeting, where every member of the company comes together to share information, expected shipping needs, and any news, has been transferred into an e-mail thread that we start each morning. Our functional team meetings, where we work on improvements, discuss our schedules and any flow impeders to hitting our metrics, has also been transferred into a digital format using Microsoft Teams. Luckily for our Sales & Engineering Team, this has not slowed down their progress with improvements. They recently updated the quote form and mold design workbook to include sections that highlight, address, and mitigate risks for projects.
Some other ways we have promoted social distancing are:
- Limiting any essential office personnel to 1 per office.
- Enabling all employees capable of working from home to do so.
- Setting up a second shift to further spread out employees throughout the shop, as well as support families who need extra flexibility to adjust to schools being closed.
To further prevent potential contamination, we have stopped bringing in any non-essential visitors. We have switched to phone interviews and conference calls for any meetings we had scheduled. Lastly, all visitors deemed essential such as machine technicians are going through a screening process which includes taking their temperature using a touch free thermometer before they are allowed entrance to the shop floor.
Because it is important to our operation for our employees to stay in contact with each other, we have been utilizing different resources to stay connected. Software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams allow us to interact with one another via instant messaging, screen sharing, and video chat. This allows us to continue to work as a team even from separate locations. While not ideal, we are still able to collaborate on projects and get together with our local teams daily. We have even been hosting virtual mold samplings with our customers.
These resources can also be used to boost morale and have fun. It is important right now to get creative with socializing while adhering to social distancing recommendations. Recently, we began using them to host a virtual happy hour after work to socialize, as many of us have not left our homes for several weeks. We have had themed nights such as “Introduce Your Pet” “Trivia” and soon will be hosting virtual BINGO. By utilizing group collaboration software, everyone can get together to share, laugh, and play games all from the safety and comfort of our own homes.
With all the constantly changing information being released regarding COVID-19 we decided to be the primary resource for our team. We have created a file structure specifically for this virus where we can educate our team on the virus symptoms, how it spreads, and how to care for someone who has been exposed. These are updated as often as daily as new information is released.
With the shortage of two key items necessary to reduce the spread we decided to take matters into our own hands. We purchased five gallons of hand sanitizer as well as small refillable bottles which we have used to distribute to our team and their families since it has been difficult for them to find any in stores. We also found two local individuals we could support who are sewing masks for alternative income and purchased every employee one. A local cleaning service, Naturally Clean LLC, has been producing homemade cleaning supplies which we have been using to sanitize common areas in the shop. It is important to us to not only support our community but also to ensure our team has the tools they need to stay healthy.
For the Community
With our doors still open, Westminster Tool is working to help our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have donated any extra gloves and masks we had to local healthcare facilities. We are also utilizing the tools we have to help the medical professionals currently battling this virus. Our blog on how Westminster Tool is using 3D printing, highlights some things we have been using additive manufacturing for in the shop. However, due to the pandemic, we have shifted our focus from utilizing our 3D printing capabilities for design prototyping, to utilizing this tool to create items our medical professionals need.
The item we are currently producing is an ear protector for people using face masks. With the constant pressure face masks place on the ears, many medical professionals are left in pain after each shift. A solution to this, ear protectors that work by shifting the tension of a face mask from sitting on the top of the ears to being held back by the plastic guard, can easily be created using 3D printing. We did some research into this and began using this online template to create as many ear protectors as possible using our 3D printing capabilities to provide medical professionals with some relief.
Lastly, we are committed to supporting our community businesses and friends who have not been able to maintain their workforce or keep their doors open. We consistently share amongst ourselves restaurants that are still open, food pantries that need donations, and individuals that are getting creative to generate a new form of income. We know that together we will all get through this time!