When the coronavirus first showed up on the news I don't think anyone immediately thought it would effect us. It was across the world in China after all. But here we are months later living in what feels like an alternate reality. Washing our hands while singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" along with Royals catcher Salvy, abiding by the "Stay-at-home" order issued by Jackson County and slowly eating all our emotions... or maybe that last one is just me?
By the time County Executive Frank White issued the Stay-at-Home order, we had considered the possibility of having to quarantine at home. We didn't hoard toilet paper, but we did backup our computers and start bringing them home. We announce to our Team how we would handle it, if and when it happened. Then the announcement came, and it created a gray area when it comes to the Construction industry.
The directive related to Construction in the order reads, "... individuals may leave their residence to provide any services or perform any work necessary to the operations and maintenance of "Essential Infrastructure" including, but not limited to, public works construction, construction of housing... airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet and telecommunication systems..."
The two sections relating to construction when defining Essential Businesses are: (Section 9, Article k, ix) "Plumbers, electricians... who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses." (Section 9, Article k, xv) "Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support... necessary to operate"
Clear as mud? We thought so too, so I reached out to Jackson County (on a Sunday evening!) and shockingly the phone was answered, and in a timely manner and I was only passed around to 3 separate individuals... And as it turns out we are a "non-essential business" unless we are providing services to an "essential business". We do work with some businesses clearly deemed essential, such as banks, but what about Optical and Dental offices? That answer, has currently been left unanswered. I do know if we were working for hospitals, the answer would have been a resounding YES.
As a small business, being told we could not work unless we are providing service to essential businesses was scary. We have bills to pay, we have employees who have bills to pay! While we are not excited to be "quarantined" in our respective homes, we are grateful to have homes and that to-date our whole team is healthy. We have some scheduled work at a bank, that will provide some small scale work, but otherwise we are taking this opportunity to grow as a team.
We're using Microsoft Teams and e-mail to keep in touch with our whole team and provide learning opportunities. We've taken a few courses on personal growth topics like "Time Management" and "Active Listening" while also taking important Safety courses like "Silica Awareness". We are actively working on SMART goals. Our "time off" is being used to practice our skills on our homes, from painting and installing doors to tiling and yard work.
While we anxiously wait for this to pass we have committed to paying our Team through the first Month, and re-evaluating if necessary when that time comes. Our Team is important to us, and like I said earlier they have bills to pay too! As our mission statement says "Reliable. Responsible. Reasonable. That is our commitment" That commitment is to not only our customers, but to each other. Finding a solution that worked within our company's financial means and supports our employees was first and foremost on our minds when we learned we would be "off" for an extended period of time.
Under the current order, we can still be here for many of our customers. If there is an emergency please reach out to us. We will still be here for you, within the constraints of the Stay-at-home order. We are looking forward to jumping back in, feet first as soon as we are able.