As the world is reeling with social distancing, school closures, stay at home orders state wide, and other business interruptions due to the Coronavirus, child care businesses are struggling to make decisions that are in the best interest of their staff, children, and the health of the general public all while struggling to stay afloat.
It’s an almost impossible position to be in.
To share with you some of the tough decisions that our current Child Care Success Academy members have made since the COVID-19 crisis has taken a hit on the industry, here is a brief “state of the industry”:
- About 60% of our hundreds of clients across North America remain open as of today, and are offering parents reduced fees and/or stay-at-home digital classes if they opt to keep their kids at home.
- Others have temporarily closed because either they want to be socially responsible in their efforts to slow the spread, their attendance dipped to an all time low because families are keeping their kids home, or their state or county mandated closures of child care programs.
- Many center owners are opting to keep some of their team working from home even if they are closed. Others are doing their best to keep everyone working at the center even though they don’t need a full staff.
Whatever position you are in right now due to this Corona Crisis, your landscape at work has likely changed so our CCSC team wanted to help you out with ideas to help you and your staff adjust to the “new normal” – at least for the next couple weeks (or months???).
Things That Can Be Done From Home (or at the Center – If You Are Slow)
Directors & Admin Team
- Any back-burnered projects or ideas that you could never get to when life was too busy to keep up with.
- Regular paperwork to keep up with licensing, accreditation, subsidies, CACFP, grants, and similar items.
- Dig in to ChildCareCRM, Pro-Care, Smartcare, Kangarootime – whatever child care management tools you are using – and clean up your data. Make sure you are up-to-date, tasks are marked complete, information is complete, required documentation has been logged, etc.
- Set up email drip campaigns for prospects.
- Build, update, or redesign e-packets or lead magnets
- Do a complete audit on your child and staff files. Be sure that files contain the required forms and are stored according to your filing system.
- Conduct virtual 1:1’s with your team via zoom or other online video chat option.
- Create team and client surveys for future use.
- Update your website – GrowYourCenter.com can help you with this
- Update your crisis plan to include emergency government shutdowns and/or health related issues.
- If your building is empty or you have lower attendance it might be the perfect time to set up a virtual or 360 tour.
- Set up online tour scheduling followed by a reminder drip campaign.
Teachers, Cooks & Support Staff
- Lesson planning – get waaaayyy ahead.
- Summer Camp planning.
- Create new classroom labels.
- Clean, disinfect, and reorganize classrooms (individually or in small groups)
- Get on Facebook Live and provide some virtual classroom time for your families
- Put together packets of goodies (coloring, crafts, playdough, books, etc) for families that are self-isolating at home. (You could have them available for pick up, or mail/ship, or possibly personally deliver to families)
- Get ahead writing blog posts or newsletter articles to be used in the near future.
- Plan your social media calendar, create posts, and schedule them out in advance.
- Update classroom procedures/instructions for your operations manual.
- Work on professional development or their CDA.
- Cut out “stuff” for future bulletin boards or crafts.
If You Are Closed, Here Are 5 Tips for Team Communication While Working From Home
1. Create a System – There are a ton of online collaboration tools to help you work remotely, manage projects, and share files. You need to decide which systems will work for you and decide how they will be used. For instance, you can communicate by text, Slack, WhatsApp, and email, but if everybody is using a different system, messages can get lost and it can be an inefficient use of your time. Be sure to train your team on which tool to use when, and the proper use of each tool.
Here are several online tools to consider for better communication and collaboration:
- Document storage and sharing – Examples: Google Docs, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and other cloud based file sharing options
- Video Conferencing – Examples: Slack video calls, Google Hangouts, Zoom, GoToMeeting
- Scheduling – Examples: Google Calendar, Calendly, AppointmentCore
- Project/Task Management – Examples: Shared Google Sheets, Trello, Asana, Monday.com, Evernote, Google Tasks. Be sure to train your team on which tool to use when, and the proper use of each tool..
2. Have Some Ground Rules – It’s important to establish your expectations if you are allowing staff members to work from home. Be sure to think about expected working hours, time-tracking systems, maintaining accountability and scheduling checking-in’s, participation expectations for video meetings (show camera, mute when not talking, participation, etc). Once you establish your work from home ground rules, be sure that you communicate them with your team. One of the ground rules could be to “Stay Flexible.” This is important, especially if having staff work from home is new to you, because as you start doing it, you may discover better systems or ways to work with the tools you are using.
3. “Go to Work” at Home – As tempting as it may be, don’t work from home in your jammies or set up your remote office in your bed. Actually get dressed, create a “workspace” or a home office area, and treat the day as if you are going to your place of business. You will be more productive when you are dressed and ready for your day and have a dedicated workspace. (Trust me, I have been working remotely for almost 4 yrs, it makes a difference.)
4. Build Connections with Your Team – Working from home can feel very isolating at first, especially if you are not used to it. That’s why it is important to go out of your way to build connections and relationships with your team.
Here are a few ideas:
- To help with team bonding, allocate portions of remote meetings for chatting about non-work activities, ice-breaker games, and catching up on company news.
- As the leader, you can keep things positive by giving virtual shout outs to team members for their contributions. You can do this by posting in your private team Facebook page, in your Slack or communication app, to start off a video conference meeting. Get your team involved in giving shout outs to other team members too.
- Create some fun contests for your team. The sky’s the limit on creativity for this one. It could be as silly as wearing a funny hat to conference calls and voting on the best one or as serious as who made the most personal connections (phone calls home, for example) with clients that are self-isolating.
- Encourage participation from everyone that is part of your remote meetings by asking them to share their ideas and stories.
- Create subgroups based on projects they are working on. Set up a dedicated Slack channel or group chat for them and allow them to video conference in smaller groups to collaborate on projects.
5. Over-Communicate – In a child care setting, employees are used to working together onsite. They are used to having casual conversations and finding out the latest “news” directly from each other in the course of normal conversations and interactions at work. It is very hard to duplicate that degree of human connection when working from home.
This is why it is super important to be intentional about communicating daily with your team. Share the latest news with them and updates about what’s happening – when you plan to reopen, feedback or news from families, policy or procedure updates, etc.
It might seem like overkill to you, but it’s okay to repeat some messages/info. For instance, you might not have anything new to share some days but you can still reach out to see how everyone is doing and include the same bullet points you sent them two days ago below your new message as a recap of everything you want your team to know. The more they hear from you the better. It will help them feel connected and remembered.