“Why isn’t she saying, ‘Good morning’?” This is the new remote working landscape. It’s easy for things to be misinterpreted in this time of heightened anxiety and harder to manage someone’s schedule when you can’t see them in person.

LSSNY’s Director of HR, Estephanie Betances, is navigating these waters, educating staff members on their rights concerning health care, sick leave, and personal leave during this pandemic. She also works with leadership to notify staff and program participants if a staff person tests positive. She holds video calls with her team once a day, knowing it’s important to check in and maintain some level of normalcy. Her approach is to be fair and flexible and to keep workers engaged with professional development webinars.

Not all of our staff is working remotely. Some employees must still appear in person, such as custodial workers, childcare workers, some foster care workers, and those in our supportive housing programs. To keep employees safer, managers have rearranged schedules to minimize the number of staff present at any given time. This includes staggering work schedules, arranging for double shifts, and making other accommodations. The goal is to be flexible during this trying time while still providing the essential services to the children and adults in our care. 

“Generally people want to work for us because they want to serve the community,” says Estephanie. “It’s probably why we haven’t gotten an influx of people asking, ‘Well, what about me? Why do I have to be in the field?’ People know they are needed. Part of doing a good job is meeting with that person and connecting them with services. If we’re under stress, think about the clients that we serve. Some of them may have lost their jobs already. It’s why I’m not getting a lot of pushback from essential workers. No one wants to be out in the field right now, but our staff understand that there’s a reason why they have to come in on certain days. I hope they also understand that we hear them, we know there is a lot of anxiety and fear, and we will continue to work on taking all necessary precautions to promote their safety and well-being.”

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