Continuity of Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Local governments must begin thinking through key changes in operational support to make certain they are able to meet the critical needs of their community.  

Apr 2, 2020 | BLOG POST

Many local government employees are being stretched thin as essential personnel are required to work to maintain critical operations, while also maintaining social distancing guidelines. What’s more, essential employees with COVID-19 symptoms or who have been in contact with those who have tested positive reduces the availability of essential workforce personnel. If not already addressed, local governments must begin thinking through key changes in operational support to make certain they are able to meet the critical needs of their community.  

Here are some key considerations: 

  1. Identify the critical programs and services that must be delivered.

  1. Consider new ways of operating for both essential and non-essential functions – shift work, telework, nonstandard hours.

  1. Identify positions in non-essential work functions that can meet the need in essential work positions and consider how they may be able to provide needed support during this crisis. 

  1. Consider how to configure work spaces or implement schedules that increase distances between staff. 

  1. Identify and implement technology solutions that allow residents to conduct business virtually. 

Budgets and personnel will be spread thin. There is no way around it. The strategic plans that have been put in place will work in many instances, but you may find yourself having to react tactically to newly emerging realities. That is why we encourage you to participate in ICMA Connect to share and learn how others are addressing problems in their community. Here are just a few examples of what we have seen on ICMA Connect: 

  • Workgroup Configuration (Fairview, Texas): Separated its public works group into three separate workgroups in three separate locations to allow continuity of operations.

  • Shift Schedules (Palo Alto, California): Split shifts of most essential employees into alternating weeks, with one week on site, one week from home to reduce contact and fatigue. Also providing hotel rooms for those who are onsite and want to isolate from their families to reduce potential spread of the virus. 

  • Staff Rotations (Tallahassee, Florida): Implemented a “staff preservation rotation” for front-line employees whereby department directors were asked to develop operation plans based on their unique resource needs and service delivery requirements. Each department created rotations and schedule shifts to reduce contact and also assure essential services could be delivered. Employees whose service levels are currently reduced are being asked to complete annual mandatory training and certification online during this time.  

  • Staff Compensation (Adams County, Colorado): Continuing to pay all exempt and nonexempt employees who are working from home. Nonexempt who work over 40 hours per week will be paid overtime as normal. However, they discontinued building closure pay. Employees required to work onsite or directly with the public will receive an additional stipend. Employees not working at home or onsite will be paid their full base salary, provided they are available during their regular hours and communicate with their supervisor at least once per week. This last group will be the pool of employees first considered to assign to another department if staff requirements change.  

How are you changing work schedules? What types of changes to pay and benefits are you having to consider? What are some of the unique ways you are managing the challenges that you are facing in maintaining operations? Share with us on ICMA Connect

For additional information, visit ICMA’s Coronavirus Resource page.


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