As the COVID-19 situation grew more serious, Archway teams knew they had to act. Precautions needed to be taken to keep clients, volunteers and staff safe while our doors remained open for essential services to continue.
While Archway program staff were busy assisting clients, coordinating with funders and transitioning to virtual services, our administrative staff was hard at work supporting them behind the scenes.
From facilities and human resources to accounting and IT, Archway admin staff and leadership came up with dynamic plans and creative ideas to support a rapidly evolving situation and unprecedented uncertainty.
Admin staff at a socially distanced COVID response team meeting.
The Facilities department continues to be integral to managing the developing COVID-19 situation. In early March, hearing reports that the pandemic was growing, they immediately stepped up cleaning protocols. Archway custodians Judy Folster, Teresa Hiebert and Rani Sekhon are fastidious about cleaning washrooms, kitchens, floors, offices and high traffic areas with safety and well-being topmost on their mind.
“Rani knows that if our building isn’t clean then we are at risk. She is doing her part with everything she’s got to protect us, and with a grateful attitude that humbles me,” shared Archway Executive Director Rod Santiago.
The Facilities team has also installed directional signage, plexiglass barriers and hand washing stations to help maintain safe flow of traffic, reduce contact and keep staff and visitors safe.
Judy from Facilities with empty sanitizer bottles.
Information Technology (IT)
Our IT department nimbly engaged “out of the box thinking” as the situation worsened and many staff began self-isolating. They quickly supplied frontline workers with mobile phones, laptop computers and other technology that enabled them to work securely and maintain connections with clients from home.
The IT team has also managed a substantially increased flow of support and training requests; double the “tickets” they normally receive! Despite the demand, they have offered quick and friendly help to staff adapting to new technology, such as remote applications to communicate and hold virtual meetings. The IT department adopted a shift rotation schedule that assured maximum support coverage while maintaining minimal in-person contact with various departments and each other.
IT Supervisor Alvaro Silva and his team were also integral in securing financial relief for the Archway Food Bank from their internet service provider for two months, enabling them to concentrate more on feeding the hungry and less on expenses.
IT ensuring staff can work remotely, securely and effectively.
The Central Support team is truly the “front line” when it comes to assisting visitors to Archway; they’re at the reception desk to assist visitors and provide essential clerical support to all Archway programs.
“We have adapted the reception area and waiting room to follow suggested guidelines, but also remain welcoming and open for our clients,” advised Central Support Supervisor Meredith Lee Sperling. Central Support has also installed plexiglass at the counter to keep both sides safe, highlighted hand sanitizing stations on the walls and put helpful tips and reminders on the foyer TV.
Their team has developed a new rotation of working in-office and from home to increase physical distance while continuing the flow of support, using Microsoft Teams regularly and check-ins to stay on top of their responsibilities.
Crucially, Central Support also manages the PPE program, distributing supplies to Archway programs. They have built relationships with local donors and receive donations of reusable masks and ear savers while sourcing hard to find cleaning materials and disposable PPE.
Accounting Supervisor Melissa Miguel and Payroll Supervisor Robin Rodzinski noted that as the situation developed, their teams transitioned to new circumstances very quickly. They began working in a rotation to maintain increased physical distancing while ensuring Archway programs continued to meet financial responsibilities. Robin even began delivering virtual Group Benefit meetings for new staff.
“I would love to give credit to our finance team in how quickly they adapted to the new normal and embraced technology to deliver accounting and payroll services, in addition to getting ready for the year-end audit without missing a beat,” stated Director of Finance Tina Poudrier-Beck.
Central Support welcoming those needing essential services.
Our Finance team last Halloween.
The Human Resources department has faced unique challenges, supporting staff members who suddenly found themselves in challenging situations. Many staff with children had to stay home without the usual routine of school or the assistance of care providers. Others were out of the country and unable to get back when expected.
HR staff also pivoted to quickly offer new staff onboarding, orientation and training sessions online when the usual in-person meetings became unfeasible. This helped ensure staff members weren’t without crucial information and policies.
Some Archway programs also faced potential staffing changes as they learned it may be a considerable time before they could operate as usual. These highly sensitive situations were handled with respect and care by the human resources department, who understood the stress that came with rapid changes and increased uncertainty.
Marketing and Communications
As the situation unfolded, the Communications team supported the COVID Committee, provided virtual training on communications tools and developed internal and external communications plans to share essential information about new guidelines and operational changes within Archway programs.
They also communicated with programs to keep the website up-to-date, developed multiple social media messages highlighting the supports Archway programs are offering the community and shared guidelines and information from credible sources in a variety of languages.
As we get used to the ‘new normal’ one thing is certain; Archway admin staff are dedicated to supporting our programs so they can continue fulfilling our mission of “justice, opportunities and equitable access for all.”
Archway admin staff in 2019.