Rhett Persaud, who normally serves the Lab as an Emergency Management Specialist, found himself in a new role in April shortly after the Lab went into a curtailed operation at the start of the shelter-in-place. Rhett was tapped to form a new group with a unique purpose — to answer questions from employees about the Lab’s operations and COVID-19.
Rhett quickly set up a mini call center, with Julie Glover and Deborah Warner from the Travel Office taking calls. Rhett had to scramble to get the team cell phones so they could take the calls and worked with IT to set up a new phone number for people to call.
In addition to the phone, questions also came from email and from a feedback form on the Lab’s COVID-19 webpage. That gives those with questions three ways to get information – by calling 510-486-5000, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by using the Google form.
Rhett took a few minutes to answer a few more questions.
Elements: What type of questions do people ask when they contact your team?
Rhett: Since we started, we’ve answered over 200 inquiries. Most of them fall into several categories, which include health such as health safety measures, and process or how do we do things in a new way? The basic answer to most of the questions is to wash your hands, wear your face cover, and stay at least six feet away from each other. And be friendly. Just because your face is covered doesn’t mean you can’t smile.
Elements: What is the trend you’ve been noticing in the past few weeks as the Lab settles into a more steady-state?
Rhett: We’ve noticed more anonymous feedback, reports of people congregating and not wearing face covers, or two people riding in a Lab vehicle which is not allowed. Sharing these stories anonymously doesn’t help. If there is a training issue we need details so we can talk to that person’s supervisor, or if it is a contractor, the company. We won’t reveal your information; we want to get the issue corrected. And we want to respond so you know that your concerns and voices are being heard.
Elements: What has surprised you most in setting up this unique COVID Call Center?
Rhett: I’ve been surprised by the number of people who want to talk. We tell them where the information they want is on the COVID webpage, but often the person wants to chat. It’s hard being alone, and our team members are all good active listeners. We want to know how your day is going or if there is anything else you need. We’re happy to keep people connected at the Lab.