Keep it Simpler

To re-open, or not to re-open - Part II

Continued from here.

"What are we going to do with the guest?" Rishika asked privately once the team regrouped inside.

"We need to de-escalate the situation", replied Paul, who had called in via phone. "People are on-edge because of the 2 infections reported nearby. If there is an infection in the community, we might be blamed regardless of the facts. What if we try to look for alternative accommodations?"

The team set out to make calls to other hotels nearby. Nobody wanted to take in the guest. Fear was driving people to literally be less accommodating.

An hour passed, then thru the security cameras, they saw the bulky officer come back and park his motorbike in front of the hotel. He was talking to someone over the phone.

Presently, Paul held a small yellow notebook. Inside were notes he liked to refer to whenever he needs to make tough decisions.

The more we rush, the slower we get there.

He read that entry several times.

Even the most careful precautions would risk infection. Paul thought. I wouldn't be able to sleep much if somebody in the team gets infected.

But assuming it's a mild case, we still need to quarantine them, and recall other staff to help substitute. That would put them at risk too. Then we would be even more in the red.

And let's not get started on what manner of punishment the governing powers will bestow.

On the other hand, if we don't risk it, we won't have enough guests to cover payroll and we will also be in the red.

Such is business life in the time of Coronavirus.

There are no simple answers to these questions. But one thing rings true to Paul, regardless of where they find themselves in.

Long-term, what would really matter?

He is playing the long game. He recalled dreams of building a global chain of small hotels. Providing the most welcoming experiences for guests, and the most enabling opportunities for staff just starting out. That dream is still there, it is still possible.

So if all current options point to their downfall anyway, perhaps whether they risk re-opening isn't the most pressing question. Instead, they should first ask themselves, how can we move closer towards our long-term dreams? Even — perhaps especially — at this time of immense uncertainty.

Paul thought of that incident again in March:

"At last! We may have found a place for him!", Rishika reported later that morning.

A rental car driver, who they called on often, mentioned that there is a hotel nearby that might still accept new guests.

Rishika approached the guest who was still waiting patiently in the lobby. She apologized again emphatically for the situation. She then proposed staying at another place to avoid being inconvenienced further. She assured him he won't be sleeping on the streets and that he can come back if necessary. They will figure out a way.

The guest agreed, and off they went.

Half an hour later, Rishika said with a sigh: "We're in luck, the place accepted him".

The team eased-up. Looking at the cameras, the officer is no longer there. The street regained its usual quiet.

Rishika and Paul made sure that all future guests are alerted of the situation. And sent word to the local town that they would like to review and coordinate everything about the new policies.

They just wonder how long can they keep the doors open.

Seven months after, their doors have managed to remain open.

We've made it this far, let's not give up now. Paul thought.

He considered another option. What if they go on offense for a change? Coronavirus has had them playing catch-up all this time.

Even the "Work from home at The Mangrove Inn" campaign they tried yielded little results. As it was mostly business as usual just packaged differently. They need something fundamentally different.

There were re-organization plans that he has been putting off. Especially during this time of great anxiety, he didn't want to risk more confusion in the team. He was afraid to rock the boat. But if the boat is about to be docked soon anyway, then what's the risk?

A major re-org would bring fresh energy to the team and provide a picture of hope that they might come out of this even stronger.

So Paul, Rishika and Melchor set-out to implement an ambitious re-organization plan. It centers on reassignment of roles to stop people from wearing multiple hats. Thereby increasing focus and accountability.

This would mean bringing in additional staff when they barely have enough revenue to cover payroll. It was not a popular decision, but Paul is adamant that the alternative is worse.

The most important part of the plan is to re-invigorate the staff development program. Whereas before they had a loose assortment of casual training modules, this now is an opportunity to build a system for the long haul. One that would continuously move people up in their career.

Half the team is excited about it, the rest is willing to give it a try. At least one is unhappy.

I'll take those odds. Paul thought.

We should have done this a long time ago, anyway. I don't know if it will work, but at least we are not giving up, and we are moving towards our long-term goal. We'll decide if we will re-open only after we've set that in motion.

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