May 28, 2020
Doing the important work of an essential industry during a pandemic takes determination, an unflagging attitude to serve, and a deep level of caring for others. Learn how this rising star helps manage production during challenging circumstances.
The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted companies, individuals, and communities across the globe. At UniFirst, some processes and routines have changed in order to follow the CDC recommended guidelines for helping to keep essential workplaces healthy and safe. In this first of a new series, Adriana Lowry, UniFirst Assistant Production Manager in Charlotte, North Carolina shares her insights about how her job has changed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what makes her most proud of how her team is navigating through it together as a #UniFirstFamily.
The interview has been edited and condensed.
What did your day-to-day look like at work before COVID-19?
For me, no day is the same. Before COVID-19, I began my day every morning by greeting my team of 50 employee Team Partners at their workstations. I would balance my time between the production floor, where we hygienically launder more than a million pounds of laundry each month, and my office. I value establishing meaningful relationships in the workplace and supporting my team in action, while still being the critical communication link between our sales, service, and production department personnel.
As an essential worker, how has your day-to-day changed due to COVID-19?
COVID-19 has impacted our operations in many ways, and with critical CDC recommended guidelines changing daily, I am constantly monitoring the new safety measures so that I can effectively implement them at UniFirst. The new safety-based protocols at UniFirst have transformed the way we work so that we can help ensure that all our employees remain as safe and as healthy as possible.
Today, I begin each day by greeting our production employee Team Partners outside before they even enter our facility and I perform a health-screening on each one of them. I start by asking them a series of health-related questions to determine if they are fit to enter the building. If they’re exhibiting any signs of illness and, therefore, posing a potential risk to others, they would need to be sent home. At this juncture, our Human Resources team would be contacted for detailed guidance.
Throughout the day, I am constantly educating our employee Team Partners about the facts associated with COVID-19 and the precautionary, preventative measures provided by the UniFirst leadership team and our President and CEO, Steven Sintros. We provide all our staff with alcohol-based hand sanitizer at every work area and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as face masks and disposable gloves. UniFirst’s workplace has transformed to help ensure safety by creating barriers between workstations that are approximately six feet apart, reducing the capacity in our break room to one person per table, and enforcing social distancing in every area of the plant by placing neon-colored tape notating six-feet distances. We eliminate unnecessary face-to-face interactions within our office by using phone communication as much as possible. Our incredible maintenance team at UniFirst is consistently, diligently, and effectively disinfecting our facility, from top to bottom, and throughout each workday.
By updating my employees on COVID-19 and boosting morale, it helps combat inaccurate information or gossip outside of work. Most of all, it helps keep everyone happy and calm, so they feel comfortable and safe coming to work.
What is your biggest lesson/takeaway from all of this?
My biggest takeaway from all of this is that we are “stronger together.” I found that full participation is critical in overcoming this dangerous pandemic. I have been so proud of UniFirst and our team here in Charlotte; everyone is working together to help keep each other safe, every day. Without full cooperation from our employee Team Partners, our essential customers in the healthcare, food processing, and supermarket industries, as well as first responders and other essential businesses, would not be able to continue running without UniFirst’s hygienically clean uniforms and workwear, facility service cleaning products, and PPE. I am beyond thankful to have fellow employee Team Partners who genuinely care about each other and our customers, and continue to come to work each day.