The Hidden Costs of Work During a Pandemic

Ed Wenck | May 06, 2020

Inevitably, inexorably, the world will slowly go back to work. In U.S. states such as California, Governor Gavin Newsom has described the re-opening of his state as akin to slowly turning up a dimmer switch as opposed to a widespread flip to “on.”

Fortunately, a lot of what CEDIA firms do is classified as “essential,” especially items such as home networking and connectivity, security, and others. But as technicians continue to enter jobsites, new guidelines from OSHA make it clear that there are products and processes that are a must for employers – and those come with a cost.
Find the latest OSHA guidelines here.
Personal protective equipment – PPE – has been in short supply, and the cost of those materials – everything from gloves to booties to the N95 face mask – has gone up in the past few months, but “surge production” and more localized supply chains may ease some of those issues. Still, purchasing and restocking these items are a line-item most integrators likely didn’t have on their books until recently, and those costs have to be figured into the overhead of the new reality.
But there’s a bigger cost issue here, says Leslie Shiner, longtime CEDIA instructor and founder of the firm The Shiner Group. Given social distancing and the necessary procedures that need to be followed (including the proper wearing and disposal of masks, gloves, and so on), “It’s going to take perhaps twice as long for an employee to do a job,” says Shiner. Need to send two people to a site who must stay six feet apart? Maybe you’ll have to roll two trucks where you used to send one.
“You’ve got to bake into your project management what those expected inefficiencies are going to be,” Shiner notes.