Experts say it takes between 16 and 254 days to develop a habit. The average time is 66 days. What’s considered a habit? According to an article on www.healthline.com, habits are “actions that are triggered automatically in response to contextual cues that have been associated with their performance.” The article notes, “The brain likes habits because they’re efficient. When you automate common actions, you free you free up mental resources for other things.”
We are essentially trying to change habits and develop new ones as we ease back into civilization after a three-month-long isolation period. We’re trying to come to a “new normal” by changing or developing new habits. This entails breaking some old habits. These habits are not necessarily bad. How many times have you seen an old friend and run up to hug her? How many times have you extended your hand to shake a business associate’s hand? Countless. These are habits that we’ve learned and developed over time. Social distancing is trying to change all that. We automatically walk directly up to a person and stand within three feet of them to hold a conversation. We stand within one foot of the person in front of us while waiting in the grocery line. These are hard habits to change. (Imagine how difficult it is for close talkers and close standers!)
It’s been about three and a half months (over 100 days, but who’s counting?) since the Covid-19 shut-down orders were given in mid-March. One could guess that we were in lock-down just long enough to develop habits that carried us away from how we normally do business. That means we have to give ourselves time to get back into the groove of business – timing, socialization, strategizing.
How have your habits and those of your employees and customers been changing? Last month, we offered suggestions on best practices to deep clean your warehouse and the surrounding environment as employees return to work. How are these strategies helping you to foster new habits?
- Are your staff members adhering to the rules you’ve set forth? If not, figure out why. Perhaps you didn’t bring employees back in shifts, but all at once, and it was overwhelming for everyone.
- Have your delivery people been cooperative with any mandates you’ve put in place? Have the people on the receiving dock been diligent about the high-touch surfaces and constantly touched paperwork? If not, consider some automation software that will keep paper-passing to a minimum and increase the job efficiency.
- Add to your cleaning crew so that everyone gets in the habit of continuous cleaning of workstations and storage stations. Adopt a “you touch it, you clean it” directive.
- Have you asked for or accepted feedback from employees and customers? Are you welcoming suggestions? People will be more likely to practice cleanliness and social distancing if they feel they are contributing to the greater good.
- Change out your signage about cleaning, hand washing and social distancing throughout the facility so that workers don’t start to walk by it blindly, because it’s the same old signage. This will help them practice awareness of new habits.
- Finally, give yourself a break. Remember, it takes time to change.