ASD Prepares for COVID Surge and Overcomes Labor Shortage by Expanding Remote Workforce
Jan 20, 2022
With last year’s winter COVID spike pushing the entire funeral profession to the brink, ASD spent the majority of 2021 preparing for the next big wave. Planning ahead in the pandemic age requires our company to build up our workforce to ensure the call volume does not exceed staffing levels. After a major company-wide shift toward remote work, ASD is now fully staffed and ready to confront the next potential COVID surge.
Despite a recent increase in call volume, over the past 30 days, our answering service has performed at the highest level with less than 3% of callers ever being put on hold.
In recent months, we have worked to expand our operational footprint by investing in new remote work solutions. Having the ability to hire and train employees who work out of their own homes has allowed our company to recruit staff beyond our local area. Currently, ASD has staff working in seven different states with more than 120 recently hired employees located in the south. We were able to attract these job candidates in the midst of a nationwide labor shortage by making the crucial decision to focus on growing our company’s workforce in states such as South Carolina and Alabama.
Like many companies, ASD was faced with a staff shortage that began to impact our operations in early 2021. Last year’s winter COVID surge was incredibly trying for ASD staff which caused a number of our employees to decide to take a different career path. This issue was exacerbated by the fact that, for the first time in our company’s history, there was a severe lack of job candidates applying from the local area.
While the majority of our staff were working remotely, ASD still needed to train employees in-house which limited our company to only hiring from the scarce number of local applicants. This unprecedented challenge prompted ASD to invest in new remote solutions that would allow us to cast a wider net and hire employees in states where jobs were more in demand.
“ASD specifically targeted states that ended pandemic-related unemployment benefits programs early,” says ASD Vice President and Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor. “We knew there were going to be a lot more people in those states looking for work. This was a driving force behind the decision of what states to recruit new job candidates from and was a very big factor in helping us to quickly expand our remote work force.”
Hiring employees who reside in southern states also offers an added bonus for some of ASD’s clients. Funeral homes that are located in the South will now have ASD Call Specialists answering their phones who sound more local to their area. Our technical team has built out special settings within our answering service system that automatically route calls for our southern funeral home clients to operators who are located in the South.
ASD’s transition to an entirely remote hiring and training system required an all-hands-on-deck approach with every department contributing in one way or another. Our technical team worked closely with Trainers to establish new remote solutions that enabled instructors to virtually interact with new hires. They were also tasked with sending out computer systems and 37-inch monitors to employees’ homes while managing the logistics involved with tracking systems and security. This required ASD to transform our brand-new office break room into a computer building and shipping center.
A video ASD created last summer to introduce our company to our remote employees.
We have also developed many new hiring and training materials to support our remote work force. Our hiring, sales, operations and client solutions teams have pitched in to help with the creation of these resources. In a very short period of time, we developed everything from virtual testing to evaluate potential job candidates, to tutorial videos that show new hires how to set up their ASD computer equipment to call simulation modules that demonstrate how our system operates.
These crucial operational, staffing and training advancements have allowed ASD to address new problems brought on by the pandemic head-on. Having staff located in multiple parts of the country creates more redundancy and protection. Furthermore, ASD’s investment in remote solutions ensures our company will be more resilient in the future and better prepared for unexpected challenges.
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD's company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com