After I sent out the newsletter on “How do you handle when an OFS gets sick”, I got a lot of responses. I was blown away seeing so many employers who sincerely care for their OFS. Their emails also gave me a lot of great ideas on what to do when your OFS does get sick and how to make sure your business continues to run smoothly.
Like in my business, Jayne doesn’t have a lot of time-sensitive tasks so she gives her OFS as much time off as they need.
“Even though the job is virtual we are fully aware that the person is not virtual. The worker is a real live breathing person who occasionally will have issues. We care for the OFS and are concerned for their welfare.
I made plans at the start of this position with my OFS. He has back up help in case something happens to him. Someone who gain access to my account, send an email to let me know what is goiing on, and someone who can work on my account.
How would I handle a long term illness? I’d continue to pay him for about 3 months, longer if I could. The work is on a website so it’s not time-sensitive. Then he can figure out how to catch up, but I wouldn’t worry about it, and I would not necessarily keep a record of how many hours he’s put in. I’ve worked on websites and SEO and I know it consumes many hours, so him making up the time would be easy.
Now that we have a worker depending upon an income, we want to take care of him and would like the OFS to focus on getting healthy again.
This is another good reason why you should outsource tasks you know how to do. It’s easier to take over some of these tasks while you’re waiting for your OFS to recover.
“I give my OFS sick days. They are allowed to request to take up to 3 sick days in a month. After the 3rd day they are required to see a doctor and bring a note from the doctor verifying they are either fit for work or need more time off. I also provide time off for death in the family. My lead just lost his grandfather two days ago. He’s been off ever since notifying me. I told him to take whatever time he needs and to let me know if he needs anything. I jump in and help with the work if need be. Everything they are doing are things I use to do before I had a team. So I just jump in and help to keep things running smoothly.
If you have business-critical tasks, Ronda and Jared recommend cross-training your OFS.
“Cross training. Same as any other business critical situation.
In a pinch I can run payroll, make critical payments, etc. All of our payroll taxes are paid by gusto. We have everything possible on autopay whether through credit card or deduction from the accounts. Some payments have to be sent. We use bill.com for those.
Clarice is pregnant, and we expect her to be out for as long as she’d like, so her fiance is learning how to do her job while she’s out, and he’ll do less of his regular job (video review and new tech training) for the time she’s out.
I’ll support them both as needed. So far, not at all. It’s been tricky explaining clearly I’m interested in the work getting done, not in the hours you work. Am if you are sick, and need support, just let me know so I can help. We’re all on the same team here!
“Thanks for sharing your insights. When we have mission, critical urgent items, we always make sure that someone else on the team is a back up to someone else. Two years ago next week we lost our fearless leader in the Philippines, who passed away suddenly in an accident. We spent the next several weeks having to retrain someone to take over some of the responsibilities that he had. Ever since then we have always made sure that whatever your role is on the team, someone else knows how to do it and come back you up if you are sick or on vacation. I hope that helps.
This email from Rob is a really good read because he also shared his OFS’ email response.
“My first hire, actually third. I don’t count the first two because they were so awful. MJ is an amazing fit for my business. She has since helped me to hire the next two. Early on, 5 months after hiring her, she got carpel tunnel and had to take time off to heal. I told her about some really great software that all she had to do is talk and it types. She didn’t like the way any of them work. I kept telling her that it takes time for the software to get used to her. She refused to use it.
She and her doctor didn’t know how long she had to rest her wrist. I knew that if she didn’t have a paying job, she and her family would suffer. So, I paid her until she was ready to come back. She was mystified, why would I continue paying her even without any of the work getting done. She offered to help me hire her replacement, then train that replacement.
That is exactly why I was willing to pay her to get well. I refused to let her do any work, except studying and reading. It took almost 5 months for her to heal. Ouch! I was right, it was the right thing to do. It was what convinced her that I wasn’t looking for a reason to fire her.
She went from a right fit for the company to an amazing fit.
And from Rob’s OFS:
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your patience and understanding with me during my carpal tunnel syndrome recovery. Your trust in me and your decision to keep me on even when I was not fully healed was a huge source of comfort during a difficult time. Your kindness and unmatched generosity to give me the opportunity to heal without worrying about my job security is what I appreciate the most. You showed your faith in me and my abilities during that tough period and that’s why I am now more devoted and loyal to you and to our business. This experience allowed me to understand the importance of support. I promise to always keep this in mind and to extend my support, understanding and faith to other people and situations. With everything that’s been going on (I know it’s a lot), I’m just excited to keep giving my best and showing you my commitment to the business.
Which of their ideas did you find helpful? How do you handle hard situations with your OFS? Let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.