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44 PCB007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2020 As government leaders ease restrictions, a mountain of uncertainty looms that local businesses must contend with if they hope to survive, let alone prosper. Everyone wants a speedy recovery and, based on the recent jobs report, companies are betting on it. But those who believe that companies can simply "flip a switch" to turn the economy back on and "everything will revert back to business as usual" are being naïve. Over the next few months, companies of all sizes will routinely be required to make pivotal decisions concerning a web of complex person- nel, operational, and supply chain challenges that will have a significant impact on not just their operations, but also those of their cus- tomers and their customers. Companies with multiple locations, or those that do business in multiple states and multiple countries, will be tested even more. These decisions collectively will largely determine just how fast the U.S. economy is able to bounce back. States and countries around the world are opening on their own timetables and with their own guidelines and restrictions. This disconti- nuity can wreak havoc on buying and forecast- ing decisions. A company's customer base may be fully operational in one state, but restricted to 50% capacity in another, and their customer base may be experiencing the same. Worse yet, some customers may have been forced to shut their doors forever—a non-human statistical casualty of COVID-19. These uncertainties, if prolonged, can lead to an operational paralysis and alter a facto- ry's production schedule and how fast it elects to bring back its employees. Conversely, a diverse company that supports several manu- facturing disciplines from PCB/A to turn-key and branded product solutions may sense a surge in demand and decide to "go all-in" and invite its entire workforce back as soon as it was allowed. In doing so, however, HR teams had to over- come multiple challenges. With local schools and some area daycare centers still closed, it made it difficult—even impossible—for some parents of young children to come back, even when they wanted to. Some were brought back on adjusted shift schedules. There were others that simply refused to come back out of con- cern for their health and well-being and/or be- cause they are making more on unemployment (at least through July). Recruiting new employees presented its own set of challenges as well. We prefer to recruit directly versus using an agency and typically conduct in-person first interviews. The natural alternative would be to move to virtual inter- views, but not all candidates have the neces- sary computer skills or equipment to partici- pate in a virtual interview. HR and operations are not the only depart- ments that have had to deal with the fallout of the lockdown. Many sales and marketing ini- tiatives have been left in limbo or have been adjusted to comply with various travel and visitor restrictions that, again, differ from state to state and customer to customer. Improv- Masked worker filing away a large stack of recently manufactured bare boards for a large OEM customer, prior to the boards moving on to assembly. It is just one of several shelving areas throughout the board shop/auto assembly area.

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