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Kevin Auburn, managing director of OfficeMax, works at the Auckland Stationery Distribution Center in Highbrook. Photo / Supplied
The Omicron epidemic caused 35 percent of the OfficeMax office workforce to fall ill with Covid-19, forcing the company to change course to continue working.
CEO Kevin Auburn and others are key
members of the management team, including CFO Ben Nori, worked at the Highbrook online store’s distribution center in Auckland, helping to pack parcels.
Auburn told the Herald that the past six weeks have put retailers under pressure like never before as persistent labor shortages and managing stock delays have wreaked havoc.
More than a third of OfficeMax’s workforce was directly or indirectly affected by disease, and as a result they were left without work in self-isolation.
More than 45,000 parcels leave the two distribution centers each week, and in order for businesses to fulfill orders, he had to call forklift drivers from Palmerston North and urge friends and family of employees to pick up changes to fulfill orders.
Corporate workers covering Vangarei and Dunedin have also joined to help with assembly and packaging at their distribution centers, and more than 60 office workers have been trained and are now working in shifts since late February.
In his entire business, 15 percent of his workforce of 540 people does not work with Covid, and more than 35 percent of the distribution staff. In recent weeks, the Christchurch Distribution Center has been fulfilling lower-level orders in the North Island to address staff shortages.
Auburn said the last six weeks have been more challenging than at any other time during the pandemic, but now work for the retail workforce is returning to normal.
“This was a real test of our disaster recovery plan.
“More than half of the executive team work at the distribution center on a fairly regular basis, adding office and sales staff who put their hands to the collection and packaging, just to try to eat the backlog we had, and we were very grateful to these guys. who do it ”.
The company typically hires temporary staff hired with major retailers at the peak of the Christmas period, at the time of return to school, however this year these businesses kept staff and had difficulty finding additional staff due to lack of migrants and low employment.
Office Max gave staff free lunches, but hosted a kind of party to thank for the effort, if the Covid-19 restrictions allowed.
Auburn said the efforts of his employees over the past two months meant the business was able to prove itself in the future.
“She was full of learning, full of opportunities and full of feelings of culture and people who want to be part of the solution. This has added cohesion to the business.
“It is, there is [also] encouraged us to take a more formal review after Omicron, and I think there will be a lot of improvements that we can make as part of a change program that we can make if we ever have to go through something like that again. ”
OfficeMax closed its network of 15 retail stores in 2020 and laid off nearly 60 employees. The seller says he opened four times more accounts a month than before Covid, and the decision to focus only on e-commerce was the “right move”.