Five years ago, I set out to find staff who wanted highly skilled, part-time positions.
Little did I know that this would be the year that would make me more thankful than ever that I did so.
Efficiency is important, and as we’ve learned over the past number of weeks, forward thinking sometimes requires us to strengthen the systems we have in place and not always equate of efficiency with “running lean”.
It’s been a huge benefit to me as a businessperson to be slightly overstaffed. Sacrilege, I know! But I think a business should be dependable and able to pivot quickly with no negative effect on the customer. You can’t do that without people.
Here we are all these weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, and not only have we managed to do the important work our clients depend on, we’ve done it while keeping our staff safe and healthy. How did we do it?
We got creative. Seed analysts usually don’t have the luxury of working from home. Our work has to be done hands-on in a seed testing lab, where we deal with live seedlings. It feels a little strange to be in a position where you can’t simply go home and work from there.
Still, when the pandemic hit, we had to think of how to ensure we could operate while protecting our staff. We have some analysts who are mothers whose kids are young and can’t home school on their own. We immediately had to decide who needed to be home and who could continue working in a lab setting.
We were quick to implement safety protocols. Being a close-knit team that works elbow to elbow, we had to implement social distancing procedures and reduce the number of staff working in the lab at any one time.
It’s actually been good to have some people separated so staff can go home to self-isolate and others can pick up the emergency work that has to be done to get spring planting to happen.
The pandemic is forcing many in our industry to think of how to make things more efficient. It’s a very appropriate time for the seed regulatory modernization process to begin in earnest. As our associations plan to vote on ratification of the single National Seed Organization, our thoughts turn to the big picture as we look to revamp our regulatory framework.
Harmonizing Canada’s seed testing rules with the standards established by the International Seed Testing Association and U.S. Association of Official Seed Analysts would help us have an easier time facilitating trade. This would make it easier for the client to expect the same result if they bought their seed somewhere else and are retesting it to ensure it can be graded in Canada. Calculating weeds in native species is another area that can use tweaking.
Some consider this to be the Year From Hell. I think of it as the Year of Opportunity. If we think of it that way, history may end looking at this year as a crucial turning point for Canada’s food supply and the people who produce it.