In the last few months, the “new normal” has become a familiar refrain as we adapt our personal and professional lives to deal with COVID-19. At MacKenzie-Childs, we’ve updated our practices as well, to focus on protecting our employees and our customers.
Our new guidelines were developed by a team that began meeting in March to formulate a strategy to continue online business and to prepare to reopen our studios, offices, and stores in stages as directed by New York state. First to reopen in mid-May was manufacturing in our Aurora studios in Upstate New York, where we produce hand-painted ceramics and hand decorated furniture.
Per state mandates, masks are required for all employees when in public spaces and when in contact with each other. Employees who are on site complete a self-assessment health screening upon arrival and are required to stay home if they have symptoms of COVID-19. We also have implemented enhanced housekeeping practices and have made essential personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks and other supplies, readily available. Many of the masks worn by employees were made by our sewing team, and as a company we have donated nearly 5,000 masks to local first-responders and other community agencies.
Social distancing of at least 6 feet is practiced in common areas, including our lunchroom and conference rooms, which have been upgraded with state-of-the-art video and audio systems to facilitate remote working. Since mid-March, more employees have been working remotely or on staggered schedules. Employees in private offices, who were able to return in early June, are limited to one person per office.
John Ling, our CEO, says getting back to work is a positive step forward. “We are extremely excited to get the team back to work in our production and studio facilities but are doing so in a careful and thoughtful way, focusing on the health and safety of our team.”
We’ve also taken steps in our retail stores in Aurora and SoHo, which have reopened at 25% capacity. Employees and customers are required to wear masks and practice social distancing. Also, regular sanitizing is being practiced, says Luna Francisco, manager of the Shop in Aurora.
“We are being more thoughtful about sanitizing more customer touch points throughout the day,” Luna says. “We are also only allowing limited guests in at a time to ensure proper distancing measures are kept.”
The final step in our reopening will be allowing visitors to tour our historic Farmhouse in Aurora, which is a design showcase that displays many of our legacy pieces. That will fall under Stage 4 of state mandates, which includes arts, education, and entertainment venues. Guidelines for that are still under development.
When the Farmhouse does reopen, you’ll be the first to know. Until then, enjoy this short video that features the loveliness of an attraction that is the centerpiece of our 65-acre estate. We can’t wait for you to experience it in person!