“They love it. They all want one, even management.”

A Flick of the Wrist:
Innovating by (wrist)banding together

It wasn’t very long ago that putting a hand in your pocket was a natural motion performed with unconscious abandon. Now, each move toward your pocket or scratch of your nose is accompanied by a conscious evaluation of the risks of contracting COVID-19.

 

When David LaVe, a frontend team lead at Store 5145 in San Antonio, Texas, noticed how many times associates had to reach into their pockets each day, he was worried they were touching too many surfaces. So, he did something about it. 

Each time a customer override is needed at a register, the self-checkout hosts have to dig into a pocket and pull out a piece of paper with a barcode to scan it at register. These hosts perform dozens if not hundreds of customer overrides a day. Reducing the number of touches means reducing their risk of infection.

 

LaVe was brainstorming with other leaders in his store when the idea came to him, “When you go to a concert, they put on these wristbands, and you can just slide it through.”

 

So, he got to work attempting to make wristbands with the barcode on it, but it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. The thermo printing paper used for the barcodes wouldn’t make it through the hot laminating machine without turning the whole sheet black.

 

It was a setback, but they didn’t give up. “We had hiccups,” LaVe said. “We said, ‘let’s run it through the photocopier,’ so we tried it, and it worked out. We were surprised.”

 

When he rolled it out to his self-checkout hosts, they were excited to have a new, contact-free way to serve customers. “They love it,” he said. “They all want one, even management.”

 

LaVe had bigger ideas, though. He thought that if his hosts liked the wristbands, associates in other stores would too. He posted a video to Workplace.

 

When LaVe returned, his email was flooded with requests for the wristband templates. In just a couple of days, he counted around 850 emails from team leads, store managers and market managers all over the country looking for ways to help their associates work safer.

 

“That’s something I didn’t expect, but we work for a great company, and we’re all one team trying to make it better for everyone,” LaVe said.

 

LaVe doesn’t want to take all the credit, though. He’s quick to note that his managers are always pushing him to make things better, and he has a large associate network across the country he keeps in touch with through messaging apps and Workplace.

 

“It’s all about teamwork. Get with your team and brainstorm, because a lot of people have great ideas,” LaVe said. “Their idea may be better than yours.”

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