When Covid-19 struck, entrepreneurs did all they could to keep people safe. Concerned for their employees and customers, they acted quickly and sent their teams home.
As the economy reopens, entrepreneurs are now asking their teams to head back to the office. But without the virus vanquished, bringing people back safely isn’t as easy as laying out a welcome mat.
What do entrepreneurs need to get the team back together? Use this checklist to keep them — and by extension, your customers — safe.
1. Make contact tracing a cinch
Contact tracing is a crucial part of minimizing spread. It helps health professionals track where the virus may be traveling. After someone has tested positive, those who were in recent contact with the patient can be alerted to get checked as well.
Although contact tracing can be done manually, technology makes it easier and more accurate. Apps like Healthepassport, launched by RedeApp in partnership with El Toro, simplify the communication process. By giving employees personalized status updates and choices for checking their contacts, the app balances personalization and privacy.
2. Get smart about PPE
Although a $2 mask is better than nothing, it’s far from the best protection. To make personal protective equipment more informative and useful, Northwestern University’s Technical Institute launched what it calls “smart PPE.”
Smart PPE takes the newest fashion trend, the mask, and adds some nifty sensors to monitor your health. This device will help catch symptoms early, immediately notifying the wearer if they’re at risk so they can take preventative steps. That way, workers won’t continue to spread the disease without realizing it.
3. Make appointments more accessible
Once the virus made visiting a healthcare facility risky, virtual care became a best practice seemingly overnight. While not a new technology, telemedicine is not a common one, either. Make sure your team is not only aware of it, but has fast, private access to a virtual clinic.
Being able to speak with doctors without leaving home helps employees feel safe and learn as soon as possible if they should get tested. Work with your health insurance provider to set up checkups for employees who worry that they may have been exposed. Better safe than sorry.
4. Offer contactless service
When you’re told to be careful who you come in contact with, it’s hard to serve customers. That’s why one of the greatest innovations to come out of this pandemic is contactless pick-up and delivery.
Whatever you sell, there’s almost certainly a way to make it contactless. Contactless pickup works for fast food, but it’s also possible for industries ranging from pet care to furniture. Many veterinarians are asking customers to drop their pets at the door, while larger items can be loaded in customers’ vehicles.
More touchless technology is on its way as well, including touchless elevators. Not only do these upgrades make your office safer, but they also offer a futuristic touch.
5. Automate everything
Automation has been in the works for some time, but Covid-19 has kicked it into high gear. From fast-food kiosks to self-checkouts at grocery stores, there’s almost always a way to help customers seal the deal themselves.
Beyond making operations safer, automation is also a huge competitive advantage. Studies suggest automation can save between 240 and 360 hours per year. Even if the virus peters out tomorrow (which it won’t), the business benefits alone make automation a worthwhile investment.
One ideal automation opportunity? Office cleaning. Hospitals are embracing autonomous robots to sanitize surfaces. Although that might sound expensive, just imagine how much lawsuits could cost if an employee or customer gets sick because of unhygienic office conditions.
6. Make it hands-off
Who wants to touch doorknobs or window sills right now? Help employees minimize contact with potentially contaminated surfaces with wipes and gadgets like the HygieneHook. This simple 3D-printed tool can help you unlock and open doors without touching the handle. It’s inexpensive, made of durable plastic and can fit in the typical pocket.
Looking for a low-tech solution? Some simple policies can make a world of difference. Ask employees to avoid closing internal doors. Put virucidal wipes next to sinks, appliances, doors and windows. Give employees the green light to flush the toilet or urinal with their foot.
The sooner business can get back together, the better. Don’t let challenges you can solve with a tool or policy change stop you. Remember, your employees and customers want everything to be back to normal just as badly as you do.
This article originally appeared in Entrepreneur.