This week, Indiana will enter Stage 3 of reopening the economy, and a few more businesses will open while following social distancing and hygiene guidelines. However, entrepreneurs to enterprises are eager to restart, but it is a given that it will not be business as usual. In this phase, many will open their doors to limited customers and employees, and they will encourage employees to work from home and provide many services from a distance or remotely.
Touchless gadgets — In the last couple of months, demand for touchless gadgets such as touchless faucets, toilet handles, soap or hand sanitizer pumps, automatic doors, phones with face recognition and many more has shot up exponentially. These products control the spread of contamination by physical contact but also reduce the time and effort for cleaning facilities. We are not far from drones and robots delivering packages to food.
Infrastructure — It is time to take a look at your IT landscape if you are a small business owner. Yes, you need reliable high-speed internet as you start adding more productivity tools for business. You want to set up an online store, but, most importantly, receive online payments. Currency and credit cards are the biggest germ carriers after doorknobs. Look around for self-service tools to gain efficiencies such as an online scheduler, so your clients can book appointments by themselves and reschedule if needed and customer relationship management software to stay in touch with them by sending promotions, new hours of operations, product catalogs and also receive their feedback. Move most of your internal communication documents on the cloud, so it is easy to collaborate among teams. By now, most of you are familiar with video conferencing with products like Facebook Live, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, etc. If you do not have a dedicated tech support team, then you want to pick software-as-a-service products, and a contract with a managed service provider could be your best option.
Collaboration — As you are pushing most of your services online or remotely, so are your vendor, suppliers and governmental agencies. The new model will require your staff to get trained so they can perform their internal tasks with digital tools and work efficiently with your partners as well. For example, many state agencies are going virtual, so your team may have to learn about different file formats, access secured content using authentication, digitally sign the documents, complete online forms, etc. You may want to consider creating online training materials and user manuals to access the content anytime. If you received information on paper with signatures, consider creating online forms or a mobile device form that can capture auto-signature with software like DocuSign or Adobe.
Health — If you are working on the computer from home or office, do not ignore your health. Consider installing software that reminds you to take a break, get up and stretch, show exercises that you can do at your desk, and report on your screen time.
As we move into the next phases of reopening the economy, these changes are going to remain, and I am positive that we are going to adapt to this new normal faster than we think.
Rupal Thanawala is managing director at Trident Systems, a leading business and technology consulting practice, and tech editor for Indianapolis Recorder. Contact her at email@example.com.