Reopening: How to Digitize COVID-19 Compliance Checklists

June 23, 2020 in Safety and Inspections



Reopening: How to Digitize COVID-19 Compliance Checklists

It’s happening. 

While mandates vary by region, most organizations are in the process of reopening, pausing, or reversing reopening with the condition of adhering to new standard operating procedures

Unfortunately, the country is far from “business as usual.” While mandates vary by region, organizations that are reopening are doing so under the condition of adhering to new standard operating procedures.

Universal safety measures being taken include allowing fewer customers into physical spaces, requiring workers to wear masks, practicing social distancing, and asking employees to complete wellness checklists. Check the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s digital resource center for details about your state’s current reopening plan.

Courtesy of The New York Times, July 2, 2020

Undoubtedly, change is hard. Company owners enforcing new safety measures must be strategic. Do you run a gym, restaurant, hair salon, or other small business? If so, now is the time to take a page from “the large corporation handbook” by digitizing your new standard operating procedures. 

In this article, we’ll review why you may want to “go digital” and how to get started:

Why Digitize COVID Compliance Checklists

In recent years, an increasing number of companies have been transitioning from paper forms and Excel spreadsheets to task-management platforms. Often called work order software, these platforms allow enterprise companies with thousands of employees to streamline regulatory compliance checklists, work orders, and standard operating procedures while maintaining accessible digital audit trails to enforce compliance. 

Today, this technology is accessible for businesses of all sizes— even with powerful free mobile apps. Translation: Small business owners can now customize their own reopening procedure templates, assign recurring checklists to employees, and monitor compliance within just a few minutes. Beyond being more sanitary (mobile devices aren’t shared like paper checklists), connected-workforce platforms provide the following benefits: 

  • Improved communication between upper-management and workers.  
  • Real-time troubleshooting, collaboration, and teamwork. 
  • Consolidation of important documents, guidelines, and manuals. 
  • Digital audit trails that can be used to enforce compliance. 
  • Preventive maintenance capabilities that can reduce costs. 

Put simply, connected-workforce and task-management apps save time, reduce the margin for error, and streamline daily operations. Here are the steps to take to begin digitizing your business’ reopening process:

1. Identify guidelines for your specific industry

There is no shortage of available information about COVID-19. There are countless stories directing individuals to wash their hands for 30 seconds, clean with recommended disinfectants, and social distance. However, business owners should seek both industry and location-specific guidelines from original sources. Here’s where to get started: 

  • CDC Guidelines: This landing page allows visitors to filter A-to-Z sanitation guidelines for everything from Airlines to Veterinarians.
  • American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). The AIHA has released comprehensive industry guidelines for physical-contact workers such as at-home service providers, construction workers, gyms, salons, retailers, and restaurant workers.
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce State-by-State: The U.S. Chamber has created an interactive map illustrating the most recent guidance, timelines, and reopening information for employers. It’s color-coordinated, easy-to-use, and succinct.

Many states have organized their reopening recommendations via business type. For example, here is a page by Washington state that includes individual links for agriculturalists, laundromats, and more. Simply, copy and paste the relevant reopening guidelines for your unique industry and location into a digital document before moving onto step two. 

2. Choose the right tool 

Next, you will want to download the right management and compliance app for your unique organization. When evaluating options, it’s important to prioritize the following features:

  • Versatility: Does this app integrate into our future operations beyond safety and sanitation checklists? The best platforms will also include features that support equipment management, preventive maintenance, inventory management, and other important managerial tasks. 
  • User-Experience: Will employees be able to navigate the app with little to no training? Completing the reopening checklist should feel as easy as posting a photo to Instagram or Facebook. 
  • Communication: Does the app also include an easy way to message across your team? Can you separate team communication by individuals, groups, and teams? 

Bringing your organization into the same platform increases the likelihood of adoption and compliance. As a co-founder of MaintainX, I invite you to download our app for iOs or Android. We offer a completely free to use product and our customers absolutely love MaintainX.  

MaintainX offers re-opening checklist functionality alongside intuitive maintenance and operations management features that enable seamless communication across your organization.

3. Begin creating your checklists

Start with your most essential procedures. Think holistically about your operation and include opening procedures, closing procedures, department-specific procedures, and employee attestation. Divide your task-specific guidelines into individual checklists by employee, location, or team. Different roles may require different checklists. How you digitally input your checklists will depend on the app you chose in step two. 

MaintainX features a drag and drop interface that allows users to customize checklists with a variety of features including pass/fail, multiple-choice, e-signature sign-off, and more. You can also save your checklist as a template when you are finished, to use as frequently as you need. 

4. Assign and train your employees

No matter how easy your reopening checklist system may be, your employees need to be in the loop. Make sure you invite them and let them know what to expect. Show team members how to navigate the work orders, message on the app, and be available to answer any questions. Your managers will play an important role in getting everyone comfortable with the new system – make sure they are able to communicate the plan with their teams. 

5. Monitor employee usage and sentiments

Are your employees using the checklist system without complaints? Are your reopening procedures clear and effective, or do some components need to be modified? 

The first few days after reopening are critical for many reasons. From an operational standpoint, you must carefully assess the success of all new policies. You may need to adjust your standard operating procedures according to unanticipated issues experienced by employees, suppliers, and customers alike. The good news is that your digital reopening checklists can be instantly modified, as needed, across your operation. Take feedback from your workforce. Monitor the results. Adjust your standard operating procedures. Lather, rinse and repeat. 

Get Started With Digital Reopening Checklists

Remember, your team will likely need time to adjust. Remind everyone that the new measures are in place for everyone’s benefit. Empowering your team with modern software is a commitment to keeping them safe.

In all honesty, our customers love our product. We encourage you to seek out reviews on the app store and Capterra to hear about it directly from them. Their teams appreciate the simplicity, improved communication, and autonomy afforded by connected-workforce platforms—your team will too.

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