After months of agonizing wait, COVID-19 vaccination campaigns are finally rolling out across the nation. Tens of millions of Americans have already been vaccinated and many more will be immunized against the deadly virus in the weeks and months ahead. As the country moves slowly towards achieving herd immunity, national lockdowns and social restrictions will be eased, allowing non-essential businesses to reopen to the public.
While the current mass immunization program can restore some normalcy into people’s lives, it does not mean the pandemic is going to end anytime soon. Vaccine hesitancy, the emergence of new COVID variants, and non-existent immunization solutions for children and teenagers mean the coronavirus is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Public health and social measures like reducing points of contact should continue to be enforced in businesses to reduce the risk of virus transmission.
Why Reducing Points of Contact is Crucial for Slowing the Pandemic
COVID-19 is a contagious viral disease that spreads easily from one human to another.
The disease spreads when people come into direct contact with the virus. When a person infected with the coronavirus talks, coughs, or sneezes, they emit contaminated respiratory droplets that can travel through the air or fall and land on surfaces, including on body parts like the hands. If people touch contaminated hands or surfaces and then rub their eyes, nose, or mouth, they can become infected with the deadly virus.
Depending on the material, the coronavirus can live on surfaces for a few hours to many days. A study conducted by the U.S National Institute of Health found that COVID-19 can survive for four hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard, and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The coronavirus can also live on wood for four days, and on glass and paper surfaces for up to five days. Reducing points of contact in your business decreases the risk of touching contaminated surfaces, helping slow the viral pandemic.
Benefits of Reducing Points of Contact for Businesses
If you believe vaccinating employees will safeguard your business from the coronavirus, think again. The vaccine’s novelty makes it difficult to determine how effective it is against the original COVID strain and its newer variants. There have been many documented cases in which people who were exposed to and immunized against COVID-19 were reinfected with the virus again. Recent studies are also revealing that COVID-19 vaccines are less effective against new virus variants, meaning the pandemic will evolve into an endemic.
Loosening safety measures post-vaccination can increase the risk of a deadly coronavirus outbreak in your business. Shutting business operations due to an outbreak will lead to considerable productivity and revenue loss, which can lead to financial trouble. Besides financial loss, the reputational damage you will incur for not implementing appropriate safety measures can destroy your business. Reducing points of contact is not only essential for promoting a safe work environment, but also critical for protecting your brand’s image.
How to Reduce Points of Contact in Your Business
The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed how people do business. Acquired consumer habits during the pandemic and the possibility of a long-lasting global health crisis mean businesses have to adapt to a new normal. Embracing pandemic-driven changes like offering more digital services and improving workplace hygiene can help you weather this crisis and take your business to the next level. Follow the tips below to reduce points of contact and keep your business safe during and after COVID-19:
Adopt Contactless Payments
Contactless payments are touch-free fintech solutions that allow people to pay for goods and services without fiddling with cash, writing checks, or swiping cards at a processing machine. A French study has found paper money to be highly contaminated with bacteria and viruses, making them the perfect medium for spreading contagious diseases to the rest of the public. Consumers prefer using no-touch payment methods over cash and card swiping as they are more convenient and hygienic, making this payment trend here to stay.
A Mastercard study has found that 80 percent of global consumers are now using contactless payments for conducting financial transactions. The number of people using no-touch payments will continue to grow, making its adoption a necessity for promoting business growth. To boost sales and protect your workers and customers from the risk of transmissible diseases, you should offer contactless payment solutions in your business.
Contactless Payment Solutions
There are many different types of contactless payment solutions you can adopt for your business. Among the most popular no-touch transaction methods are contactless cards and mobile payments. Contactless cards and mobile payments use radio frequency and a payment reader to send money instantly. The money is processed through networks run by Visa and Mastercard, costing merchants high transaction fees.
Processing contactless cards and mobile payments cost merchants between 2.5 to 2.8 percent of the total transaction amount, which can hurt many small businesses’ profit margins. Fortunately, there’s a more cost-effective solution for businesses to process contactless payments. Electronic checks ⎼ or eChecks ⎼ allow merchants to accept digital payments from customers at no cost.
Echeck processing is a form of contactless payment solution that uses digital checks to send and receive money online instantly. Electronic checks eliminate all the hassle of working with traditional paper checks, allowing for safer, faster, and more convenient payment processing. Merchants can use eChecks instead of contactless cards and mobile transactions to process no-touch payments at a lower cost. Businesses pay nothing to process an eCheck from customers.
Anyone with an American bank account can send or receive eChecks. Working with eChecks is as easy as processing other forms of contactless payments. The only thing merchants need to accept online eCheck payments from customers is their name and email address. Once you obtain the customer’s information, you send them a quick digital invoice via email and the customer pays you online instantly. Echecks are the most affordable way to process contactless payments, helping businesses reduce touchpoints at a lower cost.
Offer More Digital Services
No-touch payment technologies are a great solution for reducing contact with contaminated hands and objects. Along with payment technologies, there are many other digital solutions you can adopt to reduce points of contact in your business. Social distancing is one of the most effective strategies for slowing the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC recommends maintaining a six feet social distance from individuals outside your household to reduce the risk of virus transmission.
Many business services can be digitized to decrease foot traffic inside your premises, promoting social distancing in the workplace. Offering virtual services is safer and more convenient for both businesses and consumers, leading to happier customers and increased profits. The medical industry’s adoption of telehealth services during the pandemic generated more than $29 billion for healthcare businesses in 2020. Digital healthcare services will continue to grow as 76 percent of patients prefer them over in-person doctor visits.
Digitizing Services in Different Industries
Along with healthcare businesses, many other industries have also digitized many of their routine services to reduce points of contact and drive growth during the pandemic. Some common services that can be digitized in different industries include:
- Restaurants – Offering digital menus and contactless pickup and delivery
- Hotels – Providing digital booking, check-in, check-out, and room service ordering solutions
- Coaching and education – Developing virtual and app-based classes
- Retail – Live video streaming to show products in real-time for boosting sales
Digital services improve business efficiency and customer experience which can help promote positive cash flows and brand reputation. Digitizing routine business services also protects both employee and consumer health by reducing points of contact with potentially infected individuals and contaminated surfaces.
Disinfect Common Surfaces
While merchants can employ plenty of digital solutions to reduce touchpoints in their premises, many other activities inside businesses require physical contact to work. Using door handles, elevator buttons, light switches, and touch screen kiosks are common daily activities inside businesses in which the use of hands can’t be avoided. Touching potentially contaminated objects and surfaces increase the risk of contagion inside your business, leading to a costly shutdown and reopening.
To protect your staff and customers from transmissible diseases, you must sanitize common surfaces frequently. Improving workplace hygiene boosts employee morale and customer satisfaction as the COVID-19 pandemic has made people more germaphobic. A study conducted by Capgemini Research Institute has found that 77 percent of consumers will continue to be cautious about cleanliness, health, and safety after COVID-19.
How to Keep Your Business Clean
Follow the CDC guidelines below to maintain a safe and clean business environment:
Sanitize common surfaces regularly with EPA-approved disinfectant products
If products on the EPA list are not available, use household bleach to disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched frequently
Objects and surfaces that must be disinfected frequently include:
- Tables and desks
- Doorknobs and handles
- Faucets and sinks
- Phones, keyboards, and touchscreens
- Light switches
- Self-Cleaning Films
Frequent cleaning and disinfection can be very burdensome for businesses. Most merchants don’t have the resources to sanitize their businesses multiple times a day. Many people are also allergic to the chemicals in cleaning products. Common chemicals used in cleaning products ⎼ such as ammonia and bleach ⎼ can cause skin rashes and breathing difficulties among other allergic reactions. Luckily, there are other effective strategies to clean common surfaces and keep your business safe without using toxic chemicals.
Self-cleaning films are a convenient solution to safeguard your business from harmful germs. These self-cleaning coatings have an adhesive backing, allowing you to apply them onto the top of frequently touched surfaces to reduce the presence of microbes in your workplace. The films use photocatalytic technology to kill bacteria and viruses on their surface when exposed to light. You can apply these films on elevator buttons, tables, desks, door hardware, and other commonly touched areas in your business to reduce the risk of a viral outbreak.
Reducing Points of Contact is the New Way of Doing Business
The development of COVID-19 vaccines can slow the spread of the viral disease, but will not completely eradicate it. With new coronavirus variants emerging every few weeks, it is becoming increasingly evident that the virus is going to stay with us for many more years. Reducing points of contact inside businesses is essential for safeguarding your operations and protecting public health after COVID-19. Implement these COVID-driven changes for your business to adapt to the new reality.
About the Creator
Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She enjoys writing about events, travel, decorating trends, and innovations for the home, but also covers business, recruiting, real estate, finance, law, and investing.