A daily safety plan for field reps in the COVID-19 economy
Overwhelmed by information about how to stay safe while travelling and visiting customers? We’ve mapped a sample day to help you plan and develop a daily strategy to minimise the chances of contracting and spreading the virus.
No matter which industry or role you’re functioning in, you can use our example of a typical day in the life of a field sales rep to develop your own checklist to guide you safely through each day. We’ve thought through the typical scenarios involved in setting up and visiting customers. Use this to draw up a plan to keep you, your customers, your prospects and your family as safe as possible.
Feel free to add important points or suggestions not listed here in the comments section below.
A detailed version of this article is available in webinar format: South African occupational health specialists Dr Frank Fox and Dr Stefanus Snyman discuss what all field sales teams need to know about the new COVID-19 Health & Safety Regulations. You can download a free recording of the webinar, hosted live on 7 May 2020.
Before visiting customers or prospects
If you have standing meetings set up with customers, check that they are still comfortable with you keeping those meetings. It’s best to not just pop in or swing by businesses during this time.
Ensuring your customers and prospects are comfortable with you visiting them in person will give them the opportunity to put their on-premise safety measures in place. To ease any concerns on their side, reach out and communicate that their health and safety is important to you, assuring them of the protocols you have in place to minimise the risk of infection, and request that they provide you with the same assurance before the meeting.
Plan your route ahead of time. Visit as few locations as possible and avoid stopping at places where people congregate (e.g., crowded shopping malls).
Starting your day
Before heading out, measure your own temperature. If it’s 37.5°C (99.5°F) or above, stay at home and contact your manager – they should be able to assist you in taking the next steps to get tested where necessary. Create a checklist to log your daily temperature along with questions related to other relevant symptoms.
Your checklist should include a PPE checklist, to make sure you don’t leave home without the necessary protective gear, sanitary aids, and sustenance. Examples include:
- healthy lunch, snacks, tea/coffee and water that you prepared yourself,
- clean, reusable or disposable face masks,
- an airtight container (e.g., Tupperware) to store your mask in,
- disinfectant spray, and
- hand sanitiser.
Wash your hands a final time before leaving your house.
Ideally, travel alone. If you must use public transport assure that you wear the necessary PPE and distance yourself from others as much as possible.
Have you seen our new, editable COVID-19 Form feature your team can use as a digital check list?
Visiting a customer
Put on your face mask before leaving your vehicle.
Carry extra disposable masks (in a sealed packet) that you can offer your customers should they not be wearing one. Carry a spare mask for yourself. If someone has coughed in your presence, you may wish to change your mask.
Sanitise your hands once you’ve left your car and take your hand sanitiser with you. Touching objects such as doorknobs, chairs, table surfaces, light switches, toilet handles, documents, etc. is likely unavoidable, so make sure you have hand sanitiser with you to disinfect your hands.
Remember to maintain physical distancing (2m is the WHO recommendation) at all times during your visit.
Do not touch pens or paper to sign in with security or reception. Ask them to sign in for you. If you need to show ID, either hold it up for them to see or if they insist on holding it, ensure you disinfect it afterwards.
It’s better to decline coffee, tea or water served at customers. Should you choose to enjoy a beverage while you wait, handle the glass, cup or bottle yourself and have them pour it for you.
Avoid touching any magazines, table surfaces or chairs with your hands while waiting in reception or moving around their premises.
Public restrooms are higher risk areas. Attempt to use less frequented bathrooms at smaller businesses if possible and sanitise door handles, toilet seats and other surfaces before you use the space.
Meeting a customer
Do not shake hands, hug or kiss. A simple nod and smile should do. Explain you are just being careful, if necessary.
Maintain physical distancing (2m is the WHO recommendation) at all times during your visit.
Offer them a face mask if they are not wearing one.
Conduct a quick risk assessment:
- Are you meeting in a well-ventilated place?
- Does your customer (or the people you are meeting) appear healthy?
- Do others appear to be practising social distancing? Make a note if any of this is not the case.
Remember not to pass papers between yourself and customers. Use digital devices as far as possible.
Avoid letting others touch your mobile device or tablet. If they need to sign an online form, ask if it’s okay to sign for them. Otherwise, if you need to let them handle your mobile device or tablet, make sure to disinfect afterwards.
Leaving a customer
Do not shake hands, hug or kiss. A simple nod and smile should do. Explain that you’re just being careful.
If you’ve given them a face mask, let them keep it.
Getting back into your car
Disinfect your hands with hand sanitiser.
Disinfect your facemask, shoes and tablet/mobile device and any other items such as diaries or catalogues that others may have touched with disinfectant spray.
Put any bags or briefcases you carry into a restricted area, preferably your boot (trunk).
The virus can remain on surfaces and material for days. Put reusable face masks in your airtight container and wash and iron them before reuse.
Disinfect your shoes (especially the soles) before entering your home, then sanitise or wash your hands after changing your clothes, before greeting friends or family.
Don’t put your bags on commonly used surfaces. Find a designated space under a desk where you can leave the things that travel with you on the road.
It’s wise to include your manager and colleagues in this discussion to think through what is best for you and your team.
Need more information?
South African occupational health specialists Dr Frank Fox and Dr Stefanus Snyman discussed what all field sales teams need to know about the new COVID-19 Health & Safety Regulations at a live webinar on 7 May 2020. You can download a free recording of the webinar, to hear their recommendations yourself.
Please refer to general and industry-specific fact sheets at http://www.nioh.ac.za/covid-19/ for more information.
**Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice because of something you have read in this article.
Department of Employment and Labour, NICD, NIOH, WHO and CDC
About the Author, Julian Diaz
Head of Marketing for Skynamo, Julian is a Business-to-Business Marketer with over 20 years of experience marketing technology and helping small businesses scale into internationally recognized leaders in their niche.