As I write this at the end of March, PCT’s home state of Ohio is under a mandatory COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Fortunately, our staff is able to work remotely because our parent company, GIE Media, has invested in systems and processes for a virtual workplace. The PCT team largely has been working remotely for a couple of weeks and we stay connected in the same ways you do: conference calls, video meetings and sharing quarantine memes with one another over email.
More good news is that both our print and digital editions will continue to be published with no disruption. Recently we were alerted by the U.S. Postal Service that they have developed localized continuity of operations plans that are employed in the case of emergencies. These help ensure that the nation’s postal system continues to function. We, therefore, anticipate uninterrupted delivery of our print editions.
What’s great about the PCT Media Group is that it’s more than just the monthly magazine. In addition to the print edition that arrives in your mailbox, we post daily news to our website, publish a weekly e-newsletter, interact with readers on social media and more. (As such, we encourage you to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter if you aren’t already a subscriber, and to connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.)
Like other breaking news we’ve reported on in the past, the approach we’ve taken in covering the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation has been multifaceted. First and foremost, we’ve been interviewing PMPs, suppliers, association officials and other experts on how this virus is affecting the industry. We’ve shared that information via a new tab on our website’s home-page titled “COVID-19 NEWS.” That section is being updated daily so please check it out.
For our magazine coverage, we’ve dedicated 3½ pages to news about the virus. But because your business is still pest management, this remains our Annual Ant Control Issue. Our COVID-19 coverage, which begins on page 30, certainly is important, but so are our monthly columns, departments, and business and technical articles. Additionally, since the issue itself was printed in early April, things will look a lot different than they do as I sit at my (home) desk today. But one thing undoubtedly will remain the same: pest management has been deemed an essential service since we protect public health and property.
With so many individuals and families sheltering in place, there literally is “no place like home.” As children participate in distance learning, and adults work from kitchen tables, I imagine keeping a pest-free home becomes an even higher priority for them. If they can’t go out in public, their homes now become a place of even more-than-normal comfort and caring. Are they going to allow ants in their kitchens and bees on their kids’ playsets? I think not. And add to the mix a wet spring following a mild winter, well, I think that’s a recipe for increased calls for your company during this national crisis.
And speaking of homes, some good news is that technicians are already skilled when it comes to social distancing at residential accounts. With so many perimeter treatments being performed, there’s often no need for employees to step inside most residences.
At commercial accounts, it’s a bit different in that your technicians have required stops to make. But with today’s pest control technology, including the ability to monitor traps remotely and the use of hand-helds/smartphones that allow quick checks and electronic data recording, PMPs can continue to provide their essential services, while at the same time protecting technicians and customers by limiting contact. This is especially important for sensitive sites like hospitals and nursing homes, which are grabbing so many headlines today.
Another way our industry is prepared? Many technicians work from their homes already, receiving supplies there or popping into the office for a weekly pick up. We know it remains important to stay in touch with all employees during these unprecedented times but please be sure to especially check in on those working out of their homes.
Please share news about how your company is dealing with challenges associated with this nationwide pandemic. We’ll continue to cover it daily online and in print. And drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe I’ll send you a meme in return.
The author is editor of PCT.