This year has introduced many unusual and unexpected changes in our lives. With the year already more than halfway over, many companies across the country have started establishing how to best to operate their businesses during this pandemic. Employees have also been challenged with new tasks added to their normal job duty rosters.

Easier Said Than Done?

But not all workers operating within stores are able to follow that same retail employee playbook. Recently, MSOs (Merchandising Service Organizations) have been faced with a big bunch of brand-new challenges: like how to get into multiple store locations and get their product setup safely. Industry-wide changes have been made with an eye toward how things should proceed within the retail atmosphere to ensure a safe environment for workers and customers alike. But what does the future hold exactly for MSOs working in these stores daily?

Having the product at the store and setup correctly to the planogram or promotional display plans are some of the major parts of a MSO’s duties. But with the workers on the frontlines in modern day, they are presented with a new batch of concerns. Serving a territory, reps are walking into work at various locations several times each day – and that means dealing with some level of uncertainty. It’s a concern that has been echoed across industries. Even though the individual retailers’ stores may have a tight system in place for pre-shift screenings and increased sanitation and cleaning guidelines, the individuals working during these weekly visits are taking extra precautions and adapting their daily task list to finish the workday out safely.

Companies who oversee these individual field reps can align safety precautions to what is happening in retail at a larger scale. Providing teams with necessary (and required) personal protective equipment like safety mask, gloves, and bottles of hand sanitizer could be used between store visits to get these field workers on an even footing with different stores’ procedures across the country.

Can you do even more to prepare your field team?

Along with that, MSO’s could be facing a unique opportunity to lean into the safety of these independent employees. Another way to provide an added level of comfort would be to work with store managers to supply the reps with cones or signage to block off a small area of the aisle, as they work to stock the shelves or set displays in store. They’ll be able to go about their work - safely distanced from customers and able to get their job done – taking care to sanitize the area and any equipment used during their visit, then safely disposing of any gloves, masks or trash on the way out. All with minimal disturbance to shoppers and maximum focus on safety and health of shoppers and workers alike.

Even though there is a general guideline to follow in stores, it’s always challenging to accept the possibilities of workday improvements. As the world continues to figure out the best way to safely move business forward, another consideration for MSOs might be to allow teams additional time in the day to complete tasks. This ensures workers aren’t rushed or risk getting complacent or skipping cleaning or sanitation steps. Giving field teams this kind of flexibility in their day - as well as communicating steps being taken to protect them while they work -  can help keep them engaged in their jobs while also affording them peace of mind.

The Next Normal Starts Here.

By adjusting procedures around how work gets done and addressing shifting needs –  companies can implement policies to benefit all teams and customers. As adjustments are made, processes are tweaked, and more time goes by it's going to be increasingly important to keep calm and carry on. Remember, the adjustments made today will become the normal of tomorrow.


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