About two to three times per week, we get a phone call, email or text asking if The Computing Center is open. The simple answer is: YES, WE ARE! WE NEVER CLOSED! Early on in the Covid-19 Pandemic, computer technology companies like ours were deemed essential businesses in New York State. As we said in our March 20th Blog post and email to our clients:
As of this writing 100% of non-essential employees can no longer report to work. Because of what The Computing Center does in supporting essential businesses in our community, we are allowed to maintain in-house operations. Some of the essential local organizations we directly are supporting include:
- Healthcare organizations, hospitals, and physicians’ offices
- Financial institutions including banks, credit unions, and insurance companies
- Accountants offices
- Animal shelters
- Human Services organizations
- County and other government offices
- Ithaca-Tompkins International Airport
- Logistics companies
Although it seems forever ago, our world had changed. So, with relatively little guidance, we needed to figure out how to stay open and how to do it while keeping ourselves and our staff healthy and safe. What did we do it? Looking back, we took what was published at the time, contacted some of our health care clients for advice and made what seemed like good choices to us. Primarily that included:
- Washing hands frequently and using hand sanitzer when hand washing wasn't possible.
- Disinfecting all surfaces along with equipment coming in the door.
- Wearing disposable gloves when handing computers and other equipment.
- Having our engineers and others who could work remotely.
- Sending anyone who wasn't feeling well home.
- Restricting access to anyone from the outside.
Remember, Covid-19 PCR testing wasn't generally available till the latter part of March. And much of the guidance we now take for granted didn't exist:
- Wearing masks
- Social Distancing
- Outdoor vs indoor exposure differences
- The effects of crowds - % of employees in the workplace.
- How long the virus lasts on various surfaces
- Any kind of consistency between businesses
- Daily employee screenings
- Taking employee and visitor temperatures
How did we do? We're happy to say - we pulled it off. No one at Computing Center or any of our families became infected. We did have a couple of concerning situations where employees early on were exposed to some client employees who ultimately tested positive, but our people were fine.
Today, we are all still healthy, the rules and recommendations are more consistent across all businesses, and we're helping many local businesses that were shuttered reopen and recover. Our technical staff still can and does work remotely, but we also go onsite.
Our logistics group does free local pickup and delivery of computers printers and printer consumables. With so many people working from home, our consumables businesses (inks and toners) has greatly increased. We have most of the major brands of printer inks and toners used in our area in-stock.
When you come to our offices, (we recommend setting up an appointment) you'll find:
- "X" spots all over the office floor marking off 6' increments to help people socially distance.
- If you're not already wearing a mask, you'll be asked to wear one - we have extras if you forget yours. (Ours are logoed!)
- We'll take your temperature (and if it's above 100.4 degrees, you'll be gently asked to leave). We'll also ask you if you've been exposed to anyone that has been ill over the past two weeks.
- If you haven't made an appointment, we'll ask you to sign-in.
- If you bring in a PC, laptop, or printer with you, it will be wiped down with a disinfectent cloth before we work on it.
- If you're just dropping off a machine, we have a work area just to the right of our interior lobby door where you can fill-out all the paperwork without having to come into the office.
- The place is spotless - it gets cleaned and disinfected daily.
This is The Computing Center's version of the "new normal". Please remember - Shop with locally owned businesses and organizations. That's how we will all get through this, survive and thrive.