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Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the DSM Forward interactive FAQ page. This page features links to important area resources and answers to questions posed by past readers. Please use the form provided to submit additional questions if needed.

Current Impact

What is the actual status of the virus in Iowa?

For the latest information on the status of COVID-19 in Adair, Dallas, Guthrie, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek and Warren Counties, and throughout the State visit coronavirus.iowa.gov.

What is contact tracing?

When an individual catches COVID-19 or is suspected to have it, contact tracing is performed to identify everyone who has recently been in physical contact with the affected individual. Contact tracing is performed by public health officials, and you will be contacted by them if any action is necessary.

For more information about statewide COVID-19 testing, visit Test Iowa.

How long can the virus live on surfaces like mail, boxes, counters and coffee machines?

Plastic: 3-7 days; Stainless Steel: 3-7 days; Copper: Up to 4 hours; Glass: Up to 4 days; Paper: Up to 4 days; Cardboard: Up to 24 hours; Wood: Up to 2 days

Keep in mind: Although COVID-19 can be detected on these surfaces for a particular length of time, the viability of the virus, due to environmental and other conditions, is not known.

What are some options for childcare when parents need to return to work?

The Iowa Department of Human Services launched an interactive map showing the locations of child care providers around the state and which ones have openings for children. The map is updated daily.

Future Trends

When is the right time to return employees to work?

As of early May, the State of Iowa has begun its phased reopening plan. Businesses in 77 counties were permitted to open on May 1, 2020 at 50% capacity with industry specific restrictions. The other 22 counties should continue following state guidelines for social distancing and restrictions on business and activities until May 15 or otherwise instructed by the Governor.

Human Resources

What are some recommendations for making work hours more flexible to facilitate remote work?

Remote working is likely to continue in some form for the long-term. You should hence familiarize your organization with the standard protocols and procedures for remote working. Consider the following steps:

  • Try a multi-day remote working trial run with a small pilot group before extending the opportunity to more staff.
  • Train your managers on leading remote teams — and setting expectations for staff performance.
  • In turn, train staff on best practices for remote working — and ensure they have the necessary resources to do so (e.g. a personal computer, essential stationery)
  • Ensure reliable communication channels exist for team communications (e.g. Microsoft Teams, Slack).
  • Make sure that staff regularly check-in with their managers.

Do recognize that you will need to respect your employees' private spaces and family obligations. Limit all communication to within work hours where possible. Also recognize that not all employees will have optimal home environments for remote work, and that you should pro-actively help them adapt to remote working conditions.

What are the appropriate social distancing guidelines for the workplace?

The physical worksite should be marked with six-foot guides to allow staff, customers and visitors to easily adhere to recommended guidelines for distancing.

How can I manage common areas such as the cafeteria?

Please see the guidance provided from the Iowa Governor's Proclamation of Disaster Emergency and the guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Now that I'm working from home, what are some ways to maintain a balance of work and personal time?

Finding work-life balance is all about prioritization. Planning and scheduling, time management, communication tools, and productivity techniques help you manage your workday so you can complete the tasks on your to-do list quicker. Some helpful tips on managing your day include:

  • Clearly communicate your online and offline hours
  • Get ready for work as though you're going to the office
  • If possible, work from a clutter-free space in your home specifically dedicated to work
  • Take frequent breaks to recharge: walks, personal chores and having proper meals can all be leveraged to give you a break

Are there small business resources that I can take advantage of?

Although these are unprecedented times for small businesses, there are preemptive steps that can help to mitigate the economic impact of the Coronavirus as you continue to do business. The GDMP has compiled a list of resources for small businesses.

How should I plan for the rest of the year and beyond?

Organizations should use dynamic scenario planning to test different reentry plans with estimates of their likely multiple outcomes. While the future is uncertain, sketch out business plans based on different virus patterns, a possible second wave of infections and quarantine, changing consumer habits and local, state and federal guidelines. Thinking through a variety of conditions now will help organizations move into the strategic execution of these plans more quickly as trends emerge over time.

What are important factors to focus upon to manage cash flow?

Cash flow will continue to be mission-critical moving forward as revenues will not return to previous levels immediately as the economy reopens slowly. Organizations should take three steps to improve cash flow management:

  • Improve Customer Collections: Focus on reducing late payments, shortening credit terms, and ensuring error-free invoices.
  • Optimize Supplier Payments: Lengthen credit terms on payments, stop any early payments, and move to the end of the accumulation period.
  • Lower Inventory Levels: Holding less inventory should provide additional liquidity for the organization. By reducing safety stock and improving forecasting for the new environment, organizations will be best equipped to deal with cash crunches.
Sales & Marketing

How should we adjust messaging during and after the pandemic?

Marketing and sales leaders should review messaging when referencing the pandemic in sales conversations and marketing collateral. Sensitivity to the implications of the crisis for your clients and sharing information from credible and reputable sources will build trust.

What are tactical steps we can take to keep sales efforts going?

Although there is no magic bullet solution for selling in challenging times, there are some key actions sales professionals can take that can help:

  • Revisit segmentation. Different industries are being impacted differently and will have different recovery times. Your industry map will need to be revisited to take the changes into account so that you can better focus attention where it is likely to be more successful
  • Ensure everything is online. Sales professionals use a variety of techniques to showcase their product or services. All of these elements need to be able to accessed virtually. Sell-sheets and brochures are a simple example of items that are simple to move to a format such as .pdf but there are more subtle cues that are worth creating:
    1. Tours and demos can be moved online
    2. Familiar customs can be replicated virtually. The habitual coffee or meal meetings of the past can be moved into this environment by sending a bag of roasted beans or takeout from the restaurant where you would meet.
  • Be prepared to move quickly. Sales cycles may shorten during the pandemic recovery period. Business may feel "behind" and will required needed goods and/or services quickly. Your firm's ability to process requests (estimates, bills, contracts and delivery) quickly may drive incremental sales.
Government & Public Resources
Additional Resources


Legal Disclaimer

The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.