Upper Valley Businesses: Open & Safe
We’re taking a moment to appreciate businesses who are taking every precaution to keep their facilities safe for you to visit. In the face of a pandemic, we recognize that businesses need to open—both to provide important services to the community but also to support local employment and economic stability.
We hope the good work by these business will inspire consumers to feel safe visiting their local Upper Valley businesses, and will provide helpful information for other businesses to open safely.
Monitoring your health is another way to protect yourself and others. This includes watching for fever and taking your temperature if symptoms develop. According to the CDC, this is good practice for anyone who is running errands, going into the workplace, or into any setting where it may be difficult to maintain a distance of 6 feet. It is important for employees and customers alike to stay home when they are unwell. We appreciate the Upper Valley businesses that are looking out for the health of their employees and helping to keep our communities open and safe.
To showcase one such business that has risen to the challenge, Upper Valley Strong interviewed Dan Harrington, Area Manager for Mascoma Bank working out of Springfield, VT, about how the bank has changed their business practices in order to safely serve their customers.
Mascoma Bank has responded to the coronavirus by:
- Expanding online and digital services
- Temperature and symptom screening each employee every day
- Requiring face mask use for employees and customers
- Implementing sneeze guards at the teller line and in all offices
- Limiting the number of customers in the branch at one time
- Encouraging operations staff to work from home
- Developing more frequent and extensive cleaning practices
Pictured: Rick Lemay, Area Manager of Mascoma Bank, takes a selfie with socially distanced employees in Hanover, NH.
Pictured: The Drive-Through Kiosks at Mascoma Bank are regularly sanitized for ongoing customer safety.
Read the full interview with Dan Harrington, Area Manager:
Q: How has the pandemic changed the way you operate business at Mascoma Bank?
Dan Harrington: In most ways, it’s changed business to more of a online digital electronic communication style where we’re having to be more savvy with our approach with customers, much less face to face interactions, but still remaining open, operating, and having to service our customers through other platforms, you know, email and online account openings and just having to be more digital so we can tell our customers yes still for all our service options.
Q: What is Mascoma Bank doing to protect its customers and its staff from the virus?
Dan: Absolutely. So when we walk in in the morning, you know, we’re immediately greeted by signs on the doors. “If you have any COVID symptoms, please do not come in.” There’s another sign that talks about wearing masks. There’s another exterior sign that says please remain socially distanced. So just trying to be very open and public that we’re taking this seriously, and that there are steps you need to take to come inside. That’s the immediate. When you walk in the door, our staff is asked to take temperatures so we take temperatures of all of the employees that come into work physically in the branches each day just to make sure that no one runs the temperature. Along with the temperature, there’s a questionnaire that we get asked as well from our safety and health coordinator bout COVID symptoms. Then we ask that if any employee is going to be working in a branch that they wear a mask at all times. We’ve installed plexiglass at all of our windows on the teller line and plexiglass in all the offices. That way there’s a physical barrier between us and our customers. We have opened back up but to a limited capacity. And that varies based on branches, the size of the lobby and what have you. In Springfield, for example, the capacity is 10. That includes staff as well. So we have to be cognizant of how many staff we have in the branch at one time to justify how many customers we can add at one time. We are seeing those customers are still happy with using drive up or night drop or ATM to make deposits or mobile deposit. You know we’re having less traffic inside the branch with transaction levels still being limited based on that. Other things that we’re doing our IT department went through and was able to get the majority if not all of our operations staff to be working from home using digital platforms to be able to work at home so they could remain social distanced and not have to come into work. Off the top of my head are the biggest things that we’ve done to mitigate risk here for our co-workers and our customers.
Q: Are you requiring customers to wear masks or just the staff?
Dan: As of July 29th, it is mandatory for all customers to wear a face covering.
Pictured: Plexiglass dividers are in place at Mascoma Bank for each teller as well as in the offices.
Pictured: Teller accepts paperwork under the door for customers who are uncomfortable entering the branch.
Q: What would you say to a potential customer who’s interested in opening a new bank account and is worried about going into a branch but might be less worried if they knew that branch was following procedures?
Dan: Yeah, I guess what I would tell them is if you do have apprehension, please feel free to open your account online. By doing that, you can then come through the drive up to make your initial deposits or put it in the night drop to make your initial deposit and we can process your account opening without having to physically come in in person. If you have questions about products, we can certainly talk with you over the phone about it. But if you do want to come in because you still like that face to face interaction, just know that we’re having a cleaning company come in and clean our offices and nights, we are cleaning throughout the day, we’re wearing masks as employees, we have the plexiglass to provide that physical barrier, limited capacity. So I think we can ease any hesitation from customers based off of what we’re doing.
Q: I know that Mascoma Bank usually has summer barbecues at different branches. I’ve heard that this year you’ve done something different in place of those barbeques. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Dan: We have a barbecue schedule that we do every year. I don’t know the number of barbecues that we do each year but a lot of branches have a big community barbecue at the branch and we see a lot of our customers, sadly this year, we wanted to remain, you know, socially responsible. So we didn’t open up barbecues this year, but because of the need in our communities with their food banks, the money that was spent towards putting on these barbecues, we were able to donate those funds to our local food shelf. So it was still a way to be able to provide meals, but in a socially responsible way this year.
Q: What do you think is the value in a time of crisis of having locally minded and locally focused businesses?
Dan: Yeah, I just think we can relate to each other more because we are local. We know what we’re going through. We are, you know, going to our state houses and talking to our lobbyists. We’re Vermont or New Hampshire citizens. So when we talk to our customers who are also Vermont, New Hampshire citizens, we can relate on a very like-wise level because we’re going through the same things during this pandemic. Consequently, our culture has always been, you know, customer-first and doing what’s right for the customer. And I think we’ve shown that through how we continue to operate our business through the pandemic.
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COVID-19 Resources for Businesses
“Science & Practices to Keep Workers Safe and Businesses Productive as the COVID-19 Pandemic Changes.”
Featuring video recordings and PowerPoint presentations from the recent Dartmouth-Hitchcock course.
CDC Resources for Businesses and Workplaces
Providing free resources for a safe opening, ongoing virus mitigation, as well as prevention and support.
OSHA: Guidance on Preparing
Workplaces for COVID-19
Download OSHA’s brochure for recommendations and information to provide a safe and healthful workplace.
COVID-19 Resources from NH Department of Health and Human Services
Download a Free Toolkit from Mask of Wellness
Give customers confidence to patronize your business; knowing it’s following our three simple ‘Covid-Conscious’ practices of masks, hygiene, and health.