At ACO we build solutions together | Covid-19 pandemic

The ACO family is facing the biggest challenge in the company history.

As members of ACO we are all in this together. It is our belief here at ACO that together we have the knowledge and skills to navigate through these troubled times. Every one of your contributions to this site therefore is valuable information and can help and inspire others.

With this in mind, we have designed this site with the sole aim to enable ever one of you to share your knowledge, solutions and adaptions of existing systems and in this way to build an ACO - information pool to everyone´s benefit. We therefore kindly ask you to please consider sharing your experience, knowledge and solutions referring to

  • Operational infrastructure (e.g. splitting teams etc.)
  • Personal Protective Equipment (e.g.masks, hand sanitizer etc.)
  • Digitization of Sales Channels (e.g. Web trainings).

Our intention is that everyone might profit from as well as contribute to the site content. Any kind of successful strategy or interesting content-management, even for smaller anecdotal challenges in your operational area, would be highly appreciated. Please send your valued suggestions to lea.woldag-schwauna@aco.com. Thank you!

Disinfection of hands

Disinfecting hands proves to be a simple yet very effective way to reduce risk of infection with virus-related diseases including COVID-19. Disinfectants today are much friendlier to the skin than the repeated use of soap: studies have shown that the skin actually benefits from a protective disinfective film on the hands.

Consequently, disinfectant dispensers should be available at every entrance, sanitary facility, kitchen, changing room and social room...

Disinfection of all surfaces and appliances

While disinfecting your own hands frequently adds to your own and everybody elses´personal safety, it is equally important to disinfect the surfaces that are prone to be touched and handled by many hands every day and therefore true deposit places of bacteria and viruses – yes, including the corona-variety included. The next person to touch such a surface might just pick up the virus and transport it from hand to face within a short period of time. People touch their faces unconsciously more than 600 times a day!

To minimize the risk of such smear infection, all surfaces, floors, door handles and displays should be disinfected several times a day, at least once after every shift.

Touchable surfaces are easily identified on diverse technical equipment shared by multiple team members. Just picture a forklift truck for example used by multiple team members and through all shifts! A way to negotiate infection risk is to make sure every truck has paper and disinfectant on board. This way the steering wheel, displays and other well-handled surfaces can be cleaned by the driver before leaving the truck and by the new driver before operating equipment. This should keep every one safer!

Employees could also be advised to wear gloves during their shifts. But please communicate that you can also transfer the virus from the surface of your glove to your face, so disinfection of surfaces still remains necessary. It´s a hassle, but it´s well worth it.


Separation of teams

Splitting Teams in A, B or even C-Teams is recommended in pandemic plans as a very effective way of minimizing or cutting infection chains. It also enables us to satisfy legal requirements to continue work should it happen that anyone contracts Covid-19.

As a consequence of team-splitting policy, only the team with a sick member would have to be quarantined instead of everyone.

The teams left after such an event could be split again for the two weeks of quarantine of the other team members.

This way everyone contributes to keeping everyone working – it´s not just a technical safety measure that we are implementing but a valued act of solidarity.

To guarantee that teams do indeed not encounter each other at any time it is advisable to:

  • Provide time for a break of at least one hour break for cleaning and disinfection between all shifts
  • Kindly suggest that employees who are separated during shifts possibly also refrain from meeting privately. Please show your appreciation for this additional willingness to keep everyone safe.
  • If somehow possible, provide completely separated social, sanitary and social rooms. One suggestion of how to do this is to rent containers. Each container could be clearly marked with the Team´s name or could be color-coded. Entrance to the container should be restricted to team members and cleaning personnel only.

If it should prove impossible to separate sanitary and changing rooms like this, please consider whether it seems appropriate and manageable to ask employees to shower and change at home.

Mobile Working
Any employee able to work from home should do so.

Isolation of departments/buildings

In regular times we value and welcome interactions between different buildings and departments. They are an important part of our work environment. However, right now and for the time being to the safety of all, we have to do something that actually is quite alien to our ACO workplace atmosphere and separate and isolate different buildings, departments and units from each other.

For now, buildings should only be entered by persons working there. Even for people working in a building walking around and communicating should be reduced to an absolute minimum.

Examples (and please keep in mind that these are temporary measures!):

  • Every door should be locked, blocked or at least provided with a safety sign/warning to not enter the building (e.g. with a table). Bells can be installed on locked doors.
  • If exchanging documents (e.g. by logistics) is needed, mailboxes can be installed. These should be emptied wearing gloves.
  • Employees who deliver in-house mailings should only enter the entrance area of each building and drop mailings for pick up by the receiver.
  • Some ACO sites even have installed wire rope hoists to exchange things between floors
  • External visitors (e.g. logistics staff) should – for the time being - not be allowed to enter buildings. They can exchange documents through mailboxes and should also be provided with own sanitary facilities.

Information and Education for Employees

Even though everyone seems to suffer from an overload of information at this time, it still seems important that we support our employees in understanding which information is part of our decisions to keep everyone safe.

Therefore we emphasize the need for continuous information and education of all employees. Keeping decisions transparent can be the key to limiting fears and the baseline of good communication! This is all the more important as many of the newly minted rules are presenting employees with a very different and more isolated word environment.

We do value every one enduring these new rules for as long as they should prove necessary, and we believe that this should be communicated throughout the crisis. We value your contribution and we work to keep you and your families safe. Because this, in the long run, is what these rules and restrictions are about.

This said, please ask employees to observe the following regulations:

  • Use all displays and all highly frequented areas during this times to raise awareness for hygienic behavior (wash hands and use hand sanitizer, cough and sneeze holding up elbow, keep distance, at least 2 meters)
  • You can raise awareness by providing “Hygiene Information buttons” (see and download below) on every door and entrance
  • We would welcome your sending our E-Mails and videos to your employees. This might also save your time. But if you should have developed good material and ideas, please feel free to share this with all of us and inspire us!
  • With this goal in mind you can provide internal webtrainings e.g. Use of masks as shown on the left/above
  • People have questions! Please be mindful that it is normal that new rules raise concerns and fears. Please encourage your employees to ask for support where they need it. You can also set up internal websites that answer the most frequently asked questions of your employees so that everyone has quick access to an answer to some of their concerns
  • Please make sure everyone´s also has a real life communication partner. Sometimes a dialog is more assuring than the technical answer
  • You could also set up a Covid-19 hotline that employees can call if they have sorrows or questions. Make sure the person answering the hotline is trained beforehand and understands that callers might be under pronounced stress or in need of reassurance that they are still working in a real life environment
  • We expect some employees will feel increasingly ill-at-ease as time goes by, and we are preparing to provide support. Mental and physical health of everyone and their families is on our minds as we react to the crisis. Many carry burdens that are possibly destabilizing work-life-balances in major ways. People have small children or elderly parents to care for, and this additional stress can add up significantly over time. Preexisting health conditions also can aggravate as the pandemic draws on. We consider it very important that information on how to contact the company doctor is readily available if an employee has confidential health related topics so they will find a communication partner as soon as the need arises
  • Please let employees know that the company doctor is legally able to pass on necessary actions without a statement of reason to the HR
How to properly wear a face mask

See this video on how to properly wear a face mask:

Face masks

We know it can feel disconcerting but wearing face masks is an important measure to keep the workplace safe. Therefore we ask for your everyone´s active support in wearing disposable face masks (or FFP2 or FFP3 or protective visor+disposable mask) as a mandatory measure when walking around the premises or when encountering other people/colleagues seems likely. To answer possible questions and reduce stress responses to this rule we consider it important that employees receives an introduction on how to handle face masks correctly by a company doctor or for example by distributing this video by Dr. Magdalena Peinecke (Occupational Doctor in Rendsburg).
Face masks need to be disposed in special containers that are clearly marked for disposal masks and are handled like medical waste.

Mask Adjusment Clips
ACO cares for your comfort! ACO USA have started printing Face mask clips to make it more comfortable to wear a mask with ear loops over a longer period of time (see pictures in gallery below).

Selfmade Masks
Many sites and colleagues have started sewing their own face masks, for example ACO in the Czech Republic. This is a good way to address existing shortages in mask supplies. Taking sufficient hygienic care of those masks is crucial to ensure they actually have protective qualities. They need to be washed daily at 95° and need to be ironed afterwards. Selfmade masks should only be worn when no medical masks are available.

Icons for Download
Informational “Hygiene Buttons” are available for download here.


Please use the Orderform below/on the right if you are facing challenges in ordering medical masks.


Orderform Facemasks

We are all facing a huge shortage of masks at the moment. On top of this challenge, many mask suppliers have minimum purchase quantities of 10,000 pieces and more. We are responding to this additional logistical challenge by trying to bundle the demands in the ACO group to be able to order higher quantities.

Please kindly let us know the demanded quantities of your site in the form on the right (mobile: below) so we can check if it is possible to place orders together. We will get back to you a.s.a.p.


Visors

Tests in Germany and UK have demonstrated that wearing an FFP2 mask during physical work is hardly reasonable. Instead, it has been advised to provide the employees with visors. It has been recommended that these should be worn at the same time as a simple disposable face mask. Every employee should be outfitted with his or her very own personal visor. The visor needs to be disinfected with alcohol from the in- and outside after every shift.


Gloves

We are aware that the recommendation to wear protective gloves has been critically discussed recently. There is a lot of information to process right now! Yes, it is true that viral matter can also be transferred from your gloved hands to your face. The true protective quality lies in disposing of the gloves after touching a variety of surfaces that might be prone to contamination. So employees wearing protective gloves, should definitely be made aware that touching the face with gloves would still transmit the virus from any exposed surface to their face. To fully benefit from protective value of gloves, these have to be pulled of very carefully after use and disposed in a garbage pail with a liner and a lid. It is mandatory, that hands be disinfected right after disposal of gloves. Please clarify with your employees that the use of protective gloves, while providing additional protection, may not lead to carelessness with respect to social distancing and rules about hygiene like face-touching.


Taking temperature

In Germany, the government has published plans for pandemic strategies in the workplace to keep everyone as safe as possible. The guidelines have been published by the Federal Agency for Civilian Protection and disaster management (Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz and Katastrophenhilfe) and they include to introduce entry-stations for the workplace which are designed to take employees temperature by contact free (infrared) thermometers. The data is not being recorded, respecting our employees informational privacy while at the same time taking our responsibility to protect everyone at the workplace very serious. We are legally obliged to do this, but we also trust that this will provide our employees with a heightened sense of security during their work time.

Employees who feel sick have another reason to feel encouraged to stay at home and find it easier to make the decision to take care of themselves. At the same time they actively help protecting coworkers!

Controlled entry by contact-free temperature measurement will be implemented at ACO in Rendsburg during the upcoming weeks. It is mandatory – and has proven very successful - at ACO China already (Fotos).

All information about the procedural organization will be published here in the upcoming week. Please be assured that we will continue to do everything we can to keep you and your families healthy!

Application for collective purchase order (Disposable Mask, FFP2, FFP3)


Please choose the number of masks you need:

Webtrainings for our customers

The ACO group is continuously looking for ways to make digital communication between ACO members, but also in relation to our customers, easier, more efficient, and ultimately, more enjoyable. Good digital communication technology can add significantly to the way all users, ACO group members and customers, experience teleconferences, digital events and webinars organized by ACO as positive and enjoyable.

Good digital communication technology is as simple as effective a tool to allow customers to actively experience hand-tailored information on products of the ACO group. A well-designed and easy to use communication platform helps to create corporate identity, strengthens customer loyalty and is indispensable for gaining and defending shares of the market against competitors.


livestorm.co

We have identified the software Livestorm as in compliance with all of the above described needs. ACO UK and ACO Austria have tested this video conferencing and webinar software internally and are now rolling out the tool for their customers. If you are interested have a look at the "Webinar Academy" Website by ACO Austria here: http://www.aco.at/service-askaco/online-services-askaco/webinar-academy/

Livestorm offers a variety of digital communication forms suitable from small meetings to company-wide events, one-on-one meetings with customers to accelerate decisions processes and sales, as well as webinars and host presentations. You can even easily create live podcast videos with guest speakers. Because the software is so versatile and visually pleasing, it makes for a good one-for-all place for all your digital communication needs. We expect it could be a great way of easing customer´s into accepting different digital forms of product information as the software adapts to very different types of events and scales with attendees.

The tool has proven to be very easy to join for customers and has an integrated scheduling and reminder function. It works on all browsers and devices, which makes it very flexible to use and further fosters acceptance. This also means that your attendees can join from anywhere. The software will help you to engage your participants as you would in a live-meeting, (just use the “ACO-background”) to spark real conversations between attendees and translate results into actionable insights.

One of the great perks is that Livestorm handles (almost) everything for you. You literally just have to plug in your webcam and microphone. There are no downloads, plugins or add-ons. The company emphasizes that everything you might need is there for you ready-to-use, from day one. This includes all of your webinar data, which is also available in one place. You can use built-in dashboards to analyze your performance and adapt your strategy based upon available data.

ACO Austria has tried the Software and is happy to share their experience with you to help you get started as well. Read these tips based on their experiences for hosting a Webinar for our customers by Daniel Sattler (ACO Austria). Thank you, Daniel!

  • We recommend that you use an ACO background when recording the seminar. This is especially useful when you are recording from a fair or an event to reduce visual distraction in the background.
  • There is a great function that allows you to “Prerecord the Webinar” . You can then use the prerecorded seminar while still running the event as a live event, because Livestorm enables the use of prerecorded videos as "live" to the attendees. In our experience, this can really reduce stress and inhibition for you as an organizer and host because you can edit your performance beforehand. After all, we are not trained to appear on television. You colleagues will undoubtedly enjoy this option, too.
    As a good side effect: Playing your prerecorded video during your live session opens up time for you to answer chat questions (in the chat function on screen) live while the webinar video is airing. This is a great way to focus, identify and attend to the needs of customers.
  • a professional microphone (e.g. RØDE) is recommended as a good sound makes the experience even more enjoyable for the customer
  • Still we recommend: Keep it short and simple. Web-conferences should not be exhausting your attendees concentration and enjoyment, rendering a great performance into a so-so experience. Less is more: 30 minutes seems a good timeframe to still seem fres

E-Learning Videos

Another way to incorporate information and interest to your events is to include E-learning-videos from a great variety of topics in your webinar. The ACO-group has recorded quite a few E-Learning videos over the course of the last years. You can now pick and choose and hand-tailor webinars and live events, presenting a variety of media in one format.

This will enable customers to find the right products for their needs. You can then follow up in one-on-one sales talks, provide further information and maybe even conclude sales orders in just one session.

Sales teams can also outline tools and strategies beforehand to optimize customer experience and support.

If you can´t meet you customer in a live showroom, this may be your second best bet. Even if you meet them in a live showroom or at a fair – being prepared with additional instructional and informational material that you can easily forward to your customer will still be a great way for customer support.

You will find video content on YouTube (e.g. www.youtube.com/user/acogroup) and also on our E-Learning Platform www.online-academy.aco. Putting those videos together for our customers as well as our sales teams can support sales teams in their goal to enable customers in being able to choose the right product for their project.


MS Teams

We are currently also exploring if Microsoft Teams, which we have been using for web-conferences lately, offers attractive and comparable possibilities to do webinars with customers and to conduct surveys. We´ll keep you posted!


In the meantime, if you have insights and tips for well-done web-conferences, webinars and customer sales talks using digital communication, we´d love to hear from you!

We´d like to end with a quote from the classic US baseball movie “Field of Dreams” (great recommendation for your next weekend!). This quote says all there is to say about quality digital communication, great webinars and your customers:

”If you build it, they will come!”