Every month Prairie Business asks several business professionals a question or two. This month's question is: What is something new that your organization has done differently because of the pandemic that it likely will continue doing when things improve?

James Hagen, Secretary of South Dakota Department of Tourism, Sioux Falls, S.D.

We have a few team members who work remotely across South Dakota. Due to COVID-19, we have implemented more Zoom calls than we have in the past. I believe that we will continue to utilize video conferencing for team meetings, small catch-up meetings, and daily briefings, even once we are past this pandemic. Because our team culture is so important to us, these face-to-face interactions with our staff play a critical role in ensuring we maintain a positive work culture and sense of connection between one another.

Dr. Maria “Duffy” Meyer, DDS and Owner of High Plains Dental, Dickinson, N.D.

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The pandemic has highlighted the importance of many protocols and policies that dentists already had implemented in our offices. Dentists are highly trained in infectious diseases as well as health and safety protocols. This pandemic highlighted the importance of our dental teams and medical teams working together. Moments like these drive us to better ourselves and up our game.

The health and safety of my patients and my staff are at the heart of what I do. Dentists already had very strict sterilization practices, so we didn’t have to add many extra processes or protocols to meet the new recommendations from the American Dental Association and Center for Disease Control, but we have improved our PPE and made changes throughout the office to help people stay healthier and happier. Oral health is the gateway to overall health and dental care is essential so these extra steps are worth it to keep everyone safe.

There is some really fun PPE out there and a lot of great companies who switched to producing very high quality PPE. I think the biggest thing that will remain in place in my office after the pandemic is that I am really going to focus on American made products and hope to support these amazing companies and their efforts to increase our supply of PPE and other needed items.

Guy Moos, President of Baker Boy, Dickinson, N.D.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Baker Boy has embraced the efficiencies of video calling software such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. The rapid acceptance of these technologies within our company tells me they are here to stay.

When the pandemic eventually subsides, we plan to continue holding meetings using these video calling services. Not only are they wonderful cost-saving tools, but they contribute to a rise in productivity and improved thought collaboration that can be attributed to face-to-face interaction as opposed to a faceless phone call.

Our sales team members live in three different time zones. Prior to COVID-19, this team rarely saw their colleagues face-to-face. As stay-at-home orders set in, they became the first to embrace video calling technology as a way to discuss sales strategies and, more importantly, meet with their customers.

Some apparent proof that video calls are here to stay was during a recent monthly update. It had always been a sit-down meeting that drew around 15 to 20 employees to a conference room. In our first attempt at holding the meeting using Microsoft Teams, more than 40 employees participated. We expect to continue using these tools long after the pandemic has passed.

Jesse Fonkert, Executive Director of Lincoln & Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations, Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations serve 14 member communities around the city of Sioux Falls along with Lincoln and Minnehaha counties and a variety of private partners.

Each month, our board meetings are held in Sioux Falls. For some members, traveling to Sioux Falls can take up to 45 minutes which negatively impacts attendance and participation. Since the start of the pandemic, we have been meeting via Zoom and our attendance rate has drastically improved.

While it took some time to get used to, the general feeling has been positive. Going forward, we will make attendance via Zoom an option for all board meetings and expand the frequency of our committee meetings.

While tragic, the pandemic has forced us to innovate and find creative ways to continue operations. Many were unaccustomed to meeting via video but now our board members are becoming experts!