Thomas Tobin: Utilities Must Act Now to Protect Key Staff from COVID-19

UNTV News   •   April 9, 2020   •   90

BLOOMSBURG, PA., April 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Thomas Tobin, Pennsylvania based software developer and President of Diversified Technology Corp, issued followig statement.

As COVID-19 spreads rapidly across the United States, there is an increasing call for businesses to cease operations or allow workers to telecommute. With the majority of US states are on state-wide lockdown, the remainder are expected to follow as the situation continues to deteriorate.

Ironically, as the population ducks for cover, some of the people most at risk are being required to continue working. The staff of utility organizations, classed as essential workers, will continue to report to their jobs regardless of how dire the situation becomes. The problem is that a large percentage of workers manning utility offices across the country are close to retirement age and at risk of death or serious injury from COVID-19. They would really benefit from being able to telecommute during the crisis.

Those employed in billing departments are particularly vulnerable as the virus can live on surfaces for several days. Anybody handling checks or cash that was paid by infected customers could themselves become infected simply by touching their face after handling the infected items.

Although the CDC believes the chance of being infected after handling cash is still low, China’s central bank went as far as disinfecting potentially tainted cash that could have been carrying the virus and taking it out of circulation. So the risk is present, particularly to people like cashiers who are handling potentially infected notes and checks for hours at a time.

The situation is much worse than it should be, because as other industries embraced the convenience of online billing systems, many utilities held back, unwilling to change. Part of the problem was this group of ageing personnel, uncomfortable with online systems and worried about the possibility of being made redundant. Thomas Tobin, Pennsylvania based software developer and President of Diversified Technology Corp, who has helped many utilities take the digital leap in recent years, believes it is now crunch time for utility organizations still holding out.

“It’s hard to justify holding back any longer when key staff and customers are being exposed to this virus. Now is the time to take advantage of established technology to improve the efficiency, productivity and safety that comes with online payments,” said Mr. Tobin.

Mr. Tobin believes the transition to online billing is much easier than many managers believe. “It will not only allow staff to work from home, but it will reduce costs and speed up the process of being paid.” Said Mr. Tobin, “in fact, I can’t think of a single reason that it would not be good for business.”

To help Utilities make the transition, Mr. Tobin’s company, Diversified Technology is offering their online customer portal and payment system, WebLInk, free of charge to their clients during the crisis, saving utilities $1,500.

“We’ll set up your entire billing system free of charge, pay the application fee and setup fee for any utility client who wishes to transition to automated payments. That includes all the support and training necessary to get you up and running,” said Mr. Tobin.

“It’s important for everybody to understand that in this time of crisis, there is a practical solution that will allow you to remain fully operational while your staff can be quarantined and protected from the virus.” said Mr Tobin.

With some experts believing COVID-19 may become a seasonal infection like influenza, online billing systems are set to become the norm for every organization receiving payments.


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