With all the changes we now face in our daily lives with staying safe, it’s imperative for business owners to get creative with their strategies for reopening. Ensure that you have all the tools necessary to help your employees stay and feel safe during this uncertain time.
Here are eight steps you can take to get up and running again in the safest way possible.
1. Plan for social distancing
One of the major issues business owners are facing with reopening’s is social distancing. How can you ensure that your employees and customers maintain a safe distance from one another in the space you have? If possible, make hallway traffic one-way only, and think about how you can keep employees who work at the front of the business — such as a receptionist — protected during interactions with the public. Plexiglass dividers can work wonders. Also, think about how to handle distancing in restrooms; you might turn multiple-stall bathrooms into single ones.
2. Bring back essential employees first
If possible, only bring essential employees back first, or figure out a split-shift schedule that will allow for distancing. Keep in mind that these changes may need to be kept in place for several months, not just several weeks. Just remember that if you received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, you'll be expected to use it to continue paying employees or to rehire them. If some can perform tasks from their homes, consider allowing them to do so.
3. Stay on top of guidelines
Because health guidelines-as well as those for reopening storefronts and other businesses-are changing often, it’s essential to stay on top of the rules in your state that affect your company. OSHA has shared guidelines for employers, although these are not legal regulations.¹ You can also check regularly with the White House online to find out what you can do differently. ²
4. Clean regularly
Guidelines for reopening might differ from state to state, but one thing everyone can agree on is that cleaning and disinfecting regularly is essential for every business. Take a thorough look around your office or storefront and identify areas that are used and touched throughout the day. These should be disinfected several times per day. Don’t forget about door handles, light switches, and faucet handles. If your business sells items that require trials or testers, consider taking those off the shelves for the time being. The CDC has guidance on how to properly disinfect a facility. ³
5. Have a training plan in place
When your employees come back to work, you’ll need to have a plan in place on how to train them for reopening safely. This might include making sure they understand the rules about wearing a mask, how to properly clean various areas, and how to handle things like accepting shipments and packages. It’s also a good idea to create a plan for accepting visitors, which might include placing a sign or spots on the floor so visitors can have guidelines on social distancing.
6. Prepare for gaps in your schedule
It’s important to remember that some employees may not be ready to come back, and others may be immuno-compromised and won’t want to return so soon. If possible, create a plan for some employees to work remotely, and fill in gaps in your schedule as needed. In some cases, you may be able to hire temporary employees who can help fill in when you’re especially busy.
7. Keep your employees’ information safe
While some employers are adopting methods of taking their employees’ temperatures before they can start work, it’s important to keep in mind that personal health information will need to be kept confidential. For this reason, if you’re going to perform temperature checks, it may be easier to simply have a supervisor present who can look at the thermometer. This way, nothing needs to be written down. If your business employs a large number of people, temperature checks might not be feasible, or you may want to allow employees to do self-checks.
8. Utilize technology as much as possible
If you have a lot of employees who need to work in the same office, encourage them to use technology to communicate with one another whenever possible. There are many different chat features available online these days, as well as virtual meeting rooms, that allow for social distancing even within the same building or office space.
With so many changes being made to the way we live — and with so many Americans struggling to make ends meet — the way we do business has also been altered. It’s important to expect challenges as you move forward, particularly when it comes to maintaining sales or finding new customers. Remaining transparent about your policies and being flexible will show both employees and clients that you’re ready to accept them safely.