Planning for a Safe Reopen—Whenever That May Be
July 13, 2020
In our last post, we talked about how to do business in a post-pandemic world. Of course, no one knows just when the end of the pandemic will come. Many business owners and leaders are determining that—to stay afloat financially—they need to make some tough decisions between now and then. Among them is when to reopen.
Regardless of whether you have yet to open your doors, or whether you’ve been running full steam ahead for some time now, it’s always a good time to check in on and retool your processes to make sure your operation is running as safely as possible. Doing so will help you, your customers and clients and employees get back to business with confidence—whenever that may be. And with proper protocols in place, you can help prevent incidents that could do unnecessary damage to your bottom line.
With that in mind, let’s look at some steps—approved by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—to help you reopen—or stay open—safely.
Check state and local protocols. As of now, guidelines and regulations for reopening are coming primarily from state and local governments. As such, be sure to consult yours before building your plan. First, based on current guidelines, determine whether your business is even allowed to reopen. It’s important to be aware of this first and foremost—as opening without the governmental green light could result in significant consequences, from fines to losing necessary licenses.
Once you have the OK to open, you’ll have to ensure that everyone in your organization is adhering to any other rules and restrictions in place. For example, if everyone must wear masks to walk through your doors, it’s up to you to uphold that—and ensure your employees do, too.
Make sure your facility is ready for opening day—and beyond. Consider whether your need to make any physical changes in your building to ensure it’s ready to welcome others, whether that’s a skeleton crew packing boxes or an influx of customers, clients or patients who have been waiting to see you for months.
Is it time to invest in some plastic or glass barriers, mark the floor at six-foot increments to inform patrons of where they can stand or sit safely, close communal spaces, reduce seating or hire a COVID-ready cleaning service? Perhaps this is the day to splurge on hospital-grade sanitizers, germ-killing UV lights or coordinated masks for your team. Whatever physical needs your building or staff may have, make sure they’re taken care of before you rehang your shingle.
Develop a plan to monitor employee health. If your organization is composed of more than just you, you need to have a plan to keep everyone who works with you safe and healthy. If everyone can work from home, you’re all set. But if your line of work requires anyone to come to a physical location, you need a strategy.
To ensure everyone has the proper personal protective equipment to be safe on the job, consider providing it for them—especially if your industry requires you to adhere to specific protocols, such as the use of N95 masks.
Since we know how effective PPE can be, this isn’t a place to skimp. Even if a specific type of mask isn’t required, think about getting everyone cloth face coverings and gloves, to start. And bonus: a uniform look will make your team feel more professional and pulled together, too.
In addition to having the right gear, it’s a good idea to check temperatures and symptoms on a daily basis. You can purchase a no-touch thermometer for quick readings and have employees self-report their current symptoms before walking through your doors.
Another way to cultivate peace of mind and keep your team safe? Regular COVID-19 testing. Sending your employees for frequent tests helps prevent community spread, and sharing this important addition to your protocol will help put your colleagues and customers at ease. In fact, that brings us to our next step.
Share your safety efforts with all stakeholders. Of course, putting these safety-promoting strategies in place is beneficial in and of itself, but it’s just as important to communicate your efforts to your employees—and to the public. When you do, they will not only understand what you have done to keep them safe, but also grasp their own role in protecting your community. And, as we know by now, preventing the spread is a collective effort.
As we continue to embrace this new normal, just as you’d do when instituting any burgeoning venture or concept, be prepared to adapt. There is so much we don’t know, but we are learning more every day. As additional information becomes available, be prepared to adjust your approach to ensure you’re operating at the top of your game in terms of safety. When you do, the rest of your business will follow suit.