Across the United States, restrictions set in place for the COVID-19 pandemic are beginning to lift. Each state is setting a timeline for when the shelter-in-place orders will lift, and with the reopening comes many questions.As we reopen our businesses, it is vital that we do everything possible to make our workspace as safe as possible while at the same time taking steps to improve and innovate within our industry. We’ve put together a look at how businesses will reopen after COVID-19, looking at the general considerations before opening as well as giving you a few pointers to make sure that you emerge thriving instead of simply surviving
Check State Reopening Information
Don’t forget to check the State-by-State Reopening Guide provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to determine when your business can commence trading. Every business will be challenged as America goes back to work, but it’s imperative that across all industries, we do what we can to improve safety. Once you know when you’re allowed to open, you can start devising an efficient, effective reopening plan. Remember, planning your opening avoids any potential issues that you’d have to resolve on the spot.
Check CDC Safety Guidelines
Safety is the foremost concern of each of us in both a personal capacity and as a business. All companies need to focus their resources toward creating a healthy, safe environment for both the public and staff. Regardless of which type of business you operate, every precaution must be taken to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading. The CDC has complete guidelines for every business model across each industry, but here’s a brief overview of how you can keep your workplace, staff, and customers safe. Compare your own plan action against the guidelines and see what you need to do to remain compliant and as safe as possible.
Equip Your Staff With Safety Equipment
Before your staff even arrive at work, you need to equip them with the proper protection necessary. Face masks are compulsory, and while not every business will be able to afford the most expensive face protection available for all staff, make sure that basic face masks are provided for everyone. Face shields are another highly effective option that is both comfortable, and cheap to obtain and maintain. Staff must be given proper usage protocols covering the healthy use of their masks. There is no point that everyone is wearing on from time to time if the mask is contaminated during lunch or a smoke break. Gloves, personal sanitizer, and a mask should ideally be given to all staff.
Setup Staggered Arrival & Departure
Devise a system of staggered arrival for your staff. Make sure that the bare minimum employees are in each designated space. You don’t want crowded work areas, while every employee needs their own equipment. Anything that is touched by more than one person will need frequent disinfection. Make sure that staff stick to designated areas within the business. At the end of the day, make sure that your staff leaves in a staggered fashion as well, even if it means that you’re letting a few people leave early each day, with staff taking turns.
Clean & Disinfect Everything
Cleaning and disinfection are essential to the reopening of every business. Routine cleaning on a daily basis, multiple times a day, is essential. Any regularly accessed surface or a surface in a public area need to be wiped down with soap and water at a minimum. Don’t neglect walls, floors, and ceilings. Additionally, disinfection using an EPA-approved substance that is confirmed to work against COVID-19 is a must for any surfaces, areas, and objects touched by multiple people. If you can’t afford or find an EPA-approved disinfectant, then use 1/3 cup of bleach to one gallon of water or a sanitizer that carries a minimum alcohol concentration of 70%.
Provide Hand Sanitizer
With your workplace and the items therein clean and cleaned according to a repeating schedule, it’s now time to make sure that basic sanitization is covered for your staff and employees. While approaches may vary, such as those utilizing automatic dispensers, it is normally advised for every business to control the access to their premises while limiting the number of customers. Before we give more guidance in this regard, assign an employee to the entrance and exit of your premises to not only provide access control but to sanitize the hands of your customers as they enter and leave. Don’t mix your chemical cleaners, and opt for an alcohol-based sanitizer as it is the most versatile while leaving no lasting smell. All it takes is one spray, and sanitized basket/trolleys when needed, to assure safety.
Limit The Number Of People In Your Store & Setup Visual Social Distancing Markers
Guidelines for every business will be different, but one can generally estimate the maximum number of customers to be allowed in your shop by the space available at your till points. Six feet of space needs to be maintained between your customers while cueing. Evaluate the point of sale points on your premises and the space available for people to stand in line. Paint or affix markers in place to guide customers to queue properly, keeping the correct distance between them. Once you’ve made these visual markers, you’ll be able to see how many people can cue at a time without causing congestion. This figure lets you estimate how many people should be allowed in your store at any given time fairly accurately.
Put Up Signs Covering Your COVID-19 Policies
Don’t forget that your customers and staff will need help navigating the safety and social distance markers and protocols put in place by your business. Have a staff member assigned to providing guidance around busy areas, and put up signs that instruct people on how to behave. The fewer customers and employees you have going to management to look for reasoning behind why you’re socially distancing in the way that you are, or what mask protocols are in place, the better. Ideally, everyone should be aware of how you’re handling the pandemic, and how they should behave within your premises. Staff should be briefed on their expectations and safety regulations regularly, and kept in check/accountable, while customers should be given assistance before they behave incorrectly or hastily.
Keep On Innovating
Now that your premises and staff are prepared for physical business, never stop improving. The current situation faced by us all is new, and we’re learning to adapt together. If there is a way that you can reduce human contact, then go for it. Stick to workplace safety guidelines, and make sure that high-risk staff is working from home. If you don’t already have an online presence, then now is the time to grow one. Consider providing eCommerce in addition to brick and mortar business if you don’t already, and always try to include delivery as an option no matter what. Every conventional sale that required a trip to a physical place will eventually have an online counterpart, so don’t be left behind. Grow your business network using cutting edge tools such as platforms like MyOpportunity, and connect with others to share strategies for moving forward through this taxing time, and evolving the way that we do business.