As business owners, we’ve been waiting to receive the much anticipated “green light” to go back to work. As this day inches closer, you’ll need to devise a plan that addresses how your business will function post-pandemic.
Many of you made changes due to COVID-19, including laying off staff, taking on loans, and making financial changes because of cash flow constraints, so bringing your business back needs to be well thought out, as this “new normal” will require it. While there is only speculation about when business will resume as usual, it’s important to take the time to prepare now.
In addition to planning precautions in the event of a second wave, I’ve outlined below three key questions I encourage you to consider in preparation for reopening your business:
1. What changes should I make to my company’s health and safety procedures?
Although non-essential businesses may be given the okay to go back to work sometime soon, it doesn’t mean that the risk of COVID-19 transmission has ceased. You may choose to continue the practice of social distancing in your office to mitigate the risk of transmission. Consider spacing out desks or gradually bringing back all of your staff to work in the office. Additionally, you may want to delay in-person meetings with your clients and opt for virtual meetings instead. If your business is open to the public, you may choose to limit the amount of transactions that occur at a time, the type of payment you accept (i.e. no cash) or implement protective equipment safeguards to create physical barriers between your staff and customers.
2. How should I tend to the needs of my employees?
There are many factors you should consider with your employees returning to work. Firstly, maintain open communication with your employees about when you anticipate reopening your business. Even though non-essential businesses may reopen soon, the same may not be said for schools and/or childcare centers. Give your employees sufficient time to sort out childcare accommodations, or consider allowing them to continue working from home for the time being. Secondly, if you are recalling employees that were laid off, provide them with an anticipated timeline. Depending on customer demand, you may not require your full staff right away. If you believe this will be true for your business, be transparent with your employees so they can weigh their financial options. Lastly, tend to your employees’ specific needs. This pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, so consider asking your employees what exactly they need from you to feel safe as they return to work.
3. What should I tell my customers?
There’s a good chance your customers have been waiting for this day to come. You’ll want to inform them of when you intend to reopen and any changes you’ve made to procedures to protect their health and safety. In doing so, you can encourage them to continue using your services while also setting the expectation that things may not be entirely back to normal. Additionally, if you made changes to your service delivery during the pandemic, you may consider asking your customers if there’s any desire to maintain these services as-is or revert back to your former business practices (i.e. selling products online, curbside delivery, etc.) Of course, you’ll want to consider any financial impacts before making these decisions.
As you can see, there are many factors to be considered in preparing your business and staff to get back to work. Use this time to plan and think through how you will ramp up and avoid having to scramble at the last minute.