Businesses are beginning to open up again after the unprecedented nationwide shutdown. Crippling business restrictions have turned out to be too much for many small businesses around the country. Some business owners, to avoid inevitable permanent closure, have chosen to defy mandated lockdowns.
Others have done their best to adhere to the standards being passed down from local, state, and federal authorities. Wherever businesses land at the end of this lockdown, this season has been everything from challenging to devastating. It’s redefined normal and changed the way we view business.
If you own a business that is fortunate enough to have survived these past few months, you have a critical path in front of you. You must open up your doors, support your customers, take care of your people, and set a trajectory that moves your business forward. Our economy needs businesses to succeed.
To help you in this process, we’ve compiled some questions to ask and some tips, suggestions, and business-readiness advice to enact as you prepare to open your doors again.
Not every employee is going to be comfortable returning to work. On the other side of that scenario is that you may not be ready to have every employee back. Limited operational and financial capacity may require that you need to strategically assess your staffing needs. You may want to bring some essential employees back immediately and others back gradually. You may want to bring everyone back on a limited scale. Bringing your employees back too soon could put too much strain on your already fatigued operation. So figure out exactly what you need and act accordingly. Don’t let excitement or panic force you into making short-sighted decisions.
Do all that you can to make sure you’re making general hygiene simple for your employees. By providing hand sanitizer, tissues, and antibacterial wipes, you’re supporting your employees as they stay in control of their health. As part of this effort, also be sure you’re giving employees enough control over their level of exposure to other people. Try doing things like letting them opt out of face-to-face meetings or setting up a socially-distanced workspace that’s different from their regular office.
Some of the things that will need to change for you will be the way your workplace is arranged. Just like you’ve seen grocery stores set up plastic barriers between cashiers and patrons, so also you’ll need to think about how your space is supporting the social distance guidelines that have become our new standard. Look at your surroundings and consider what changes to traffic flow, furniture set up, and work spaces can make a sustainably healthy environment possible. Look at putting plastic tables up to keep people distanced. Look at adding plastic dividers or less-porous office furniture that are easy to disinfect. Your space is a tangible and practical way to show your commitment to health.
This crisis has meant that we all need to redefine what normal is. Our personal and professional lives alike have been drastically impacted. As you prepare for your business to reopen, you should approach what once seemed simple or commonplace with fresh eyes. From the way you interact with your customers to the way you hold staff meetings, nothing is as it once was. It simply comes down to opening your eyes and looking at everything with a new perspective.