After months of uncertainty, stress and financial hardships, businesses across industries are finally receiving the green light to reopen. Some businesses are cleared for a full reopening while others face service limitations and access restrictions.
Each state, county and municipality has different restrictions and operations right now and there are several good links and guides online. One good first stop is your local Chamber of Commerce — The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce has an excellent collection of information.
Guides like this and updated national information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help you as things change rapidly. As you review these resources, start developing a list of your own unique requirements before opening your doors:
1. Find out where to get your area’s most specific and current guidelines for reopening. In many cases you will want to review overall state guidelines first, then county specifics then drill down to your individual city. In some cases, individual cities may have variances even within your broader county area.
2. Make a specific list of your reopening paperwork required for your industry — Do you need to file specific forms? What needs to be displayed for customers to view?
3. Make a detailed list of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and physical elements you need to acquire for your business such as face masks/guards, plexiglass dividers, hand sanitizer stations and additional wash areas if needed. Also be sure to check your industry or trade associations to see if they have preferred suppliers or discounts to retrofit operations as needed.
4. Develop a specific reopening plan for your business with realistic timelines for meeting the requirements in items 2 and 3 above; if supplies need to be ordered and/or installed or retrofitting needs to happen, make a working timeline with hard dates based on delivery windows or construction needs.
5. Determine if technology can be implemented to help mitigate risk. Touchless ordering platforms and payment processes and use of things like QR codes on menus and order boards can help minimize the number of times your customers need to touch communal surfaces, lowering risks of transmission on shared equipment.
6. Talk to your HR team or consultant about important updates to time off policies, family leave guidelines and other leave of absence situations. If you do not have in-house HR staff, look at options such as ThinkHR as an outside resource to help you navigate this rapidly changing and tricky environment — It’s better to invest now in professional advice to set up your work environment to minimize potential employee issues down the road.
7. Schedule a check up with your insurance broker. Dramatic workplace shifts have led to changes in operations and your exposures. Speak with your broker to determine if your policy needs to be modified to reflect revised sales projections, staffing or other issues. Make an appointment to re-visit these modifications as well later in the year as things continue to evolve. Your broker can also direct you to any specific webinars or educational tools your carrier may be offering at this time as well.
8. Examine workers’ compensation changes: In addition to reviewing your overall business insurance policy with your broker, this is a good time to also ensure your workers’ compensation coverage includes employee absences due to COVID-19 illness.
9. Establish a communication protocol with all your employees: Everything is different for business operations across the board. Your employees are facing new kinds of stresses and external pressures you may have never faced in your workplace. More than ever, it is critical to communicate with your teams and find out how everyone is doing, what issues are popping up, encourage feedback from staff on how to improve operations and just generally encourage a positive attitude. Establish a feedback system if not already in place and regularly solicit input on how your business can best adapt to the ‘new normal.’