You cannot turn on the news or look online without seeing a barrage of news updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. The rules, guidelines, and safety recommendations from local, state, and federal government officials are constantly changing, often without much lead-time, and this is leading to confusion among consumers and business owners alike. That said, businesses in many areas of the United States are beginning to welcome their employees and customers back after months of restrictions and mandated shutdowns. If your business is slated to reopen soon, it is imperative that you implement safety measures. Each state has its own safety requirements for essential and non-essential businesses, so make sure you check online to see what you need to do prior to opening your doors. In addition, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the latest employer information. Balboa Capital wants you, your customers, and your employees to stay healthy during this transition. Read on to learn how to reopen your business safely.
Tailor safety measures to your environment.
All work environments are different. Commercial offices, manufacturing plants, restaurants, retail shops, dental practices, and grocery stores involve unique business activities, and their workplace footprints and amount of person-to-person interaction varies accordingly. A small business that has only a few employees might seem safer than a large company with many employees that interact with lots of customers, but that is not always the case. Therefore, the best way to protect your workers and customers from COVID-19 transmission is to enact safety measures as recommended by the CDC, and by your state or local government officials. Some of the common safety measures that apply to all businesses include enhanced cleaning protocols, physical distancing rules, physical distancing signage and floor art, and wearing face coverings. Businesses in the retail, manufacturing, hospitality, and manufacturing industries, among others, have installed plexiglass barriers as checkout counters and workstations. Companies that operate in traditional offices have changed their seating arrangements to allow more space in-between cubicles and desks.
Get your employees onboard.
American workers share the same concerns about COVID-19 these days. Surveys conducted by several leading news organizations and business websites reveal that 7 in 10 Americans are concerned about being exposed to COVID-19 at work, and over 8 in 10 would rather work from home. Therefore, companies need to do more than just enact safety measures. Prior to reopening, they need to educate their workers on the new protocols so they can feel more confident and be productive without having to worry unnecessarily about health concerns relating to COVID-19. You can make this announcement and present your safety protocols in a company-wide webinar or a company meeting with social distancing, and have an open question and answer period once it concludes. This needs to be a complete team effort. If any of your employees come to work sick or avoid your new safety and hygiene protocols, they will disrupt morale and put everyone’s health at risk.
Stagger your start times.
Most workers in the United States work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, it is quite common for employees to work 8 a.m. to 4 p.m, or even 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. By offering different work schedules to your employees, you can minimize crowding in the parking lot, building entrance, and elevators or stairs in the morning. This will also eliminate the “mad rush” at the end of the day, when everyone leaves the office at the same time. Additionally, staggering your start times can free up space in common areas such as lunchrooms, break rooms, and office kitchens because your employees will be on different schedules.
Stock up on cleaning and disinfecting supplies.
This is a critical part of your safe work practices plan, and for good reason. Scientific research shows that cleaning and disinfecting doorknobs, desks, computer keyboards, counters, faucets, and other frequently touched surfaces is an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, it is imperative that you stock up on cleaning products, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes and sprays, and make them accessible to your employees.
Stay on top of regulations and requirements.
The return-to-work strategies in this Balboa Capital blog post are based on information that has been made available by the United States government and our nations’ leading medical organizations. There are a number of safety protocols and requirements that are tailored to the needs of specific businesses in every state and city, and they change often. Therefore, it is a good idea to be proactive and regularly look online for the latest revisions and updates so that your business is compliant and not at risk for potential legal issues.
There is no way to predict how many COVID-19 cases will be diagnosed on any given day, or when the curve will be flattened, so you need to have an up-to-date safety plan in place or your employees, customers, suppliers, and everyone else who will visit your business. Lastly, if your business has successfully shifted to remote work, you might consider keeping that setup in place for as many employees as possible. This is the most obvious way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.