Open for Business: What Phase 2 for Business Owners Means
If you’re a business owner, “Phase 2” may be the most beautiful words you’ve ever heard. It’s been a tough crawl for most businesses since coronavirus began to spread at an alarming rate. However, it seems that people are itching to get back to how things were before lockdown.
While each state has a different mandate and some counties are under stricter guidelines than others, most businesses are either opening back up or looking forward to doing so very soon. However, this does not mean we’re returning to “normal” and we will probably not go back to how things were until there’s a vaccine for COVID-19.
Phase 2 is one part of a slow process of getting Americans back to work. Just as in phase one, moderate physical distancing is highly advised in phase two, though not 6 feet specifically. It’s also advised that you avoid social settings of more than 50 people and situations where appropriate distancing is not possible.
In reopening, there will be challenges along the way, like convincing lower-wage employees, who receive more money during the layoff, to come back to work. Other considerations include your vendors and partners. It’s a good idea to reach out to the people you need in order to get your work done to make sure they are ready for your reopening. If you own a restaurant, for example, make sure your suppliers are also ready to go. If not, you may have to make some adjustments.
Before you make any plans for opening back up, check the status of your county to make sure you’re complying with the law. If you’re free to reopen, here’s what Phase 2 means for your business.
1. Are Your Employees Sick?
The coronavirus has not gone away and Phase 2 is a reminder that we must all still be vigilant. COVID-19 is here and will be here for years, experts warn, but a vaccine may be available in 18 months to two years. Until then tell employees who have the symptoms to go home. Most states have increased testing capacity, so tell the employee(s) who are ill to contact their doctors right away and explain that they may be infected with COVID-19. The last thing you want is to be declared an infected area so be rigorous in checking the health of your employees.
2. Bring Masks
It’s advised that all your employees wear masks. It’s a good idea to have a reserve in the workplace in case people show up without them. If you’re reading this last minute and you’re opening tomorrow, make them yourself. Some people use socks, which have the natural curve at the heel and help cover the contours of the face and require no elastic bands. Get on YouTube, buy a bunch of socks and get to it!
3. Regular Cleanings
You probably cleaned the workplace or plan to do so before reopening but cleaning once is not enough. You’ll need to set up a schedule for how often the area will be cleaned and who will do the work for you.
4. Bring Disinfectant Wipes
Wipe down surfaces regularly and encourage your employees to do the same. Keep lots of disinfectant wipes on hand and accessible to everyone.
5. Bring Hand Sanitizer
Hopefully your store is not clear out of sanitizer. It’s a good idea to stock up for the workplace.
6. Social Distancing
You’re still advised to keep a safe distance between yourself and others, and you should only return to work in phases. Do not bring your entire workforce back at once, especially if it will constitute 50 or more people.
You’ll also need to set maximum occupancies if you own a retail space. Many people are creating markers with tape to show how far to distance when waiting in lines and how far apart to sit from one another. Follow that lead and do the same prepping of all common areas. Stagger work stations, and make more room by selecting which employees can continue to work from home. Choose the more vulnerable people to do telework as well those who live with someone with a compromised immune system.
Business Insurance Policies
Many small businesses have a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP), which bundles the essential commercial coverage necessary, like property insurance, business interruption insurance and general liability. If you didn’t have this plan, you probably suffered a great loss with COVID-19 without any reimbursement. Make sure you have the right business insurance this time around.
2. General Liability
If you do not have a comprehensive insurance policy on your business, reconsider your insurance options. At the very least you ought to have a general liability policy. General liability coverage would pay for medical costs for injuries to a third-parties and damages to a third-party’s property. It also protects against libel and slander by covering legal bills associated with the business.
3. Business Interruption Insurance
Unless contagious diseases were excluded on their policies, business interruption insurance covered costs for some business owners when the pandemic resulted in closures. This coverage also protects businesses against storms or any covered event that forces closure or makes a workspace uninhabitable. If you don’t have this kind of policy, consider how it may be helpful one day.
4. Workers Compensation
Workers’ compensation is legally required in every state. It offers benefits to workers if they are injured or get sick due while on the job. Workers comp covers medical care, lost wages, disability benefits and even some final expenses.
For the reason of not having a claim filed against you for poor working conditions with remote workers (yes, you may be on the hook even in their homes), home inspections are necessary, and photos or videos of the work environment are also important to keep handy.
5. Get Cyber Insurance
Have your IT department set aside time to make proper checks on laptops, tablets and desktops to keep them safe from intrusions. Set up a secure connection from the worker’s home station to the company network. This may prevent an attack.
As people shifted to working from home, hackers broke into many remote workers’ computers and seized valuable business information from many companies. Whether you have lots of remote workers or not, cyber security is important. It’s no longer a matter of if your company’s assets will be hacked but when it will come under attack. It’s important to have a cyber insurance policy. Make sure you buy the right commercial coverage.
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