Reopening Your Business in a Post-Coronavirus World
We’re back in business and it’s never been a scarier time to open the doors. What does it mean to be a business owner in a post-coronavirus world? It means taking preventative measures to ensure that your business gets back on track without risking the health and well being of your employees and customers. It also means looking back at the setbacks your business may have suffered over the past few weeks and tweaking your business plans for the rest of the year. We’ve compiled a list of important matters every business owner must take into their own hands before officially reopening their business. Stay safe.
Bringing back your employees may be more challenging than you think. Some will be hesitant to leave home, fearing infection if they break out of the quarantine. Others have gotten used to the idea of relying on the stimulus package through July (an extra $600 a week is no laughing matter).
It may be tempting to trim down your workforce, especially if you’ve fallen behind during the lockdown. But if you’re going to get back on track, streamlining your operations may not be the best way to go right now. To continue growing, you need to keep pushing, and that means having the right people in place. Otherwise, you’ll face hiccups along the way.
To get people to return to work, you may have no choice but to threaten your laid-off employees with firing them, which would cause them to lose their health benefits. Tell them about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides them sick leave or expanded family and medical leave if they do contract COVID-19 while on the job.
If you’re forced to hire new workers, the good news is that while some people may continue to remain in self-isolation many are struggling to get by and are actively looking for a job.
Do not allow any employees, who are sick or showing any symptoms of a coronavirus infection, to report to work. You may otherwise be endangering yourself and the rest of your employees. You also have to consider employees who may still have small children at home or high-risk individuals living with them.
Some counties are setting guidelines for safe reopenings so check in with what your local officials are advising. For the most part, taking the temperature of employees and wearing face masks will be the norm in most workplaces.
Putting New Vendors and Partners in Place
Even though you may be opening back up, your partners and vendors may not. It’s a good idea to start talking with the people you rely on in your operations to see if they will be working again. You may end up needing a new vendor, for new measures like having to ship products to your customers who used to come to you. There will be shifts in how things get done based on whether or not your partners are back to business as usual.
Reorganizing and Cleaning the Office or Warehouse
Before anyone returns to work, make sure all carpeting and floors are deep cleaned. All surfaces need to be wiped down with disinfectant. It’ll be a challenge to maintain 6 feet of distance between employees. Consider keeping some departments working remotely so that you can modify the shared work spaces by staggering seats and designating some workspaces as buffer zones. Keep hand sanitizer in centralized areas of the office as well as disinfecting wipes. Encourage employees to clean their work space’s surfaces on a daily basis and to wash hands and use sanitizer regularly.
Buy enough masks for all your employees and customers. Some people will bring their own, but others will not have one or they’ll have an inadequate one. You may also consider bringing in latex gloves to distribute, depending on the work you do and how much contact your customers have with surface objects. Encourage your employees to wear protective masks at all times, even if you’re in a cubicle setting.
Rethinking Your Business Model and Business Plan
Is this a good time to pivot and create a different revenue stream? If you’re not able to jump back in and go back to how things were before the lockdown, you may want to consider tweaking your business model. Is there another way to utilize your company’s resources and expertise to make money? It’s a question worth asking. Think about what you sell and who you sell to. Is there a way to make changes here to forge ahead? How about delivery of the product to the consumer -- can this be tweaked for a better return?
While your projections for 2020 may be absurd now, considering what we are going through with the coronavirus pandemic, be wary of making so many cuts that it impedes your growth entirely. Trimming the fat is a good idea, but avoid making any cuts that will slow down revenue that will keep your business running.
Make Sure You’re Insured
You may have learned during the pandemic that you had inadequate business insurance or that it didn’t cover you the way you’d hoped it would. Let that be a learning lesson, but make sure you get the right coverage in place from here on. You still shouldn’t have to pay too much for commercial insurance, even if you get full coverage, including business interruption insurance or a business owners policy, which includes business interruption and commercial general liability in a bundle deal. Each business is unique and has special risks it must mitigate. It’s important to work with a trusted insurance agent who has your best interests in mind as well as the expertise to ensure that you are covered from every angle.
Consider Special Hours
If your business is a retail business or even a restaurant, consider having special seniors hours, just as grocery stores have in place now. This way, your most vulnerable customers can still get what they want with less risk than coming to you during regular business hours.
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