If you have had to shut down your business in the past 9 months due to COVID and are still struggling to get back on your feet, your employees and customers are likely right there with you. Adjusting to the “new normal” isn’t easy, but it is crucial to put your business first! As you continue to embark on your re-opening journey, there are always more adjustments that can be made. Here is a guide to caring for your customers and employees during this time.
The first thing you will want to do in the process of getting back on your feet is to make a financial plan. You need to analyze the money you have lost during shutting down and set a goal to reach for the rest of the pandemic. This may be hard because it is so uncertain when the country will go back to normal. However, set a time frame that you think is reasonable for you to reach your goal of making that money back and safely operating your business. Share this plan with your team and make sure they have strategized with you.
Once you decide to re-open your doors, you must prepare for a possible outbreak at your business. You should have emergency procedures set in place, so your business wouldn’t be hit too hard if this were to happen. This may mean all operations shut down completely, everyone works from home for two weeks, or the people who were not affected or in contact with the people within the outbreak take temporary control at the physical location of your business. The best thing you can do is be prepared for situations like these and create an emergency plan so your team can take immediate action.
If you have created a detailed emergency plan, you likely included the possibility of working at home. If so, you should invest in virtual workplace software so that you and your employees have a direct way to communicate. You should set up how you want these platforms to work and what systems will be used together. Will you have weekly meetings using Zoom or WebEx? Are you communicating solely through email, or are you using GroupMe or Slack? There are countless applications out there that can be used for your operations. Just pick one that will serve your business best and have it prepared in case of a virtual transition.
Your number one priority should always be to keep your employees and customers safe while also providing a great experience for them. No matter what service you provide or product you sell, set-up different ways for customers to receive their purchases. Many companies are currently utilizing curbside pick up where customers can order online and have their purchase delivered to their car. There are the regular in-store pick-up option and regular shopping as well. If you do not have a website set up for your business to provide these services, it would be ideal for you to do so. Consider the costs of delivery for your product or service as well. Always keep social distancing guidelines in mind and ensure your capacity is never over the limit.
Since coronavirus is spread through the air and sticks around on surfaces, you’ll want to look at more in-depth ways to clean your business’s facility. If there are regularly touched items, make sure they are cleaned after each use or require clean hands before touching. If there is a way for you to sanitize the air, look into how you might go about doing that. You want your business to be as clean as possible to not be a part of the virus spread. Implement new routine cleaning techniques and consider hiring more staff if you need to. Remember, you can only stay open if you operate safely and with extra caution.
With the need for higher cleaning standards and an emergency plan, if employees get sick, you might want to consider hiring more staff if you can afford it. Create new jobs like a car-runner or host that implements social distancing and mask-wearing. This will help your business function more efficiently and provide jobs for people who may have lost theirs during this pandemic. By having more staff, you can get creative with your social distancing practices and re-invent your process to provide quick, contactless service.
Since these employees are working for you during a pandemic, they risk their lives being at work every day. Consider the burden that they carry and how working might impact their personal lives. They may have no other option but to work, even if it may put someone they live with at risk. Paying your employees more than their regular wage will help incentivize coming to work. Plus, it shows them that you value your employees.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guide a business operation that helps prevent spreading the coronavirus. They suggest things like “daily health checks” and “wearing cloth face coverings in the workplace.” Following these guidelines will prove to the public that you are taking all of the lengths to remain safe while remaining open. Ensure masks, sanitizer, and single-use items are available for staff and customers.
Having strong communication with your entire team is key to your success within the pandemic. Checking in with employees and seeing how they handle working during the pandemic and knowing their health condition is important. Make sure they are following the rules you set in place for safe practices, and have them update you on any problems they may be having. Going the extra mile to get to know your employees will help you evaluate their risk of working as well. Since this is an unprecedented time, allow your employees to be honest and genuine with you, and be sure to set reasonable yet attainable standards for your team.
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