As more and more countries continue to manage and overcome COVID-19, many businesses are getting ready to reopen. However, there are a myriad of questions surrounding the endeavor. What can people what to expect in this new, post-pandemic world? Will all employees still have a place back at work? What about the customers, will they return in full force? And how will my overall business be different? Is it really worth reopening SMBs so soon?
No one has the answer to these questions. But according to the CEO of Basic Business Concepts, companies preparing to open will need to be in survival mode if they hope to outlast the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. In the US, individual states, townships and counties are in charge of reopening plans for their own jurisdiction. However, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has released guides for reopening small and medium sized businesses. Similarly, the US Chamber of Commerce has also published a playbook for reopening SMBs. You can also find a lot of useful guides in business publication as well.
Unfortunately, these guides are nothing more than recommendations. They are not hard and fast laws. This is why it’s up to individual businesses to properly implement physical distancing along with other recommendations. So as your team goes back into the workplace, it’s of the utmost importance to develop solid action plans for infections, closing scenarios, supply disruptions, sick leave among others. Try to review all guidelines with your specific industry and organizational roles and responsibilities in mind.
Below is a comprehensive guideline for reopening your SMB according to the CDC.
Reopening SMBs: General Guidelines from CDC
According to the CDC, there are seven key steps involved in the preparation for reopening. And among these seven is a golden rule that states – prepare to be flexible in your business operations. Businesses that deal with in-person ops have to prepare for mandatory or recurring cycles of opening and closing as the health situation evolves.
Fortunately, technology offers companies the flexibility required to keep ops going regardless of the public health situation. For instance, there are cloud based solutions that let workers securely log in from home. So depending on your industry, you’ll need to identify new opportunities to shift your focus on, even temporarily. A few examples include how cloth makers have shifted to creating masks and other PPE while restaurants are now leaning more towards outdoor dining, takeout and delivery services.
Reopening SMBs: Physical Safety
We’ve only managed to control the spread of COVID-19. As such, customer and employee safety should still be a top priority. If your employees can work remotely (even part time), then that’s the safest option. Other techniques such as staggering shifts means fewer people sharing the same space. Make plans for what happens if some employees test positive for the pandemic. Obviously, sick employees have to stay at home and self-isolate. Likewise, you need a protocol for sending more members of your team home or even closing your location down temporarily. Specific guidelines for physical safety according to the CDC are as follows.
Retail SMBs need to consider curbside pickup which limits the number of customers in the store at once. To assist, post some signage or other measures to enforce physical distancing. Next, all your work and food stations have to be separated by at least six feet. Consider installing sneeze guards or plexiglass partitions between the work stations to further prevent COVID transmission. And finally, offices, hospitals and factories need policies around sharing the same work space. In this case, deep cleaning, temperature checks, and mandatory PPE for employees and clients are all priorities and appropriate policies to adopt.
Supply Chain and Operations
It’s time to include suppliers that you would have otherwise never engaged. Secure your supply chain of essential health and safety supplies such as gloves, masks, sanitizer, soaps, disinfectant s well as other cleaning supplies. Similarly, try to identify backup suppliers incase of delays or disruptions.
And like all businesses worth their name, you’ll need to establish an emergency comms plan. Identify key contacts, outline processes for emergency comms and status updates to your stakeholders and employees. Share your response plans clearly and communicate expectations should cases of the pandemic appear in your workplace.
Reopening SMBs: Leave and Wellness Policies
It is of the utmost importance that your employees understand they are expected to stay home from work. Therefore, it’s up to you to create a simple and clear leave policy. Include details pertaining both paid and unpaid leave, employee assistance services and methods to protect themselves both at home and at work.
Likewise, make continual plans incase essential employees or majority of them are unable to work. Planning out scenarios ahead of time makes it easier to shift in between operation plans depending on how many workers you have available. Another piece of action that might be hard to perform is to distribute well-being surveys and find new ways to help your employees’ emotional and mental health. Survey your team ad find out what might help them; flexible work schedules, 1:1 meetings, and non-working virtual hangouts to maintain connections.
Cost Effective Compliance
For SMBs already reeling from the effects of the economic slowdown, instituting additional safety measures might feel a tad cost prohibitive. Fortunately, there are several essential yet cost effective ways to boost workplace safety. These include:
Air Filters – You’ll want ones that push air down instead of up to deal with any latent COVID-19 germs in the air.
Hand Sanitizers – Get dispensers if possible and build them into desks or enclosed translucent plastic partitions. These are more permanent, safer, and cheaper than bottles.
Windows – Open them wide to provide ventilation and free airflow
Outdoor Gathering Spaces – These allow for collaboration without risk of viral transmission
For Companies and organizations used to providing food for its employees, go for individually packaged snacks or boxed meals. These offer a safer alternative to buffet style catering and shared assortments.
Reopening SMBs: Final Word
As you’ve seen above, planning and flexibility are the key for preparations to reopen your business. And for navigating what else is to come after you open your doors. But no matter what, the safety of your customers and employees is paramount and needs to be priority one. Make sure you establish protocols for cleaning, physical distancing, and emergency situations. You’ll find that the more your business is able to adapt to the current health situation and market needs, the better situated you’ll be.
For companies that use CRM, you’ll need some way for your sales teams to access the CRM both at home and on the go. This is where Veloxy comes in. With Veloxy Mobile, your team members can instantly access sales intelligence for any of your accounts, find new contacts to engage with, discover new prospects near them and gather contact information in term of phone numbers and emails. Veloxy also logs all activities performed by your sales teams making tracking and monitoring that much easier. Get Veloxy today and say hello to the future of remote working.