As states continue to lift COVID-19 restrictions, many business owners are considering reopening their businesses so that they can finally get back to their income-generating ways. The past five months have been brutal for most businesses, leading to massive losses that some may never recover from. As a result, many are rushing to reopen without even considering the implications of doing so. However, just because you’re allowed to reopen doesn’t mean that you should, especially if you are in a state like Florida or Texas that is experiencing a spike in cases. Before you start summoning employees to get back to work, these are some of the key questions you must first answer.
Have you met federal, state, and local laws?
The COVID-19 situation is different in every state. States like New York and Connecticut have managed to get the virus under control while states like Florida and Texas are breaking their records of new daily cases every day. As a result, different states have their own conditions for reopening, and it is important to check your state’s latest guidance and regulations to ensure that you comply with all of them. You can check on reliable sources such as your state’s official website and verified social media accounts as well as the US Chamber of Commerce Business Reopening Guidance. You can also check industry guidelines from the CDC and the American Industrial Hygiene Association to know whether there are any special health considerations you need to make depending on your specific type of business.
Have you established comprehensive health and safety measures?
Even if you adhere to all public health guidelines, there could still be some gaps that you need to fill to ensure that your defense against the disease is airtight. For instance, while state guidelines may indicate that you need to clean your workplace more regularly and thoroughly, they don’t specify how you should do it. If you are not confident that you can properly clean your office, consider going the extra mile and hiring a professional COVID-19 cleaner with the tools and expertise required for effective decontamination. Similarly, you can limit the number of visitors coming in or even stop allowing them entirely to minimize the chances of someone bringing the virus into your workplace; consider holding virtual meetings when possible even if public health guidelines do not prevent you from having in-person visits. Such measures not only boost safety in your workplace but can also save you from expensive liability claims should an employee or visitor contract the virus on your premises.
How will you deal with employee fears?
Many employees are hesitant to go back to work, whether for fear of their personal health or that of their loved ones back at home. As such, one of your top priorities has to be developing a plan to mitigate any fears and concerns that your employees have so that they feel emotionally secure about going back to work. Talk with each employee to understand their concerns and manage them with kindness and fairness. You can make accommodations for employees that face a higher risk of severe illness such as remote working options or giving them duties that minimize their contact with other people.
As you attempt to reopen your business, you must make strategic and comprehensive plans to ensure that your workplace is safe and ready for operations. But, since the COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly, be ready to adapt quickly to meet new challenges as they arise.