Business owners around the nation are rejoicing as states begin to lift the lockdown orders, or at least lay out phased plans to allow people to get back to business. As nations, governments, companies and individuals start to think through how life will be different in a post-pandemic world, one thing is clear: we won’t be going back to “business as usual.”
The devastating effects of COVID-19 around the world has shown the need for change in how we operate. Many company leaders are starting to lay a new foundation to enable their business and teams to stay safe and thrive, and to minimize the risk of the much-discussed second wave of infections.
Here are just a few ways that savvy business owners around the country are thinking through (and taking) precautions as they begin to open their doors for business once again.
Allowing employees to continue working from home
Many startups already allow for flex working situations. But thanks to the lockdowns, many employers who were stuck in the traditional way of “going to work” are starting to reconsider the options. Remote work or coming to the office only a few days a week may help everyone feel safer and cared for, as we all continue to follow social distancing guidelines. If remote work is possible for your workplace, there are plenty of great resources available to increase efficiency and teamwork in a remote environment.
Increased workplace cleanings
For most people, this is already a given by this point. Along with increasing the frequency of official cleanings of common spaces, providing cleaning wipes and gloves for common use can help employees keep their own workspaces sanitized and keep everyone feeling safer throughout the workday. Here are the CDC guidelines for cleaning.
Requiring and/or providing face masks
Even as doors open again for business, employers are maintaining social distancing practices by wearing masks and requiring employees and customers to wear masks. Many are also looking into scanning temperatures at the door to ensure that people who are unwell don’t come into contact with employees or other customers.
Cubicles and walls have been coming down over the last few years in favor of a more open floor plan that fosters creativity. But that trend may be changing as we start to head back to work. Even if employees wear masks at work, they likely won’t be too excited about someone sitting the next chair over from them without some additional protection. For some companies, it may mean putting up plastic sneeze guards/barriers, others may go back to the old cubicles, and others may opt to spread workspaces out to maintain at least 6 feet of space between employees.
Staggering employee work hours
Companies are beginning to stagger employee work hours so that they have “shifts” to be in the office, the warehouse, the restaurant, etc. Allowing only a set number of employees (and customers) in the workplace at a time can help ensure that people continue to maintain physical distance, even in a work environment. Even staggering work arival hours by 15 minutes could help minimize elevator crowdings as people start their day, go to lunch and leave for the day.
Automation and voice activation
While increased cleanings should be second nature by now, minimizing the need to touch common surfaces would certainly be helpful. Some companies are exploring foot pedals or motion sensors to open doors and turn on faucets, and touch-free voice activation systems in elevators.
Whether your business has already been given the green light to open again, or if you’re on the verge of reopening your doors, starting to plan for a healthier future starts right now. Taking critical steps now to mitigate risk and keep your employees and your business healthy is key.