Many businesses have been forced to close their premises or change the way they operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. But with restrictions being gradually lifted, read our advice for life after lockdown and reopening a business.
Here are our top 3 tips on how to prepare your business premises to re-open.
1. Design for social distancing
With the expectancy that social distancing measures will remain in place, retail businesses and stores need to consider options on limiting the number of customers in their premises by:
- Introducing appointment slots
- Increasing the space between customers
- Painting or sticking markers on the floor to manage potential queues, and use outside premises where available and safe
- Use a one-way system in public areas
- Install glass screens between customers and employees at tills
- Encourage customers to shop alone where possible
- Inform customers of guidelines through signage and/or vocal reminders
You could offer to sell face masks and coverings so that that those caught unaware could purchase different forms of protection. This could be an additional revenue stream as well as protect both your staff and customers.
You might also want to consider changing working hours for your employees. If fewer people are allowed on the premises at one time, this could lead to the need for additional opening hours to accommodate the demand.
We’ve seen supermarkets opening an hour earlier for key workers to help support with demand. For office workers, changing work hours could offer more flexibility to accommodate staff availability around childcare or sickness.
Change in office working
Businesses that have moved their services online should continue to promote and encourage this as an alternative to minimise physical contact. In an office environment, look to discourage face to face meetings wherever possible and continue to utilise virtual calls. You should consider using floor tape to mark areas to keep office workers 2m apart. If it isn’t possible to move work stations apart, install screens to separate workers.
2. Cleaning & hygiene practices
Businesses will play a big role in helping prevent the spread or second wave of the virus as lockdown eases. You should consider developing cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures to keep customers and employers safe. Here’s how:
- Increasing the frequency of cleaning of all work and public spaces paying close attention to high touch areas such as handrails and door handles
- Providing hand sanitiser and disposable tissues around the office or across shop floors
- Sanitising equipment between customers such as tills, card machines
- Encourage staff to bring their own mug, cutlery and plates
- Avoid hotdesking and sharing equipment, where this is not possible, clean workstations between different occupants.
Additionally, businesses should look to reduce touchpoints by encouraging hands-free transactions through contactless payment wherever possible.
Consider replacing touchscreens, such as those used for people checking in for appointments, with paper processes. If this is unavoidable, touchscreens should be sanitised between use and customers should have access to hand sanitiser before using. Another alternative is to provide disposable gloves for customers to use.
3. Communication plan to reopen
When reopening a business, it’s important to communicate with your employees, customers, and suppliers to prepare them for the change.
Talk to your employees & gain feedback
For employees that have been furloughed or working from home, they may be desperate to get back to work, or may be understandably anxious about returning. To help reassure employees, acknowledge the challenges ahead and encourage an open culture for communicating about their concerns.
This may help identify areas that you might have missed, and open communication can support employees with their mental health. You should highlight the steps and procedures put into place to help them work safely whilst social distancing.
Share new ways of working with customers
Communicating with your customers is also very important. Let your customers know you are re-opening, mentioning any changes to opening times and working practises. Be clear on the hygiene and cleaning measures you have put in place to show how you’re keeping them safe and so they know what to expect.
In order to communicate these changes, make use of all your digital channels, such as social media, website, email newsletters, as well as on-site signage.
Work with suppliers
With suppliers, let them know you’re reopening a business and discuss whether they’re available to supply. Explain the measures and procedures you have introduced around deliveries to keep everyone safe and ask them to share the measures they’re using.
Government advice on reopening a business
With the situation ever evolving, it is important to monitor the government advice and follow their guidance on working safely during coronavirus as you start planning for life after lockdown. Remember to put up posters to say your business is COVID-19 Secure.
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