Coronavirus Reopening Checklist for Small Businesses

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Do you plan on reopening your business soon? We have some quick tips for ensuring the safety of your employees and customers.

While it’s good news that coronavirus restrictions will be lifted soon, small businesses still face many challenges in the coming months. A global recession now seems inevitable, and it may be a while before economic activity bounces back. One of the crucial hurdles that small businesses will need to address is their coronavirus safety precautions. If COVID-19 precautions are not in place, employees will be reluctant to return to work, and customers will be unwilling to enter the business premises.

As the COVID-19 lockdown is being lifted at a different pace in different countries and regions, it will be essential for all businesses to familiarize themselves with local regulations. Even so, most of the steps that business owners can take to ensure the safety of their customers and employees will be the same everywhere. Here is a reopening checklist to help you prepare your business for reopening when coronavirus restrictions are eased.

1. Keep Track of Local Regulations and Guidance
All business owners and human resources managers are going to need to keep up to date with the latest national and regional COVID-19 regulations. Businesses that fail to comply with coronavirus regulations may incur fines or even be shut down. It is important to remember that the rules in your area may change from one day to the next. If there is a second wave of coronavirus cases in your area, for example, stricter social distancing or stay at home rules may be reintroduce

2. Discourage Equipment Sharing
Wherever possible, you should discourage the sharing of equipment. Before your employees come back to work, make sure that there are sufficient tools and pieces of equipment so that workers do not have to share anything. In an office, for example, this could be achieved by ensuring that everyone has desk space assigned solely to them and that every worker has a dedicated computer and an individual stock of office equipment and supplies.

3. Reorganize the Workspace
Reorganize offices and customer areas so that employees and customers can always stay 6 feet apart.  Maintaining social distances in small, confined spaces might be challenging, but there are steps that you can take to minimize the risk. In narrow corridors, for example, you could implement a one-way system so that people do not have to pass one another in the space. You may also have to enforce limits on the number of people allowed to be in an area at a time.

4. Implement a No-Contact Rule
Make it part of your company culture that there is no physical contact between employees, customers, and visitors to your business premises. A no-contact rule may take time to take effect because things like handshaking are such ingrained habits. The best way to remind people about the no-contact and other coronavirus rules is to put signs up on the walls of your premises.

5. Consider a Face Mask Rule
The wearing of face masks at work may be a legal requirement in your region. Even in areas where there are no regulations about face masks, you may want to consider making the wearing of face coverings a company rule. The effectiveness of face masks as protection against COVID-19 is debatable. Even so, if all your employees do wear face coverings at work, it will make both workers and employees feel safer and more comfortable about returning to your business.

6. Adjust Working Hours
The easiest way to limit the number of people in the workplace is to introduce staggered working hours. Forget the nine-to-five, five-day week, and implement a working schedule that accommodates working from home and flexible shift patterns. Create a plan so that groups of workers work together at varying times. Keep the members of each of the groups constant to limit contact between workers to a small number of individuals. Then, if one member of a group develops COVID-19 symptoms, you can ask that a small portion of your workforce self-isolate rather than having to send everyone back into isolation.

7. Limit Social Gatherings
Striking a balance between safety and worker welfare is going to be tricky when you reopen your business. People are naturally going to want to gather in groups and share their coronavirus experiences. However, limiting social gatherings at work is going to be as crucial as limiting things like meetings. So, you may have to stagger breaks and lunchtimes and restrict the number of people allowed in communal gathering areas like break rooms and restaurants. Once again, signage will help to limit social gatherings.

8. Set Up Sanitization Stations
One piece of advice that has stayed constant during the coronavirus pandemic is the need for people to wash their hands frequently. As a business owner, it will be your responsibility to ensure that customers and visitors have ample opportunity to practice good hand hygiene. Set up hand cleansing stations at the entrance to your business premises and the entrance to each office. Appoint a member of your team on each shift to keep the hand cleansing stations stocked with hand sanitizer. In time, it will become standard practice for people to use hand sanitizer every time they enter a building or office.

9. Implement Shared Equipment Rules
As already mentioned, you should provide employees with individual items of equipment where possible to avoid the need to share. However, with things like copiers and printers, this will not be possible. For the pieces of equipment in the workplace that must be shared, you should implement after-use cleaning rules. To keep a copier virus-free, for example, you could place alcohol sanitizer wipes by the side of the machine and have a practice that the top of the copier must be wiped over after every use.

10. Limit Visitors to Your Business Premises
You will help to keep your employees safe at work if you limit the number of visitors to your business premises. Business meetings with customers and suppliers, for example, should be conducted via video conferencing apps wherever possible. Small deliveries should be left outside rather than brought into the office by the delivery person. If everyone reduces the number of people they have contact with each day, it will reduce the risk of coronavirus being transmitted.

Implementing the above action points will help keep your employees safe and give your customers the confidence to do business with you again. It is important to remember, though, that this checklist is for general guidance only. Companies must comply with local regulations and advice when they reopen after the coronavirus lockdown.

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