As of May 8, 2020, twenty-six states have loosened restrictions to allow some businesses to begin operating again; furthermore, many of the states that are still under lockdown are making plans to reopen their economies. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic still poses a danger and business owners will need to take measures to protect their staff members, partners, suppliers, and clients from sickness.
Nick Hess who owns an IT services company in Portland, OR, and who is planning to reopen his business shares some of the types he’ll be following in both his Oregon and Ohio offices.
Decide What "Re-opening" Means for You
Reopening your business should not automatically mean bringing all your employees back to work regular shifts. Allowing staff members to work from home whenever possible not only helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 but also makes life easy for parents whose children may still be at home. In addition, it helps your business save money, time, and hassle that would have been spent on adapting the office to allow for social distancing.
Don't wait until your state's economy is fully reopened to begin planning the reopening process for your business. Planning ahead of time can help you get your business up and running faster than would have otherwise been possible. Start communicating with your employees, suppliers, business partners, customers, and potential customers now to let them know what to expect from your reopened operations. Your employees need to know about work from home options, staggered shift hours, and any changes in a job description or job responsibilities. Employees and customers alike need to know your new business hours and rules concerning the use of masks.
Use Technology to Minimize Personal Contact
The right IT hardware and software can help you avoid personal contact as much as possible. VoIP business phones, for example, allow you to make phone calls and video calls with ease so people don't always have to visit your office for an appointment. FindTime and Doodle help groups of people share their personal schedules and set up meetings via the internet. Appointment scheduling apps such as Acuity Scheduling and Appointlet allow customers to schedule appointments at your business with just a few clicks of a mouse.
Pay Attention to Small Changes and Improvements
There are lots of small things a business can do to protect its employees and customers from the novel coronavirus. Hand-gel bottles should be plentiful throughout the office or business premises. Motion-sensor garbage cans help people dispose of waste without coming into contact with germs. Large corporate offices may want to consider buying each employee a hands-free door opener so germs aren't spread by everyone touching the door handles. Clorox wipes help employees keep their desks virus-free without damaging IT equipment.
Plan for the Future
Every single business owner should have a long-term plan that includes the possibility of the economy shutting down again if the pandemic gets out of control. As part of this plan, a wise business will invest in the Information technology needed to make working from home easier, faster, and more secure than before. Furthermore, a company should look for ways to use Information technology to serve clients faster and more efficiently than before.
It won't be easy to reboot your business once the lockdown ends. Companies and customers alike will need to adjust to the "new normal" and the odds are that some mistakes will be made as you learn how to best serve your employees and customers. Even so, following the pointers above can save you huge problems or even the eventual permanent shutdown of your business. Plan in advance, communicate clearly with everyone you work with and invest in products that minimize social contact to help your employees work safely while providing a high standard of service to your current and future customers.