The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on most businesses. Preparing to open in a post-pandemic environment also comes with a host of uncertainties for companies. As the government and health officials start considering the controls and safety mechanisms required for re-opening the economy, there are practical solutions business owners can deploy to ensure their staff can work safely from any environment.
The guidance from health experts remains consistent. Social distancing, disinfecting the workplace, and reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential before businesses can re-open and provide their services to the public. While these controls remain vital for re-opening a business after a pandemic, companies may have to go beyond what the government requires.
How to Re-open Your Business after a Pandemic
It seems that no one is immune to the effects of the coronavirus. The COVID-19 pandemic required businesses to halt operations around the world, instead focus on the health and wellbeing of their employees and customers. To reduce the spread of the virus in human populations, lockdown and stay-at-home orders created many new challenges for today’s companies.
At the same time, some organizations were capable of continuing operations after already having invested in productivity solutions before the start of the pandemic. Ensuring continued operations in business after a pandemic will require the organization to establish a plan and enforce the necessary controls as required by the health officials. Below are four primary considerations for how to re-open a business after the COVID-19 (or any other) pandemic.
1. Implement a Cleaning and Disinfecting Regime that Provides Confidence
For both customers and employees, it’s better to demonstrate a commitment to safety before opening the organization. Policies will need to follow the latest health guidelines, but companies should also broadcast compliance with the most stringent safety controls. In the same way, as the public needed reassurance that air travel was safe after 9/11, companies need to inform their customers about the efforts they are taking to reduce the spread of the virus.
Companies can use the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to clean and disinfect surfaces. According to the CDC, companies need to:
● Clean all communal surfaces – Any area in the workplace regularly touched by different people will need frequent cleaning with soap and water.
● Disinfect after cleaning – Once the company cleans a surface, also apply an EPA-registered disinfectant to ensure the virus doesn’t spread.
● Consider soft-surfaces – For soft-surfaces like couches and carpets, the company should use appropriate cleaning materials or launder covers wherever possible.
● Use gloves when possible – When cleaning any office equipment or furniture, staff should use disposable gloves.
● Extend cleaning and disinfecting practices to devices – Tablets, touchscreens, keyboards, and any other control or input devices require cleaning and disinfecting. The company can consider using wipeable covers for devices and should follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning equipment.
2. Develop a Return to Work Plan
No matter how well the company cleans and disinfects surfaces, they must limit exposure to their employees and customers as much as possible. Having a staged plan for staff to return (with the additional protections in place) to the workplace is the best option available to companies. For staff that can operate while working from home, these policies should remain in place until it’s safe. Organizations should ensure they take all precautions and reduce the likelihood of infecting staff just because they have to return to the office.
3. Update Work Processes for Reduced Exposure
Take time to review all work processes and find ways to reduce employee and customer exposure. The company may need to change work practices or increase distances between employee workstations. Making sure that everyone follows the new protocols will be just as important, so let employees and customers know that new changes to operating procedures are for their protection.
4. Have a Contingency Plan in Place
While planning for a return to the office, it’s important to prepare for the reinstatement of existing controls. During any pandemic, the situation can change in an instant, and companies should be capable of dealing with new guidelines coming into effect. The company should have an emergency pandemic response procedure in place before returning to work fulltime. To improve remote work processes, the company may want to consider Managed IT Services as a long-term and cost-effective solution.
Ensure You Remain Productive During the Pandemic and After Your Business Opens
To improve business continuity and resilience, partnering with a managed services company like Blue Technologies can help. With a host of services that can streamline workflows and improve business productivity, Blue Technologies can assist any organization in preparing for re-opening the business and implement any contingencies if there’s a second wave of the COVID-19 virus. We will work with your organization to find an optimized strategy for now and into the future.
For help with improving your workflows and assistance with re-opening your business after a pandemic in the future, get in touch with Blue Technologies today.