Preparing for Business Reopening
There will be a New Normal
When physical distancing directives are lifted people’s fears about the virus and germs, in general, won’t disappear. A new, higher standard of hygiene will be expected by many people from all walks of life.
As part of their reopening strategy, business owners and their key staff should be thinking through the changes that the Provincial Health Officer and Worksafe will be expecting them to make, physical distancing directives won’t be lifted all at once.
Start preparing now. There will be a distinct competitive advantage available for those companies who are prepared and ready to go when the health orders start to be rolled back. In many cases, the government wage subsidy will help to offset this. It’s just good business to be thinking about this now.
As with other sectors, industry associations in British Columbia will be expected to develop safe operations plans, for review, that are in keeping with Public Health and Safety Guidelines, as well as WorkSafeBC.
Resources to assist businesses and sectors as they restart their activities including new BC Health Guidelines and Checklists are available from WorkSafeBC.
Know the Risks
to your employees, to your customers,
and to the community in general
Identify every possible step of the interactions between your customers and your business — consider human interactions and the surfaces involved. Take inventory of items that might be shared, touch-screens, visitor sign-in books, door handles, retail store counters, and washrooms.
How many customers should be allowed inside at a single time?
Are hand wash and hand sanitization stations available?
Is there a way for them to pay online or to strongly encourage credit/debit tap transactions instead of using cash?
Identify every possible type of interaction between your employees — consider personal interactions and the surfaces involved. Take inventory of items that might be shared, such as coffee machines, file cabinets, copiers, remote controls, pens, door handles, lunchrooms, and washrooms.
Perhaps the staff can be divided into teams and work at different times?
Can full team meetings be shifted to virtual meetings online?
How many employees should continue to work via some type of a remote work program?
Identify every possible step of the interactions between your suppliers and your employees — consider personal interactions and the surfaces/packages involved.
Now it’s time to develop an action plan to address the risks. Get your team involved.
When you’ve got the risks identified, start the process of creating procedures to address them. The policies to ensure compliance with your new hygiene standard operating procedures are also vital.
If contact with a surface is necessary, you need to determine how the surface can be properly cleaned. The associated policies could be something like: every hour on the hour the showroom will be cleaned without fail.
Make the necessary physical changes to the business facilities and the work environment. For example, one of our clients expanded a lunchroom to accommodate the six-foot rule. Another client built plexiglass barriers.
Effective Communication is a MUST
The new standards of behaviour and cleaning schedules must be communicated in plain language. The employees should sign off on a version written for them.
The customers’ version should be posted on the door as well as distributed via other channels such as mail, email, social media, website, ect.
Suppliers should be notified of relevant changes in your operation via email at a minimum. In some situations, it may be necessary to institute vendor hygiene agreements to ensure that problems on their end don’t wind up becoming become yours to deal with.
Identify misconceptions and rumours that have the potential to be circulated
These perceived risks may or may not be valid, but addressing them before they go viral can help you stay ahead of the situation.
There have been many quick draw shamers during the ‘Flatten the Curve’ campaign. They’re quick to criticize on social media with only a loose grip of the facts. Don’t expect them to completely disappear anytime soon.
Be ready to explain the process you used to get the business re-opened and refer to directives from the appropriate Health Officer.
You might want to reengage with your customer base at this time as well. Particulary, if the person calling you out is not a customer.
Thinking through this in advance makes it much easier to respond with the appropriate tone if it happens to you.
Please Note: This information is for educational purposes only. It is impossible to include all situations, circumstances and exceptions in an article such as this. No individual or organization involved in either the preparation or distribution of this article accepts any contractual, tortious, or any other form of liability for its contents.