Educate Your Team
There are a number of considerations and requirements you need to implement when Reopening Your Business After the COVID-19 Shutdown. First and foremost you need to educate yourself, your management team, and employees of current Federal, State, County, and potentially City, as well as industry-specific guidelines that need to be met before you’re ready to reopen.
We recommend you get started with the CDC guidelines on reopening, and sign up for updates or check back frequently as guidance has, and may change in the future. Next, review your State and Industry-specific guidelines. After this look up your local Office of Emergency Management and local Department of Health for their requirements.
One important thing to know about the guidelines is that they will work from the bottom up. Meaning that, if you find guidance that is more strict or locked-down at your local level, you will need to follow your local guidance for reopening.
A great resource for Industry-Specific guidance is Back to Work Safely. However, look to other sites within your industry and local associations as well.
If you have multiple locations, you’ll have to check the local requirements for each location. Don’t assume they all have the same guidance. As one example for a client we worked with, one county required the business to utilize their county-specific documents to be placed at entrances where other counties suggest making your own signage. Always check.
We also recommend creating an internal Task-Force responsible for overseeing your COVID-19 response if you have enough employees to do so. Have them set up a daily meeting and block off their calendars for this time.
Finally, decide how you will educate employees, clients, and vendors on the changes you’re implementing.
Adjust Your Business
If your business was one of the lucky few to remain open, consider how you will make adjustments to continue operating the way you currently operating or if you should completely change to another new way of providing for your customers. For instance, did you implement a curbside pickup only? Did you incorporate new products or services? Do you continue with web-based or telephone appointments? Continue working remotely? We recommend taking a customer poll and see how they feel.
If you are just reopening, there are many more things to consider. Will you reopen all at once or in stages? Do you need to adjust your operating hours? How will you limit customers? How will you space employees? Will you require masks and/or gloves?
Consider how and who will clean and how will you provide time for cleaning. Do you hire a service? Have employees do the cleaning or both?
Do you have enough supplies and equipment to reopen? Can your vendors support your needs? Are your vendors only able to provide limited service? Do you have additional vendors in place?
How much of your staff will you need to reopen? All of them or reduced staffing? Do you have different staffing levels and requirements for each stage? Do you allow employees currently working remotely to continue working remotely? If you do, for how long?
Review and understand COVID-19 related employment laws and how they will impact your business and staff. For example, if an employee gets sick will you continue to pay the employee while recovering and under quarantine? When do you allow someone who is sick to return to work? Someone who tests positive for COVID-19 is protected under ADA laws.
What about employees that have not been sick but are high-risk or at-risk. What about employees that have at-risk people living with them? What about child care? Reach out to your employees to discuss their needs and your plans. Who will need special accommodations?
cleaning the worksite
Create a policy and procedures for cleaning and disinfecting workspaces, especially high-touch points and surfaces, shared tools, and items. Educate your employees on cleaning their own space and shared items.
Provide soap, tissue, paper towels, trash cans, and hand sanitizer throughout the worksite. Allow employees more time to take hand-washing breaks and other additional break time. Educate employees to wash hands for at least 20 seconds. Make sure you are utilizing EPA approved disinfectants at your worksite.
If you will be using a cleaning or disinfecting service decide before you open the following:
- How often will they be cleaning your worksite? Continuously? Twice per day?
- When and how will you do deep cleaning and disinfecting? When someone tests positive? Everyday?
- How much does the cleaning disrupt your business? Can you stagger shifts? Clean before or after hours?
- What disinfectants will you use?
- Do you need to shut down before deep cleaning?
- Can employees be in the building during a deep cleaning?
- Do you source multiple vendors to do the cleaning?
Place signage at all entrances and throughout the worksite about workplace Social Distancing requirements, Sanitizing requirements (such as before entering the site), COVID-19 symptoms, hand-washing hygiene, and coughing hygiene.
Will you provide masks or face-covering and/or gloves or have employees bring their own? What if an employee forgets their mask or gloves?
Secure multiple sources for a regular supply of cleaners, disinfectants, and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
Implement social distancing policies at the worksite to keep employees and customers at least 6 feet apart. In the office install acrylic barriers and utilize cubicle walls to limit contact. Move seating to keep employees at least 6 feet apart.
Do away with shared workspaces where possible. If they can’t be eliminated, provide disinfecting wipes, hand-sanitizer at each shared workspace.
Avoid all in-person meetings, even at the worksite. Use video or teleconferencing technology to facilitate meetings with employees, clients, vendors, and other stakeholders.
Continue or implement remote and work-from-home (WFH) policies. Ensure employees have the right equipment and any equipment they need to work securely from home.
Limit, reduce, or avoid altogether employee travel. This includes having employees traveling to other offices or other internal business sites.
If customers, vendors, or visitors come to your site require PPE. Have them bring their own, or provide them once on site. If possible reduce, limit, or avoid visitors onsite.
Develop a plan and policy on how to deal with customers, visitors, and even employees that refuse to follow your health and safety guidelines.
Consider hiring or increasing security staffing for your worksite.
Educate employees about COVID-19 Symptoms and the need to stay home when sick. Consider new sick leave policies for all employees.
Develop a policy and protocols for employee health screening of all employees coming onto the worksite. You can implement some or all of the following:
- Temperature checks of all employees (and anyone else) when entering the worksite. (Utilize thermal scanners, no-touch or touch thermometers)
- Who checks the employee temperatures? Do they do it themselves?
- Do you track temperatures? (We recommend not documenting any temperature readings or you will have to comply with HIPAA)
- How often will you require temperature checks? (We recommend once daily – the first time someone is entering the worksite).
- What is the actual procedure you will have if/when someone has a temperature (100.4°F or above).
- Have that procedure written and inform all employees of the procedure.
- When can that person return to work?
- What if someone refuses a temperature check?
- What if someone begins to feel ill while at work?
- How do you inform employees?
- How will you perform contact tracing?
- Who performs contact tracing?
- Who notifies the County Health Department or Emergency Management Office?
- Work with HR and Legal to create policies prior to implementing
- Develop policies if someone calls out sick and when they can return to work?
- What is the policy if someone gets tested for COVID-19?
- When or will you have to shut down for disinfection cleaning?
- Do you have a hot-line for employees to call in?
- Do you need to make COVID-19 adjustments to that call in line?
Any policies you create, be prepared to face situations you did not expect. Have your internal Task Force ready to discuss options, policy changes, and for each instance to be handled uniquely given the situation.
assess your finances
Prior to reopening, assess your current business finances. Create a Cash Flow Forcast with three scenarios, a realistic cash flow model, an optimistic cash flow model, and a pessimistic cash flow model. Adjust each daily/weekly as needed.
Find ways to reduce and cut expenses immediately. Call all your vendors and see if they can temporarily adjust pricing for you. Can you find new or backup vendors at reduced pricing?
Find ways to add new revenue streams. Can you offer a new product or service during this time? Can you partner with someone to increase your market and visibility?
If you haven’t in the past, use Social Media to get your message out. Go live to discuss your product or services.
Estimate new and increase costs for retrofitting your worksite, costs for deep cleaning, ongoing sanitization costs, etc. Document all expenses and actions you are taking during this time for your business.
Stay updated and informed on any and all financial assistance that is available to you and your business.
Contact all the people and businesses you do business with or pay, see if they can adjust their pricing or try to renegotiate your contract even if it is short-term.
Contact your insurance agent about what you are covered for and not covered for in protecting against lawsuits from customers and/or employees after reopening.
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