In this blog post, we take a look at what businesses need to do as they reopen after the Covid-19 shutdown and how to assess your readiness to return to the workplace. Many of our clients were unsure what are the best ways to get ready for reopening and what things they should focus on the most, so we will guide you through all the steps to prepare for relaunch of the business safely after Covid-19 closures.
In England, non-essential shops could reopen this week. In Scotland, we are anxiously waiting for the Scottish Parliament’s announcement tomorrow to confirm when and if non-essential shops can reopen. However, what we have had in Scotland is an update to say that hopefully, all being well, some tourism can start back up again in the middle of July. Tourism industry has always had a big impact on Scotland’s economy. That’s then prompted a lot of questions about how do we restart? What do we need to consider? A lot of our clients have come to us to ask how we can help them do that. What we are advising them is that there are some key stages to relaunch a business.
Key stages to reopen your business after Covid-19 closures:
Stage 1: Risk Assessment
- New risks: every business should have a risk assessment in place already. What you need to do now, is go back and revisit all your policies, because there’s now a new risk in the form of COVID-19.
- Staff training related policies: as a business owner, you need to assess how new restrictions are going to impact your business and how your staff can be trained to respond to that. Up until now, you might not have thought twice about delivering food from the kitchen straight to the table of your customers in a restaurant, you might not have thought twice about how you serve a beer at the bar, or serve customers at a till, if they’re buying clothes. It is now especially important to review all the business procedures and determine the risks.
- Safety and cleanliness: you also need to work out how you can implement changes in the most sanitary and safe way. For example, a lot of bars have been putting up Perspex screens with little windows to be able to put your drink through. A lot of restaurants are considering how they can deliver the food from the kitchen to the table of their customers in a safe way.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): some of our clients are providing their staff with PPE, such as face masks and visors. All of the food products are carried out with gloves. In restaurants staff serve food to the table and then bin the gloves they used. Other clients are looking at having food delivered to a central point. Then customers are invited to go and collect their food from that point, so that the staff can step back two meters and provide social distancing that way. So it’s just working out what you can do in the space that you’ve got.
- Frequency of cleaning: the other key area to look at during your risk assessment is frequency of cleaning. Where do your contact points come in? Door handles, fridge handles, anything customers or staff touch regularly are considered touch points and contact points. How often are they cleaned? For example, we’ve got some customers out there that are going to do a wipe down using antibacterial wipes every half an hour. We’ve got customers that are going to start cleaning their floors with antiseptic, antibiotic cleaning products every hour. Please note these regular cleaning activities are all much more frequent than what we would have done beforehand so it is important to make sure your business is ready for the “new normal”.
Stage 2: Adaptation
- Installations: once you’ve done your risk assessments, you then need to make the adaptations that you’ve highlighted you’re going to do in your risk assessments. The next step is to install your PVC screens, queuing systems or floor markings that we see in all the supermarkets warning to “keep two meters apart”.
- Safety markings: if you’ve got a shop where you should have a one way system to help your social distancing, then add some stickers there. There are lots of small graphic design and print companies that have got different types of stickers in-stock and ready. Ordering from them you can support small businesses while doing this yourself.
Stage 3: Training
- Staff training: once you’ve adapted your business premises, you then need to do the staff training. Make sure everyone is aware of the new procedures.
- Customer training: you need to train the staff, but also train your customers. Yes, your staff need to know the new risk assessments, and the new rules and how you’re going to operate, but so do your customers. A lot of companies have started doing that training to their customers through social media. They’re doing virtual tours of the new set up in the business, explaining procedures through video messages and discussing how the business is going to operate moving forward to keep the customer and staff safe. This kind of educating of your customers before you reopen is really important. It helps to create new habits and new routines for both the customers and the staff. If your customers know what to expect, it’s easier for your staff to deliver the new procedures within the premises of your business.
Stage 4: Implementation
- Creating new habits: once you’ve trained your staff and your customers, and you’re ready to open, it’s time to implement all the changes. It is important to remember that all good habits take a while to get into the flow of, but these habits are crucial to reopen a business after Covid-19 shutdown. As a business owner, you and your team need to encourage the members of your team, and your customers to follow these new rules. You also need to highlight to people when they’re not following new procedures, because these rules have been put in place for their own safety.
Stage 5: Regular review of new policies
- Adaptation to your training, cleaning and risk assessment: once you’re open and you’ve implemented these changes, make sure you keep reviewing them. Have the new ways of working impacted and changed some of the touch points and contact points? For example, you’ve got one set of contact points to clean, but the new policies have made another batch of contact points you wouldn’t have thought of originally. It is important to assess whether you need to make an adaptation to your training, your cleaning, and your risk assessment.
- Staying open to new ideas and business development: while reviewing your new policies, there’s another thing that we’ve been encouraging our clients to do. In the last three months, we’ve seen some amazing pivoting from our clients – many businesses have discovered new and efficient ways of working. Business owners, using their really cool entrepreneurial skills, have started implementing new ideas, services and products. It is interesting to see that all those changes are all happening because of COVID-19 and may have never happened before. What we’re saying to our clients is, you know what, why don’t you consider pivoting your business more regularly? We are encouraging our clients to review their business every 3 months: what new policies could be implemented, what new products and what new services could be created to help the business grow? A lot of the companies that have pivoted and developed new services in the last three months, have said they’re going to continue these services going forward. By continuing them and picking up their normal trade, once that comes back, what they’ve actually done is grow their business in the next year.
- Look out for opportunities to grow your business during a crisis: yes, in the last three months, we’ve had quite a financial hard time, a lot of small businesses have sadly gone. However, other businesses that created new services to survive, may have developed a new income level that can start turning this crisis into a positive experience. Always remember to keep pivoting your business, even after the crisis has ended.
To sum up, there are 5 key stages to reopening a business after Covid-19 shut down: risk assessment, adaptation, training, implementation and regular review of your new policies. If you would like to share what helped your business safely reopen after Covid-19, feel free to leave a comment below.