If your business has recently gotten the go-ahead to open back up after several months of lockdown, you and some of your employees may be tempted to dive headfirst back to the way things were. Unfortunately, safely reopening in the midst of a pandemic is not so simple, and throwing caution to the wind may lead to future setbacks. This is why it’s crucial to come up with an office reopening strategy that follows COVID-19-related regulations, addresses the concerns of workers and customers, and maintains the ongoing health and safety of everyone inside.
Here’s our advice for crafting a safe and effective office reopening strategy.
The rules for reopening differ from one region to the next and also depend on the industry in which you operate. Additionally, these laws and guidelines are constantly changing in reaction to new information and cases of COVID-19. Failing to adhere to these various rules may result in legal penalties, damage your reputation, and/or put your workers, customers, and visitors at risk. For these reasons, your reopening strategy must fall in line with the specific instructions laid out by the state and your community.
While you can’t base every business decision on the whims of your employees, it’s important to take their opinions and concerns into account before reopening. After all, your business cannot operate successfully without full workforce participation. The truth is that some employees still won’t feel comfortable returning to the office, and even those that are eager to come back might need to make various arrangements before they’re able to do so. Knowing this, take the time to talk to all of your workers and send out surveys to get a pulse on overall sentiment towards reopening.
Even if no one has been in the office for several months, it’s a good idea to perform a coronavirus deep clean prior to letting people back in. Here at The Budd Group, we offer standard cleaning and disinfection methods, electrostatic disinfection services, antimicrobial barrier technology, and more. We use different techniques and technology depending on the facility and surfaces in question. In addition to cleaning and disinfecting your workplace before reopening, you should also take the time to rearrange your office layout to promote social distancing (i.e. setting desks at least 6 ft. apart, marking floors to direct traffic, etc.).
Sometimes it’s healthy to “rip the bandage off,” so to speak. However, when it comes to reopening in the middle of a pandemic, slow and steady wins the race (and it’s a lot safer, too). Some states already have mandates that require businesses to operate at partial capacity for time-being, but even if your business has the green light to let everyone back in, consider opening up piece by piece instead.
You might start by allowing a limited number of employees back in at a given time and continuing remote work protocols for everyone else (if possible). If your office serves customers, you might only allow one of them inside at a time, or offer some of your services but not all. Of course, not every business will have the means to reopen a bit at a time -- in these situations, it’s especially important to enforce workers and customers to wear masks and stay at least six feet apart from one another when possible.
When it comes to reopening, the more your employees know about the current situation, the better. This, of course, requires you to have ample knowledge and/or access to expert resources to relay this important information. Taking the time to educate your people prior to returning to work will help unify your workplace around common goals and illustrate the importance of health and safety compliance. Everyone must be on board with these guidelines or the whole project will fall apart, so be firm and frequent in this training.
Finally, your reopening strategy must account not only for the short-term, but also the long-term. As frustrating as the current situation is, there is no end in sight as of yet -- cases are in decline in some states and vaccines are in development, but COVID-19 is here to stay in some form for the foreseeable future. As time goes on, you and your people may start to loosen up in the office, neglecting to wear masks or stay six feet apart, etc. Be careful of these shortcuts, as they can lead to an outbreak in your office which will in turn halt your operations once more. Keep everyone on the same page by posting reminders in visible areas regarding proper etiquette, hygiene, and precautions; conduct regular meetings to go over the latest news surrounding COVID-19 at large and in your community; and, if possible, hire reliable disinfection services to routinely keep your facility clear of harmful microorganisms.
It’s great news that so many businesses and individuals can get back to work -- just remember that the pandemic is ongoing, and everyone must do their part to keep one another safe. Let The Budd Group be a part of your reopening strategy.
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