Lots of restaurants and shops opened their doors after the government’s latest roadmap milestone on the 12th April, and many more are planning an exciting comeback. After so long away, the thought of starting to prepare your business for life after lockdown is fairly daunting. So, we’ve created a 12-step checklist to help you manage the transition.
Whether or not you reopened for business in the gap between lockdowns last summer, getting ready to welcome customers back again in spring 2021 brings a new set of challenges. Understandably, many business owners feel overwhelmed at the prospect of ramping up their operations while adhering to employee and customer safety regulations.
Here are 12 top tips for reopening a business after lockdown; work through this checklist to make sure your big day goes without a hitch.
How to safely reopen your business after lockdown
1. Get the facts
As rules change and guidance evolves, it’s important to stay on top of the government’s advice. You can find accurate, up-to-date information for businesses at reputable sites like Gov.uk and Hse.gov.uk.
2. Check your premises for signs of damage
If you operate from a physical site and haven’t been in business for a while, take some time to examine your furniture, equipment and furnishings. Your site may have attracted pests while you were away, so look out for signs of gnawing, stains, pawprints and animal droppings or urine smells. You should also check for insect bodies, larvae, egg casings and feathers.
If you think pests have found their way into your premises, you’ll need to call a specialist removal service before you let anyone else onto the property.
3. Check use-by dates
If you sell food or use products with a limited lifespan, you must check expiration dates before you get back to business. With such a busy schedule, it’s easy to forget to go through your old stock, but it’s vital you don’t just pick up where you left off. Unfortunately, you may need to dispose of certain items.
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4. Clean everything
Even if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, it would be a good idea to clean everything after so long away. Thoroughly sanitise your furniture and equipment, flush water through the taps, run dishwashers on a hot cycle and wash any furnishings, bathroom towels and table linens.
Also, depending on the type of equipment you use in your business, you may want to get it checked by a maintenance professional.
5. Create an employee safety handbook
Putting on-site safety measures in place is one of the most important jobs you’ll do as you prepare your business for reopening. Here’s a quick run-down of the key tasks involved in the process:
- Installing physical screens and barriers
- Reconfiguring the workplace layout to increase space between desks, tables and chairs
- Closing communal areas and cancelling face-to-face meetings
- Installing sanitising stations with free antibacterial gel and sprays
- Putting up signs in toilets to encourage staff and customers to wash their hands thoroughly
- Increasing ventilation
- Staggering employees’ shifts and breaks
- Introducing a regular cleaning schedule
- Introducing specific rules on hygiene and PPE usage for staff and customers
- Stocking up on cleaning and PPE supplies
6. Prepare to monitor your employees’ health
Although it might seem intrusive, the health of individual staff members is now everyone’s business. Allowing Covid-19 to spread through your workforce could have a devastating impact not only on your business operations, but also on the lives of your employees and their families.
Create a plan to detect the virus and make sure employees isolate if they contract it.
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7. Consider staff preferences
The pandemic has affected people in a vast number of different ways, and some of your employees may be experiencing challenges and feelings you haven’t even considered. Although you’re the boss at your company, let your staff lead the way as you prepare your business for reopening.
You must be able to find and understand their needs, whether it’s through a survey, direct email conversations or ongoing virtual meetings.
8. Get creative
It could be useful to look at other companies for inspiration when it comes to reopening your business after lockdown. But these are unprecedented times, so it’s a good idea to brainstorm and come up with new ways to tackle challenges and approach opportunities. The brands best able to satisfy consumer demand will survive, while others fall.
Demonstrate purpose. If consumer goods and retail companies cannot articulate why they are in business and how they contribute to the overall community, they will not have the legitimacy to exist as a business. - KPMG
9. Make sure the new practices don’t affect your quality of service
Making lots of drastic alterations to the way you work could impact your products and services without you realising. In fact, even a seemingly insignificant change could have a knock-on effect. For example, does the way you use and store disinfectant products have a potential risk for food safety?
10. Boost your cybersecurity
Many people have fallen victim to coronavirus-related scams over the past year, as criminals have jumped at the chance to cash in on the global crisis. As you prepare your business for the months ahead, don’t forget to check your security provisions.
Use Virtual Private Networks (VPN) if employees are working remotely and consider asking them to avoid using personal devices for professional purposes. You should also update passwords and limit access to important files.
11. Run training workshops
Adhering to all the new rules and regulations could be overwhelming for employees, particularly if you’ve only just hired them. So, help them adjust to the new way of working by running training workshops covering the specific practices you’ve adopted.
12. Be transparent
Returning to offices and workplaces will be a big deal for many employees, and lots of people feel anxious about the transition. Be open and clear with your staff, giving them plenty of notice and allowing for flexibility to accommodate their requests and preferences.
Also, use multiple platforms to keep customers and clients updated. You could write emails, website FAQ pages and social media posts, but try to avoid bombarding people with messages.
More tips for business reopening processes
You’ll find much more guidance in our dedicated Covid-19 business articles, right here at Point Franchise. Just use the search box to find information on a specific topic.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©