If you’re a parent, you know the dichotomous emotional struggle of leaving your kids to go on vacation.
On one hand, you can hardly wait to be ‘off the clock.’ You need that vacation. On the other hand, however, leaving your kids – try as they might to drive you bananas day in and day out – still somehow proves bittersweet.
And the same was true when you were forced to shutter your business during the early grips of COVID-19.
You, much like nearly every other business owner on earth, are likely eager – to put it mildly – to reopen your business.
Because while much like that vacation – Ooooh, remember vacations? – you probably understood why you needed to close temporarily, pressing pause was hard – emotionally, financially, mentally.
But now, as states slowly grapple with allowing businesses to reopen, you’re faced with yet another challenge: How and when to bring employees back safely, and all without any real historical precedence or firm reopening guidelines from municipalities.
So while the bad news is that no blueprint can be provided for businesses, the good news is that, as a business owner, you are uniquely qualified for this challenge as defying the odds has been the hallmark of every success your business has enjoyed to date.
Let’s take stock in that:
No one is more qualified to rise to this challenge than you.
So as you, once again, brave the uncharted waters of business ownership, here are a few pitfalls to avoid.
If you’re not in health care, you’ve likely never considered the logistical challenges of handling biometric processes and data.
Some obstacles to consider include …
- Keeping that data private once collected
- Compensating employees for time spent waiting
- Keeping employees safe as they wait, given guidelines for distancing
Experts suggest that if you choose to take employee temperatures or if you’re in a state that mandates it, consider enlisting the help of a health care professional to take temperatures – instead of training an unqualified employee.
Sure, you clean your business from time-to-time as necessary but now, in the throes of a pandemic, standards of ‘clean’ are different – and your employees likely expect additional precautionary provisions, including the availability of …
- Disinfecting wipes
- Nitrile gloves
- N95 – or similar – masks
- Hand sanitizer
Additionally, it’s critical to determine how …
- You’ll maintain a consistent supply of provisions
- You intend to keep provisions clean
- You’ll train employees on how to use equipment properly
- You’ll address employees who want to deviate from these policies, such as wearing a bandana instead of a proper mask
It’s safe to assume that some form of social distancing will remain for the foreseeable future. You may need to factor that …
- The number of people allowed in your business may be limited
- The way you have your business offices physically set up may need to change, such as cubicles and break rooms
- Customer-facing areas – like reception, for example – may also need to change
- Consider posting signage outside of your building advising visitors not to enter if they've had COVID-19 symptoms recently or been in contact with someone who has been infected
- Consider implementing a policy that customers or visitors call the receptionist before walking in
- Making communal restrooms into one-person bathrooms may be necessary
- Making halls one-way traffic only to prevent the temptation of impromptu face-to-face exchanges
4. Distributed Teams
It’s important to recognize that while things may return to whatever ‘normal’ is for you and your business, the personal circumstances of your employees may still require some flexibility, even if only temporarily.
So before reopening, put some thought and planning around how you'll handle operations if many people still want to work from home and the processes you can put in place to ensure you treat each instance with equity.
Give yourself – and your business – grace. What your customers may want from you today may look different than what they wanted from you pre-pandemic – and that’s OK.
The answer? Be like a ball, USA TODAY suggests. Go where the new momentum takes you.
That product isn’t selling anymore? Try another. Your tried-and-true marketing strategy has stalled? Drop it. That great webpage isn’t getting any page-views? Onward.
You didn’t go into business because it would be easy. As a business owner, you had the grit, fortitude and determination to take a passion and turn it into your purpose – and with some planning and preparation, no pandemic can change that.
For more on how to lead – pandemic or no pandemic – for continued success, check out BELAY CEO Tricia Sciortino’s take on leadership on LinkedIn.