As stay-at-home orders start to lift, shuttered businesses are gearing up to open their doors again. For many, it’s been a long time coming. But as we get back to business, things are going to be a little different … OK, maybe a lot different.
So, how can we open up shop during the coronavirus pandemic?
6 tips for reopening your business
This is a new situation for everyone. Nobody has all the right answers, and there are a number of things businesses should consider as the economy reopens. Here are a few tips that could help you adjust to the new normal as you reopen your business.
1. Pay attention to state guidelines
Maybe you’re up-to-date with federal guidelines relating to the coronavirus, but what’s your state got to say about it?
In addition to individual state tax relief and unemployment measures, each state’s reopening process may look a little different. Most states are repealing stay-at-home orders little by little, with different businesses opening at different stages.
State guidelines may vary when it comes to:
- Reopening dates
- Which businesses can reopen at what dates
- Social distancing requirements
- Maximum capacity per business
- Face mask requirements
- Temperature precautions
- Sanitation and hygiene
- Contactless payment systems
If you’re not sure where to find your state’s COVID-19 guidelines, don’t panic. I know that everyone is watching the news 24/7, so my team put together State-by-state Coronavirus Guidelines. Our article has links to each state’s COVID-19 resource center.
2. Keep COVID-19 legislation in mind
If your business was temporarily shut down during a stay-at-home order, you may have furloughed your employees. And if your employees were furloughed, you may not have paid attention to the coronavirus legislation relating to employee rights.
Well, if you didn’t pay attention before, now you need to. The end of stay-at-home orders doesn’t mean the end of the COVID-19 bills the government passed.
There are a number of actions meant to help small businesses, like employer tax credits and generous loan programs. But the one you really need to keep in mind as your employees come back to work is the temporary paid leave law under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
According to a recent SHRM survey, only 47% of small business owners said they were familiar with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
Whether you regularly offer employees paid leave or not, the FFCRA states you must offer employees additional hours off for qualifying coronavirus-related situations. Under the FFCRA, employers with fewer than 500 employees (with some exceptions for very small businesses) must provide:
- Paid sick leave: 10 days of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate (max $511 per day) if they’re subject to a quarantine or an isolation order due to COVID-19.
- Two-thirds paid sick leave: 10 days of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate (max $200 per day) if they’re caring for someone subject to a quarantine or an isolation order due to COVID-19.
- Paid family leave: 10 weeks of paid family leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate (max $200 per day) if they must care for a child whose school or childcare center has closed due to COVID-19.
There are a lot more nitty-gritty details related to coronavirus paid leave that you should familiarize yourself with. This is just a general overview to give you an idea of your responsibilities.
Keep in mind that the paid leave law is in effect until the end of the year. So even though you’re back in business, you can’t neglect your employees who may continue to deal with the virus and its effects.
3. Clean like you’ve never cleaned before
If you thought your cleaning process was pretty good before the pandemic, you might still need to step it up when you get back to business. In short: clean like your life depended on it, because someone’s just might.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a “Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes” web page and PDF.
According to the CDC, you should be using soap and water, followed by EPA-approved disinfectants (or alternatives), to routinely clean your business. You should consider asking employees to wear masks and putting out hand sanitizer dispensers to make customers a little more comfortable while shopping.
4. Offer what consumers want and need
You’re probably well aware that consumer spending is down. But, there are a number of in-demand products that are flying off the shelves just as quickly as they’re being added to them.
You might consider expanding your business’s offerings to include products or services that consumers want and need to get through this trying time. For example, you could add masks or at-home DIY kits.
5. Get a little creative
As you get back at it, you may encounter some new obstacles you have to overcome. Your customers might be scared to go into your business. Your suppliers might be overwhelmed with orders. Maybe some of your products are unavailable due to supply limitations.
Whatever the situation is, you’re bound to have some hurdles.
To overcome whatever is thrown your way during your business reopening, be willing to get creative. For example, you could diversify your supply chain. Or, you could add a delivery system to appease customers who aren’t ready to go into businesses just yet.
Don’t forget to use some of your most important assets to come up with ideas: your employees. Brainstorm creative workarounds with your team before you need to put them into action. Having a plan in place is oh-so-important when it comes to resiliency.
6. Remember there’s a global pandemic
One of the most important things to remember as you reopen your business is we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. I know you’re eager to get back at it. But if you’ve been able to operate remotely, you may consider staying remote a little while longer. And depending on your state, you may have to.
In short, take it slowly. My Canton, Ohio-based company was one of the first in the area (if not the first) to start working remotely. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to be one of the first going back to the office as the stay-at-home orders lift.
Whether you stay remote, rotate employees so half work remote and half are in the office, or put up protective glass and tape throughout your business, keep safety a priority.
Monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for guidance on keeping your employees, your customers, and yourself safe.
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