Too Soon? Considerations for Reopening Your Business

All of us are looking forward to the end of being quarantined at home, and none more than the business owners whose operations have been pinched by having to work virtually. There will come a day when we return to the office, store or plant, and it’s not too soon to think about how that might work.

The paramount concern, of course, is the health and safety of your employees and customers, so due diligence is in order before those doors open again. And obviously, procedures will vary according to business type … office settings are likely to have a very different path back to normal than restaurants, for one example.

That said, there are some things to consider before the day arrives when you can reconvene your team. Here they are:

First and foremost, follow the law. Our return to the workplace will be guided and mandated by state authorities for the most part. These situations have changed on a nearly-daily basis, so make sure you’re abreast of the latest developments.

Understand that a return to work doesn’t necessarily mean a return to what used to be normal. Just as you would assess any other risks to your business, a thorough risk assessment as it relates to infectious disease is in order now. What changes should you make to existing policies to keep your team safe? Can you make improvements to the physical distance between office workers, or between workers and customers?

A thorough risk assessment will cover who, where and what: who is most at risk, where are the physical areas that present the greatest hazard, and what can you do about it?

Who: Consider your older employees or ones at increased health risk, and your general contact with the public.

Where: Identify the spaces in your environment that present a higher risk: break rooms or other areas where people tend to gather, the counters at which you serve customers and so on.

What: This comprises your efforts to mitigate these risks, whether that means personal protective equipment, HEPA filters for your HVAC system or a new layout for the office to keep people further apart.

Chances are that the early stages of returning to work will look a lot like what we’ve been told for the last couple of months: no gatherings of 10 or more people, maintain a 6-foot distance from others, discourage shaking hands and make meetings virtual whenever possible. Now’s the time to start thinking about what your business will look like under those parameters, and to start planning for the changes you’ll need to make.

Questions about risk assessment or planning for a return to work? Contact Consolidated Insurance.