Cities, states and countries are at various stages with their reopening efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll need to investigate what procedures to follow while welcoming customers back. Ironing out your processes now protects consumers and staff members alike.
Following new procedures carefully demonstrates that you’re eager to reopen again but won’t do it at the expense of people’s health. Here are seven to consider.
1. Teach Employees New Cleaning Procedures
Scientists know that people can become infected with the novel coronavirus if they touch a contaminated surface and then bring that hand to their eyes, nose or mouth. Assuring everyone that you have made your cleaning procedures more robust will help them feel more at ease.
U.S. health authorities advise that the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting changes with use levels. You would likely sanitize your company’s phone receiver more often than the door to a stockroom that people only access once per day.
Whether your cleaning procedures involve using new solutions, different techniques or both, give your employees plenty of training. Post signs that inform customers about your new approach, too. Learning about your proactiveness will provide them with peace of mind.
2. Develop an Illness Screening and Management Plan
Some companies started doing temperature checks or asking employees to use an app to confirm they don’t have COVID-19 symptoms before coming to work. It’s up to you to decide whether similar screening procedures would help your business operate safely.
It’s also crucial to plan what to do if a person comes to work and starts feeling sick during a shift. Dealing with the matter quickly is an ideal way to keep the incident isolated. Details are still getting ironed out regarding if employers can require employees to get coronavirus tests. Checking them for symptoms is allowed as long as you take the proper precautions to protect the data.
Develop a system for verifying which employees are clocked in at any given time. If a worker feels sick and tests positive for COVID-19 later, you can rely on your data to determine which of your team members were in close contact with the ill person and need to self-isolate.
3. Assess Your IT Needs
You may have examined your IT systems at the start of the year to ensure they were ready for business traffic. It’s smart to do that again as you prepare to reopen. Could your IT infrastructure support new strategies to keep people safe?
Researchers expect more than 7.5 billion people to use a mobile device in 2020. Perhaps you could set up a system where shoppers can pay for items through your website or an app, then have them come in to pick them up later. That approach limits the exchange of cash and the time people spend face to face.
Checking your IT capabilities also extends to payment security. You may already accept traditional credit card payments, but what about letting people use a contactless system? That option became more popular before the pandemic but is especially relevant now.
4. Coach Employees on How to Remind People of Social Distancing Protocols
The idea of social distancing hadn’t crossed most people’s minds in late 2019. Now, it’s something brought up regularly in the media and is a frequent topic of casual discussion.
When business owners get guidance on reopening, the resources often say they must ensure people practice social distancing. That may mean you need to limit the number of customers in your store and ensure they stay far enough apart once inside. Remaining at a safe distance doesn’t come naturally for many people since it’s new to them and often feels strange.
Talk to your employees about how they could gently remind people about the new rules. They might say, “Sorry, would you mind standing on that floor marker while waiting to check out? That’ll keep everyone safer.” News reports indicate that some shoppers get upset about the reminders. Then, workers may experience most of the anger. You may want to establish a procedure where an employee tries to politely enforce the rules once and gets a manager if needed after that.
5. Equip Workers With the Proper Safety Gear
Many state leaders introduced requirements for people to wear masks when going inside businesses or during times when social distancing may be difficult, such as on public transit. One thoughtful thing you could do is provide workers with branded masks they can wear at work. Some polyester options offer full-color printing that goes all the way to the edge of the face covering.
Determine what other equipment or supplies your employees may need, too. Other possibilities include gloves, hand sanitizer or face shields. If employees see you’re willing and able to give them the gear they need to stay safe, customers will notice it, too. Scientists warn that COVID-19 can spread easily. Anything you can do to curb transmission could make people feel more relaxed and ready to do business with you again.
6. Emphasize the Community Safety Aspect
Publish details of your new procedures online, at your store’s entrance and in other prominent places. Then, people will have a better idea of what to expect and won’t feel surprised when they show up.
Store owners, employees and shoppers must all adjust to a new normal. People may start their sentences with, “Well, I don’t believe that …” when you try and convince them to do the right thing based on what health officials recommend. If you instead shift your approach to saying how your new procedures are there to keep community members safe, people may be more likely to comply by feeling they are contributing to the collective good.
Follow official health guidance about things like cleaning procedures, mask-wearing and social distancing. When you give your reasons, though, word them in a way that makes people want to get on board to help their neighbors.
7. Remain Sensitive to Employees’ Concerns
Some of your workers may need specific support before they can return to work. Perhaps the pandemic put a strain on their mental health or required them to find a baby-sitter due to a child’s day care remaining closed. Take the time to listen to anything that may make it challenging for your team members to make their shifts, and do what you can to help.
Your new processes may need some adjustments. Pay attention to comments that workers make about still feeling unsafe.
Introducing staggered shifts could be an option if a store feels too crowded when fully staffed. You may also hire someone to deep-clean your shop each evening for everyone’s benefit if workers bring up that the cleaning they do seems insufficient.
A Work in Process
It’s OK if you don’t know all the right things to do for a safe reopening. Follow official advice from health experts and learn as you go. These tips will get you off to a strong start.
Lexie is a graphic designer and UX strategist. She enjoys taking her goldendoodle on walks and checking out flea markets. Visit her design blog, Design Roast.